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

Introspection is the most important quality of someone that is willing to grow as an individual. It allows us to reflect on the challenges of our life while taking responsibility for them. Someone’s 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 that 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
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 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 that 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 will be 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 of 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 that was a YouTube star, both an artist and a spiritual teacher. I knew nothing about her besides 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 everyday.

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 interpretation 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 tool 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 that survived were often the ones that 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
apologies

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 pays 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 expose 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 be 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

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 than 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 factor 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 takes 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 her 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
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
self-deprecation

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

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
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 instead of guilt. This way, it feels good on both ends.

  •  Intellectualization and rationalization
intellectualization

Intellectualization is a defense mechanism by which reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress – where thinking is used to avoid feeling. It involves removing one’s self, emotionally, from a stressful event. Intellectualization may accompany, but is different from, rationalization, the pseudo-rational justification of irrational acts. The person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic. The situation is treated as an interesting problem that engages the person on a rational basis, whilst the emotional aspects are completely ignored as being irrelevant. I got involved in a bad car accident during the summer 2015. When I was making a left turn on highway 50 in Lake Tahoe, a drunken driver going 80 mph on a 35 mph zone with no visibility hit us on the side. My daughter fainted during the impact and I had the fear of my life when I saw her unconscious body in the back of the minivan. At the end, we all had some bruises, some PTSD for my daughter but no serious injury. I completely shut off my emotions at this point. I just went to get a car rental, drove my friends back to the AirBnB, drove to the Reno hospital where my daughter had been sent by helicopter, and then picked up my ex-wife at the Reno airport. When I called my girlfriend that same evening to let her know what happened, I appeared to her as a sociopath as there was no emotion when I was relating the accident. She got scared of me but I was incapable to show any emotions at that time. It was only the following day when I called the insurance company, and started describing the accident that I crashed on the phone with tears in my eyes. Many people in cults use intellectualization and rationalization to explain and justify abuse from the leadership with absolutely no emotions. Intellectualization and rationalization are more common in men than women because men are more head-centered and women more heart-centered in general. During the group healing workshops that I facilitate, I would have workshop attendees sometimes describe the most horrific abuse (i.e. rape or beating) with no emotion and even sometimes giggling! One woman who was victim of incest even said that no one has ever loved her as much as her dad did. In this case, I put them through a process to reconnect consciously with the raw negative emotions that they have buried to avoid the pain. In this case, negative emotions are our friends as they are the bridge that calls the body to start the process of healing the traumatic experience. People not experiencing them feel scary to us as they seem they lost their humanity.

Read part V – Immature impulsive coping mechanisms

Part III: Immature projection-based coping mechanisms

Read Part II – Neurotic defense mechanisms

projection

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While pathological and neurotic defense mechanisms are in the realm of mental illness, immature defense and coping mechanisms are considered “normal” while not optimal. The fact is that 98% of us still have a hurt inner child that is still running the show. We call these coping mechanisms immature because we expect children to display these behaviors. When they are observed in grown-up adults, we may raise our eyebrows and recognize them as a weakness or an eccentricity. We would however never put them in the category of mental illness, or requiring therapeutic intervention as they are so common in every day life. When I meditated on that topic, I found 23 of them so I split them in 4 separate categories to make this blog series more digestible:

  1. Projection-based
  2. Fear-based
  3. Impulsion-based
  4. Ego-based

Projection-based immature coping mechanisms

Projection is a defense mechanism where a person projects his/her impulses, feelings, habits, and/or traits onto someone else and begins to identify his own traits in that ‘someone else’. Projection is so common that it is everywhere. We see in others what we resist to see in ourselves. Most judgments have some level of projection. The closer the relationship, the more likely the projection is, and this is why there are so many projections in intimate relationships. When we receive constructive feedback, it is healthy to see to what extent the person is right about their observation so that we may learn and grow from it. If we do not understand their critique then we can ask questions until we are able to see what they saw in us. This is why brutal personal honesty is so important in this work. However, it is important to see what projection may be in their feedback too. There is no need to share back what we observed unless we feel the person will be able to receive it and learn from it. I talked sbout the philosophical aspect of projection in a previous article.

  • Projective identification
projective identification

Projective identification is a type of projection that involves both people. The one person does not use the other merely as a hook to hang projections on. He/she strives to find in the other, or to induce the other to become willingly, the very embodiment of projection. Throughout our relationship, I had a partner who kept repeating a number of complaints she had against me. First, she said that I had duped her into the relationship, promising her a dream that never came to fruition. I accepted this feedback because I was so much in love with her that I displayed unconsciously (and in a codependent way) what she wanted to see to win her over. Also, there were a number of unfortunate hardships that came our way. However, I got to realize that her insistence on being “duped” was projective identification. She suffered from severe separation anxiety and needed her partner to be with her all the time, always focusing on her, basically becoming an object in her reality. She did not know how to function otherwise but carried deep shame about this aspect of herself so felt that she had no other way than “duping” her partners to become her crutch. Additionally, she kept accusing me of putting my needs over hers. I am clear now that it was projective identification. As a recovering codependent, I was learning about my authentic needs and I was starting to set healthy boundaries. In her perspective, her needs were most important than mine so they had to come first. I was not allowed to have needs that would conflict with hers. She was not interested in an equal partnership and she carried some shame about it so projected it on me. She also complained that I had not put any energy into being a stepparent. While I made some efforts and committed to spend one day a week with him, my relationship with her son was not ideal because he felt her mum preferred to spend time with me rather than him (while this came from her separation anxiety) so he saw me as a rival. Also my own trauma in missing my own children lost through parental alienation created a difficult emotional dynamic to attach to my partner’s son. There was also a level of projective identification because she perceived my children as the biggest threat to our relationship so she felt a lot of guilt for not being able to support me through this ordeal. Generally speaking, narcissists will have a lot of projective identifications on codependents who gladly accept all the faults because of their low esteem. Narcissists carry too much shame to see these flaws within themselves so need to project them externally.

  • Tanking
tanking

The concept of emotional tanking may be a bit complex to understand at first. When two people are in an intimate relationship, they are closely connected emotionally. We can visualize that each one of them is represented by a tank with emotions inside connected together by a pipe. So if one of them is repressing emotions, the pressure will be pushed back to the partner who is more emotional, empathic and less repressed. This pattern is typical with repressed brain-centered men married with an emotional woman. Let’s imagine the man is having difficulty with his supervisor and is afraid to lose his job. He does not want his wife to worry so says nothing. She notices something is not quite right so she asks him if everything is all right. He responds he is fine and starts watching TV. All his repressed anxiety « tanks » his empathic wife who suddenly feels very anxious without understanding why. She starts crying feeling sorry for herself. The man gets frustrated thinking « I have enough problems at work and now my wife is acting neurotic for no reason ! ». He asks her with an irritated voice « what’s wrong now ? » which does not help his wife’s state. He is not realizing that his wife is perfectly mirroring his repressed emotions, but because he is unwilling to see this aspect of himself, he is scolding his wife for something he created in the first place. Anyone married to an empath needs to be aware of the concept of tanking. When I was married to Teal, I made that mistake many times. I was trying to protect her from my children custody court case because this was making her very anxious but I repressed my own nervousness in the process which would erupt in her unexpectedly. This is another (selfish) reason why it is so important that we care for our loved ones’ state whether it is our spouse or children. If they are not doing well, they will tank us, especially if we are empathic.

  • Deflection
deflection

In general, deflection means that we are passing something over to someone else in an attempt to draw the attention away from ourselves. I have written about my unfortunate bad habit of deflecting in a previous article. We deflect when we feel ashamed so our ego will deflect the shame back typically to the person who made us uncomfortable in the first place. Because we understand well the insecurities of our partner, it is easy for us to trigger their shame, and get them on the defensive so that we stop being in the spotlight. Our biggest ego fear resides in seeing our own shadows. In order to resist deflection, we need to remember that when our shame is triggered, we have an opportunity for personal growth so we are actually winning. We learn to sit with our emotion, and we take advantage of the trigger to start the process of healing. If our partner is supportive, we do it with them otherwise we isolate to take care of it on our own. If we feel there was an element of projection in our partner that triggered our shame, we let 24 hours pass and find a suitable moment to share our observation consciously with them in a way that does not trigger their shame and benefit their own inner growth. Deflection is often responsible for the quick escalation of argument between people. Taking time for self-reflection will neutralize this unhealthy habit and will require our letting go of the need to be right. For example, let’s say you are at a party and you spend most of the evening talking a pretty girl rather than being with your partner. Your partner then tells you “I really did not feel we were a couple tonight. You were all over this girl” and you respond “What are talking about? I saw how John could not stop following you all evening. Is there something going on between the two of you? Also, the dress you wore is way too provocative!”. When the deflector cannot find an argument, he can always use your own reaction against you. So in this situation, he could also say “Why are you so negative all the time? I am really tired of your constant jealousy. I feel I am suffocating!”

  • Labeling
labeling

While useful in communication for our thinking process, labeling can become a coping mechanism to avoid feeling some unpleasant emotions triggered by other people. In cases of parental alienation, the alienating parent labels the targeted parent as bad, dangerous, irresponsible, hurtful and unreliable so as to encourage the children to abandon and hurt him/her. Because of morality and personal values, a person has to be made bad before we can hurt them. This is a well-known fact in the world of politics. The nazis called the Slavic people underman and the Jews filthy contagious rats so as to dehumanize their opponents before exterminating them. The far right French government of Vichy that was an ally of the nazis during the second World War treated the French resistance as terrorists. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US government made up a story that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ready to use against the US and that he had ties with al-Qaeda terrorists to justify their invasion of Irak to the American public. However the real motive was to keep control over Middle East oil and preserve the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. These are extreme examples but labeling creates distance between us and the person we label and prevents connection at a basic human level. When we label someone, we shield ourselves from the uncomfortable reflection they provide to us. It is another way to avoid seeing our shadow. It is another attempt by the mind to shut itself from feeling. We can label someone as young to imply they are too inexperienced for us to learn anything from them. We can label someone as irresponsible and lazy so that we do not feel the guilt that we are not helping them. We can also use labels to put people on a pedestal whether they are a celebrity, a successful businessperson, or a spiritual teacher. We idealize them and we cease to see them as a person too. We use the connection to boost our self-esteem by association or to extract valuable information from them. This is why celebrities avoid associating with fans as they feel objectified. Only equal partnerships with a balance of giving and receiving feel nurturing. So we use labeling to connect and disconnect from people independently of how we truly feel about them. Instead we can make an effort to feel the essence of anyone or anything we come into contact whether it is a prince, a beggar, a child, an animal, a tree or even a crystal.

Read part IV – Fear-based immature coping mechanisms

Part II – Neurotic defense and coping mechanisms

Read Part I – Pathological defense mechanisms

neurotic Woody Allen

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Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, depressed mood, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, and loneliness. People who are neurotic respond worse to life pressures and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult.

Neurotic defense mechanisms are actually fairly common in adults, as they offer quick relief with the serious disadvantage of negatively impacting intimate relationships, work and quality of life.

  • Somatization or conversion
clueless doctor with psychosomatic disease

Because of the mind body connection, mental and emotional issues may be expressed in the physical body. Conversion or somatization is a defense mechanism whereby the anxiety caused by repressed impulses and feelings are ‘converted’ into a physical complaint. It is the transformation of negative feelings towards others or oneself into a physical ailment. It is the attempt for the body to express the real emotional issue in order to bring it to conscious awareness for resolution. Psychosomatic diseases fall into that category. I have discussed this topic in-depth in a previous article. Children who are deeply enmeshed with a mother struggling with anxiety issues fall automatically sick when the mother is too stressed. This way, she comes to the rescue of the ailing child who fills her inner void. When I was 13, I started developing stomachaches, nausea symptoms and high anxiety before math exams though I was a top student. My mother brought me to various doctors who would prescribe me with aspirin or simply said it would get better with time. In reality, I had suffered severe abandonment traumas when I was 9, and for various reasons, my subconscious mind believed that I needed perfect math grades not to be abandoned again. This was too much pressure to “stomach” for a teenager. In the software company I was running in the Silicon Valley, I used to manage a bright CTO who had problems with authority because of unresolved trauma with his father. A couple of times every year, we would have disagreements that would quickly escalate. He would get very upset, then fall sick and things would calm down a couple of days later. This pattern must have happened over a dozen times. Because he could not afford losing his job, he would convert or somatize his negative feelings towards his superior into an illness. For this reason, it is important to listen to our body to early identify the process of somatization which would give us a clue on what we need to work on emotionally. There is a lot of valuable information on the Internet about the spiritual meaning of any disease or ailment. Read it when you are having a physical symptom and feel how this resonates with you to identify the emotional source of the ailment. Then perform a soul retrieval process to release and heal the emotions linked to the painful memory. If you are consistent and diligent doing this, you will hardly ever get sick. According to Dr Bruce Lipton, up to 90% of all doctor visits are directly related to stress. Through meditation and inner listening, we can work through the difficult emotions consciously so that they do not manifest physically. In case of somatization, a skilled therapist or life coach can contribute much more to healing than a family doctor.

  • Tics and Tourette syndrome
Bob Saget Tourette Syndrome

Tics are rapid movements or sounds that are repeated over and over for no reason. A person with a tic cannot control the movement or sounds. Examples of common tics include throat clearing, eye blinking, arm jerking, shoulder shrugging or sniffing. Tics often get worse when a person feels stressed, tired, anxious, or excited which confirms that they are psychosomatic. This is a sub category of somatization as a defense mechanism. The body expresses the thoughts and feelings that are unacceptable for the mind to see.

  • Displacement
displacement of anger towards a child

Displacement occurs when a person represses emotions or impulses that they feel towards another person. Because they feel that it is irrational, socially unacceptable or too risky to demonstrate such feelings, the psyche prevents them from being converted into actions. However, the feelings are instead displaced towards a person or animal whom it is easier to express such sentiments for, and unfortunately it is typically someone more vulnerable. When I was 10 years old, after my parents had separated, I lived alone with my father. Once, he came home early in the evening as I was watching TV. He probably had a bad day and displaced it all on me. He started by turning off the TV, which elicited protest from me, which led into spanking and crying alone in my bedroom. Unfortunately, we all have been both the persecutor and the recipient of displacement with our loved ones. This is very common with married couples. After a hard day at work, we are likely to bring back the negativity back home, which creates inevitably an argument with our spouse. Animals are also common victims of displacement and the media abounds with stories of animal cruelty. Children who are cruel towards animals are often the ones who are abused by their primary caregivers, and this is how the cycle of abuse is passed on.

  • Dissociation
dissociated girl

When the world around us appears to be unbearable, we may use dissociation as a defense mechanism to momentarily lose our connection to the world around us. We would feel separated from the outside world, as though we exist in another realm. We may enter a state of daydreaming, staring into space and letting our mind wander. When we are dissociated, we are highly suggestible and this fact is well too known by mind control cult trainers. When there is dissociation, the mind fragments as a way of self-preservation. The traumatic memories are compartmentalized into a separate fragment so that the front personality may continue to function. With repeated traumas, the front personality may lose conscious awareness of the other abused personalities that get more and more repressed. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) originates from dissociation. Repeated exposure to dangerous situations will lead to complex PTSD and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). In most extreme cases, the victim will develop DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) or multiple front personalities that have no conscious awareness of each other. Recovering the traumatic memories through journaling or with a skilled and compassionate therapist, doing parts work are the most effective ways to reintegrate the personality.

  • Hoarding and excessive cleanliness
old hoarder

When individuals feel excessively powerless towards relationships and other people, they will move their attention from people to objects to regain a sense of control. Manic cleaners will compensate their internal chaos and powerlessness towards people by ensuring extreme control over the objects in their environment. On the opposite, the hoarders are creating layers of stuff to protect themselves from the perceived hostile environment in order to recreate a false sense of security. Hoarders are coping with their inner worthlessness by keeping all objects that are seen as worthless to other people. It is their desperate attempt not to feel disposable to other people. They identify with the junk that they keep. To overcome this disorder, they need to feel consciously the excruciating pain of worthlessness and powerlessness experienced towards other people that originated from their childhood. There are some famous hoarders. Nicolas Cage has a collection of rare stuffed birds, lizards, snakes, an octopus, a sixty-seven million year old dinosaur skull, and a collection of shrunken heads. Angelina Jolie started collecting knives at age fourteen. As a teenager, her interest in them veered towards self-destruction. She would use the knives she collected to self-harm, and has also been known to involve them while having sex. We need to remember that for a cutter, self harm gives a sense of release hence safety, which is counterintuitive. We are all hoarders to some various degrees and we will have a tendency to hoard items that make us feel safe. Collectors are refined hoarders, and the many rich people hoard money for the same reason: safety.

  • Hypochondriasis
Hypochondriac humor

Hypochondriasis is the excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. By going from doctor to doctor in search of what is wrong with them, they avoid taking responsibility for the emotional dynamic that created the ailment in the first place. This is their way to avoid the painful buried emotions. They suffer from a deep sense of powerlessness, and they see themselves as a victim in a threatening world. They feel a great sense of relief when a medical professional can label their ailment. They have projected the omniscience and omnipotence of their parents onto health professionals. Their idealization of the doctors as the ultimate authority translates metaphorically as their resistance to see their parents’ imperfection in order to avoid taking responsibility for their own life. Making doctors or parents wrong would provoke too much anxiety as they feel incapable of overcoming life challenges on their own. I have a brother who is a hypochondriac. He is in fact resisting to see his mother’s shadows as he is too afraid to detach from her since he sees her as his only genuine support. By making what is wrong about them external, they do not have to face the shame of creating the ailment. Their low self-esteem would not be able to bear it. The heavily subsidized French health care system is making it easier for this disorder to develop among all social classes of the population while it is a luxury in the USA because of the prohibitive cost of healthcare.

  • Sociopathy
I am not a psychopath, I am a high-functioning sociopath - Benedict Cumberbatch

Because of repeated emotional abuse or neglect, sociopaths have lost the capacity for empathy. They have lost the ability to feel. Their heart has been completely walled off and they are unable to feel the effect they have on other people. Many of them want to be a good person however but it is completely driven by their mind. They can perceive but do not feel. By shutting down their heart, they avoid the painful feelings in order to get on with their life. They do not understand why people have such strong reactions towards them while they meant no harm. Their lack of attunement causes them to hurt people unintentionally. They are unwillingly toxic. Because of this, they do not trust themselves and many turn into codependents (the ones that want to be good). Because they have disconnected from their heart, they do not have a core so they are unreliable, and they will throw you under the bus if someone more influential comes along. When people lash at them, they would typically deflect back to avoid facing the shame of their own emotional condition. It is difficult to heal sociopathy because the sociopath would first need to feel what is wrong with them but they do not feel anything. Typically, it takes some external tragedy to start cracking their walls and to rehabilitate their heart. Shamanic medicine can be extremely effective to help them feel again. One of my primary caregivers was sociopathic. He would often forget my birthday or if he remembered, he would make a mistake on my age when I was a kid. He would give me the wrong type of presents (free branded stuff he would get from his company), have no picture of me in his apartment while his new wife had pictures of their son (my younger half brother) everywhere or make me sleep on a couch while a bed with clean linens was available. I would get upset but he could not understand why.

  • Reaction formation
Frollo and Esmeralda

With reaction formation, we convert the unconscious wishes or impulses that are perceived to be dangerous into their opposites and we display a behavior that is completely the opposite of what we really want or feel. We take the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety. For example, a man may experience feelings of love towards a married woman. Because the fulfillment of his desires would contradict social norms regarding acceptable behavior, a reaction formation occurs – the man may experience feelings of dislike towards her – the opposite of the original feelings. In the same way, a person who has been socialized to believe that intimate same-sex relationships are wrong or sinful, but is attracted to members of the same sex would show unusual animosity towards the people s/he is sexually attracted to, i.e. the LGBT community. In Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame De Paris, the priest Frollo experiences reaction formation towards Esmeralda. He is madly in love with her which is not acceptable for a man of God so he hangs her to death.

  • Shoulding and musting
shoulding and musting

There are some people who cannot help giving constant free advice, correcting others or have more rules and regulations than the army, navy and air force combined! They are impossible to be around. Shoulding and musting is their own way to cope with their own inadequacy, core shame and lack of self-love. They constantly see what other people do wrong in order to feel better about themselves because of their poor self-image. They focus on others’ faults so that they do not have to see their own shadows. This behavior isolates them from other people so they end up reliving the abandonment trauma and the feelings of worthlessness that they had buried. Many so-called spiritual guides fall into that category and they cannot help but fix everyone around them constantly. A friend of mine has a husband who loves skiing. Yet, he cannot help giving ski lessons to his wife and daughter always emphasizing what they are doing wrong on the slopes. As a result, they do not want to join him anymore in his favorite activity and he fell into a depression, feeling rejected and unloved. As shoulding and musting are a form of projection, they need to face their own inadequacy and the childhood traumas that originated from it.

  • Regression
child wetting bed

It is the temporary reversion to an earlier stage of development. Regression functions as form of retreat, enabling a person to psychologically go back in time to a period when the person felt safer. A child may begin to suck their thumb again or wet the bed after the separation of his parents. I believe I started my puberty very late because aspects of me did not want to grow up after my parents’ divorce. One of my partners’ child was stuck on the anal phase though he was 8 years old. This was his attempt to be back as a baby when he used to spend so much time with mum. Besides, stress of adult life and the related anxiety may lead us to seek comfort in things which we associate with more secure, happier times. Comfort food is the food we were given as a child and it is soothing to have it when we are depressed. It brings back memories of safety and happiness. We may be drawn to eat the same candies we used to have as a kid, or watch the old movies and cartoons of our childhood. I have a friend who has been through a bad break-up and meets friends every week to play Dungeons & Dragons. When done consciously, regression may be healthy, provide good feelings and can even be a form of inner child work.

  • Repression
repressing emotions

Repression is perhaps the most significant of defense mechanisms in that repressed feelings and impulses can lead to the use of many other mechanisms. Repression blocks many unpleasant feelings that could cause too much anxiety for the conscious mind. However forgetting about a problem does not solve the problem. In the same way, the buried emotions keep influencing us in dramatic ways through the law of mirroring. Our society has the same fear towards negative emotions so the anti-depressant market size is $16B. It is critical that we learn to accept the discomfort of unpleasant feelings and emotions and learn from them. They point us to emotional aspects in us that require healing just like the pain of a physical injury is conducive to healing. For many of us, repression has become second nature so the toxic emotions can poison us from within, and can be the cause of auto-immune diseases and even cancer. In this situation, the use of shamanic medicine can be a life saver. After losing my children to parental alienation, I had accumulated a lot of toxic shame, I felt horrible and stuck. When I took Ayahuasca at that time, I purged intensely and cried for over 10 hours. This was a very difficult journey but it healed me profoundly and probably averted a serious disease. Meditation is a more natural and less drastic way to scan the painful emotions that want to come to the surface. It is important to embrace them and work with them consciously to stay healthy. They have a lot to teach us. We are light and shadow, and integration means accepting and loving both of these aspects.

  • Phobia
arachnophobia

Phobia are an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. It may come from a traumatic memory or may be simply a transgenerational trauma. Adolf Hitler was the product of an incestual and pedophile relationship between his father Alois Hitler and Klara his mother who started to be sexually abused by Alois at age 9.  Adolf’s little mouth also served as a servile, frightened female orifice for his violent father. It is then not surprising that as an adult, the supreme ruler of Germany, Adolf was afraid to sleep alone at night, and suffered a mouth washing compulsion. He was so sickened by the thought of putting flesh in his mouth that he became a vegetarian. I have acrophobia (fear of heights) but I believe this was passed on from my mother to me. I have worked on it for many years in order to climb a number of high mountains in the world. Because the fear is so deeply rooted in the subconscious, it is difficult to control and heal a phobia. I had a partner who would feel extremely anxious when it was very windy. As a child, she would be cruelly abused by a family acquaintance every time it was windy. Her perpetrator was in the same way abused by his own father when it was very windy. Other common phobia are aerophobia (fear of flying), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), cynophobia (fear of dogs), astraphobia (fear of lighting), trypanophobia (fear of injections), agoraphobia (fear of getting trapped) or mysophobia (fear of germs). One of my former partners had trypophobia, which is is the aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes, or bumps. After doing some soul retrieval work with her, we realized it came from repressed memories of seeing animal corpses decomposing in her traumatic childhood. Phobias often come with repression and displacement too. In American psychiatrist Scott Peck’s bestseller People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, there is a heavily enmeshed daughter with her mother who has arachnophobia. The daughter feels subconsciously that she is being eaten alive by her mother.

  • Catastrophizing
catastrophizing woman

Catastrophizing is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. Catastrophizing can generally take two different forms: making a catastrophe out of a current situation, and imagining making a catastrophe out of a future situation. There are many reasons why we may be affected with this condition. Bad things happened to us in the past so we are afraid they may happen again, the most extreme case being PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Because of childhood traumas, we may have the core belief that we are bad so bad things should happen to us. People suffering from BPD are catastrophizing because they suffer from disorganized attachment, meaning that they were abused by the same people they had to bond with. As a result, they always live on the edge and never feel a sense of safety. To heal from that condition, we need to create an internal part that can reassure us, and through repetition, as the doom scenario does not occur, the catastrophizer within us will have less and less control. If your partner suffers from this condition, make sure to always have your cell phone with you, and update her/him often not to worry them unnecessarily.

  • Apathic withdrawal
apathic girl

Apathic withdrawal is a direct consequence of repression. We put ourselves to sleep so that the painful emotions would not surface. The repressed emotions poison our internal emotional world and we become depressed as a result, lacking vitality, enthusiasm and interest in life. We may spend over 10 hours a day sleeping and spending the rest of the time eating or watching TV. Apathy is one of the most powerless states we can experience, and to get out of it, we need to make space first for raw negative emotions such as anger, grief, fear, guilt or sadness before contemplating experiencing positive emotions. Over medicated people often have this condition as the anti-depressants are repressing their toxic emotions that need instead to be released consciously. To step out from this condition, it is important to perform activity that we really love or feel some sense of inspiration. We need to stretch ourselves but not to the point of breaking. Being in a supportive environment with people that genuinely appreciate us can make a world of difference too. Many husbands or wives have a minor form of this coping mechanism as they start feeling very tired, sometimes to the point of falling asleep, when a difficult argument erupts with their spouse.

Read part III on immature coping mechanisms

Part I – Pathological defense and coping mechanisms

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Defense and coping mechanisms

Life as a human being is tough, and we are often given more than we can handle. When under stress, our psyche is determined to help us stay safe so that we may survive and overcome challenges coming our way. There is a large variety of common defense mechanisms that we employ to protect the ego, and they operate at an unconscious level to help ward off unpleasant feelings. Our defense mechanisms are another way we cope with anxieties. In psychoanalysis terms, coping mechanisms arise because we feel threatened, or because our id or superego (in psychoanalytic terms) becomes too demanding. Some psychologists differentiate between defense and coping mechanisms. According to them, a defense mechanism is unconscious and automatic, while a coping mechanism is a conscious attempt from the psyche to deal with a difficult situation.

Ego-defense mechanisms are natural and normal. We will always be using them when external situations that feel threatening and outside our control arise. As we grow older and hopefully wiser, our goal is to respond with more mature and adequate defense mechanisms.

On the other hand, because of past traumas, and unhealed aspects of ourselves, we are often displaying defense mechanisms that are not adapted to our external reality. In this situation, most of the focus has to be on releasing and healing the past traumas to minimize and eventually eliminate the trigger of the defense mechanism.

Finally, our lack of self-love, personal honesty, and self-awareness are responsible for many other maladapted defense mechanisms. The ego is terrified to see its shadows and will do anything to avoid seeing the truth about itself.

Initially, before changing anything, we need to develop an awareness of the coping mechanisms we use and observe our psyche without judgment. Eventually, through self-observation, we will be able to respond with better-adapted defense mechanisms to enjoy a happier and more fulfilling life.

Not all defense or coping mechanisms are created equal. We can categorize them in four main categories:

  • Pathological: There is a loss of contact with reality. We are in the realm of noticeable mental illness and irrationality. There is potential danger, harm or abuse for the individual and the people surrounding him/her.
  • Neurotic: Fairly common in adults, it offers short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause serious long-term problems in relationships, work and in enjoying life over the long run.
  • Immature: Acceptable with adolescents, they are unfortunately far too common with adults who have not developed their emotional intelligence and self-awareness. They are maladapted to the environment and the external reality.
  • Mature: They are only found with adults with high EQ, and they optimize success in life and relationships. They are respectful of others. They promote personal integration, resilience, creativity, learning and wisdom.

Part I – Pathological defense mechanisms

  • Delusional projection, paranoia, grandiosity
Delusional projection, paranoia, grandiosity

This is often found in schizophrenia. The person lives in her/his own imaginary reality and is suffering from grossly frank delusions about external reality, often of persecutory nature. It is often found in cult leaders who have adopted a grandiose idea of the self, and are looking for weak followers to adopt their insane beliefs. For example, using my own personal experience, Robert Burton from the Fellowship of Friends believed he was an angel trapped in a human body. During dinner, he would often leave an empty space for his « buddy » Leonardo Da Vinci whom he saw as his divine father. I have another acquaintance who sees himself fighting evil forces with the Son of God. According to him, he constantly fights antichrists, vampires, demons and hundreds of thousands of Chinese, American and Nazi soldiers but he feels relieved having 100,000 pages of prayers to help him (his own words). I also had a former girlfriend who was convinced I was attacking her psychically after we broke up.

  • Splitting
splitting

Splitting, also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking, is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is quite common in romantic relationships where the object of love often  turns into an object of hate. People suffering from borderline personality disorder will have a tendency to see their partner, as all good at the start of the relationship, or all bad, typically after the relationship is over to deal with their fear of abandonment. Brad Pitt was Angelina Jolie’s soul mate but after they separated, she could only see a child abuser in him. The person using splitting carries an enormous amount of shame and has low self-esteem. As a result, they are unable to see their own shadow and will project it back to the former lover or close friend. Splitting is also one of the marks of parental alienation. The alienating parent’s weak ego can only identify with the positive aspects of being a protector so s/he will turn the children into victims in order to make the targeted parent a dangerous perpetrator. Splitting is a defense mechanism that helps to attach to someone, detach from someone and deal with the anxiety related to rejection and abandonment as we are wired to run away from the bad and dangerous person, and bond with the nice and safe person.

  • Extreme projection
extreme projection

People are so afraid of their own physical, moral, or psychological deficiency that they project it onto another individual or a group. This is also known as scapegoating. Adolf Hitler was a repressed homosexual for most of his life but he arrested over 100,000 of his fellow gay and lesbian German subjects on the basis of their sexual orientation. The most homophobic people are often homosexual themselves. This type of defense mechanism where we project onto others what we do not want to see in ourselves is also called reaction formation. Sometimes, multiple defense mechanisms are at play at the same time. In family systems, parents will project their good parts onto the golden child while projecting their shadows onto the identified patient, who serves as a scapegoat for the whole family. One of my former girlfriends, who survived horrendous abuse in her childhood, started seeing me towards the end of our relationship as her childhood abuser and a dangerous psychopath. By the same token, the most jealous people are often the ones having affairs on the side.

  • Denial
denial

It is the refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening. We ignore anxiety-provoking thoughts by stating they are invalid. In the BBC documentary The Secret Swami, Isaac Tigrett, the founder of Hard Rock Café, stated that he believed that there was truth to the rumors of Sathya Sai Baba’s actions of pedophilia and sexual abuse towards thousands of his young male followers. But he also stated that such behavior would not change his faith in Sai Baba as he had to preserve his self image and his relationship with the guru he had donated over $100 million. All cult members rely heavily on denial to turn the other way when confronted with overwhelming evidence of the deviance of their guru. Children raised with an abusive parent also resort to denial to make this parent safe to feel safe themselves. I had an acquaintance who was sexually abused by her father all of her childhood and she still believed that no one in this world had loved her more than her father. In 2015, 12 years after the infamous invasion of Irak, still half of Republicans believed that weapons of mass destruction were found in Irak.

  • Addiction
addiction

Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop an activity or consuming a substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. There are various degrees of addictions, and in its light form, it can be considered neurotic but the addiction can unfortunately often take a pathological turn. The most common addictions are alcoholism, smoking, drugs (both illicit and prescription drugs), overeating, gambling, sex, coffee, video games, workaholism and social media. I covered this topic in-depth previously. People, politicians and institutions often fail to realize that the addiction is only a symptom or a coping mechanism and not the core issue. As a consequence, in order to heal, we need to look and heal the emotional dynamic that the addiction is trying to block. Addiction to smoking is often linked to premature weaning, which resulted in poor self-image. Substance abuse is usually connected with the fear of being alone, and feeling disconnected with people. Genuine healing can take time so going to a less harmful coping mechanism can help tremendously too. Many alcoholics who were destroying their lives and those around them have turned to dogmatic religions (ex. Born Again Christian). This still represents a big improvement in their quality of life.

  • Self harm
self harm, cutting
hand with fresh and old scars of self destroyer

Nonsuicidal self-injury, often simply called self-injury, is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It is typically not meant as a suicide attempt but rather a drastic way to cope with extreme emotional pain, intense anger and frustration. One can only fathom the degree of emotional pain one must experience to feel release or even pleasure in self-mutilation. Unfortunately, while self-injury may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it’s usually followed by the shame provoked by this behavior and the return of painful emotions. Teal Swan who used to be a cutter as a way to cope from a very traumatic childhood is one of the rare few who dared to talk about this taboo subject.

  • Stockholm syndrome
stockholm syndrome

Harmless victims feel so powerless in the hands of their perpetrators that they develop a psychological alliance with their abuser as a survival strategy. As they see their perpetrator as all-powerful, there is nowhere to hide. Unconditional compliance feels unconsciously the only way to stay alive. Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was taken and held hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army, “an urban guerilla group”, in 1974. She was recorded denouncing her family as well as the police under her new name, “Tania”, and was later seen working with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco. She publicly asserted her sympathetic feelings towards the SLA and their pursuits as well. It took years of therapy for satanic ritual abuse poster child Teal Swan before she could acknowledge that her abuser was not her real father. A lighter and more common form of the Stockholm syndrome will get people with abusive parents to select similarly abusive partners in their adult life. Their wires have been crossed, as they had to create the association danger=love to survive their early life of mistreatment.

  • Excessive control, dominance, jealousy and possession
extreme control, dominance

A person may feel so powerless from within, that they may compensate by exercising absolute control over other human beings, and sometimes animals. The most common form is the jealous husband or wife who gets into rage if their spouse speaks with someone of the opposite gender. They have an innate need to control all aspects of their spouses’ life. This control can also be seen in cases of parental alienation where the alienating parent is exercising full emotional control of their children, who have become their narcissistic objects. The same behaviors can be witnessed in the workplace where an authoritative boss is dictating the life of their employees for his/her personal benefit rather than advancing the company vision. Harvey Weinstein used his position in the movie business to sexually assault hundreds of young actresses such as Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow. Cult leaders fall into the same category as they take full control of their disciples’ life for their personal benefit. In the David Berg’s cult Children of God, women were nothing short of slaves. In addition of raising children, taking care of the household, cooking, cleaning, they had to give themselves willingly to the elders (“sexual sharing”) and at night, they had to enroll new members prostituting themselves if required (“flirty fishing”). Dictators  have the most negative impact with this pathological coping mechanism as they exercise absolute control over entire states. Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi who was Libya’s supreme leader for 34 years was one of these despicable human beings, but there are so many more today creating hell for their subjects. Actually, there are 50 countries in the world with autocratic government and this contributes to billions of people’s misery.

  • Demonic possession
demonic possession

This is a more controversial defense mechanism that I am listing here however I have personally witnessed it on numerous occasions. Demonic possession has both terrified and fascinated humankind since the beginning of time, and this is why so many movies have been inspired by it. Under very severe stress or abuse, the front personalities may vacate the body, leaving an empty shell for demonic entities to take over. It is a defense mechanism, because it is a desperate attempt to survive by exiting the current reality. Unfortunately, when the front personalities come back into the body, they typically have to face, with indescribable shame, the horrible actions committed by the dark entities in their absence. Actually, many serial killers say that they were possessed by a demon that takes control of them when they are about to commit their heinous crimes. This type of personality dissociation is well known of satanic cults that use torture and the most extreme of sexual and physical abuse to insert demonic entities in children to transform them into obedient mind-controlled slaves. I became more aware of this sad reality as I fell in love with a woman that had been abused by a satanic cult all of her childhood. 

  • Psychopathy
psychopath

Similar to a sociopath, a psychopath has lost all ability for empathy because of repeated and extreme childhood traumas. Whereas a sociopath is still striving to be a good and a moral person from their mind, the psychopath is immoral and has given up on restraining his dark pulsions. He has typically formed some insane dogma to justify his deviant actions. An example of this can be found in the book Mein Kampf that Hitler wrote before he took control of Germany. Because the psychopath has fully disconnected from his heart, he is also fully disconnected from other people and sees them as separate of himself. This is the basis of Satanic cults where exploitation and vampirism are seen as a way to get stronger and more powerful. In this gloomy view of the universe, energy is limited and each one of us is alone so needs to use others as objects for personal gratification. Psychopaths have very deep buried traumas within them but they have completely shut down so as not to feel them. They only feel alive when they torture, abuse and brutalize their victims to mirror the internal aspects of them that are in hell. The more horror they perform, the more they disconnect emotionally to cope with the little left of their conscience and the more deviant they get. A tragic dismal path of destruction surrounds them.

Read part II – Neurotic defense mechanisms

Moving from a dysfunctional codependent relationship to a conscious one – Part II

View the video – Read by Britany

Light at the end of the tunnel, finally a conscious relationship

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Read part I

Even after many years of struggles in codependent and abusive relationships, it is possible to mature into a conscious relationship. Once the lessons have been learned, we finally see light at the end of the tunnel. Intimate relationships have been a source of torment, despair, frustration and powerlessness. They now become the most beautiful part of our life. Our life deepens and we get to experience the purity of the love within our heart through the most magnificent mirror of romantic connection. What does this relationship feel like?

1. Personal Work

Because of the law of attraction, the partner we love is the mirror of who we are, mostly the unexpressed aspects. Therefore, the better person we become, the better partner we will attract. A beautiful and enjoyable romantic partnership can only be the mirror of genuine self-love. For this reason, inner work is and will continue to be the biggest factor in attracting, loving and keeping this special person.

Inner work, meditation

In a conscious relationship, we remember that our partner is a mirror. When they trigger us, we remember they are helping us to become aware of unsavory aspects we have repressed. We enjoy the good times, and we go into introspection during the challenging times to learn and become a better version of ourselves. If we think the behavior of our loved one has nothing to do with us, then we will not have strong reactions. We can either be supportive or feel indifferent, and lose interest. But if we are triggered, then we can be assured that it is about us. With experience, we learn to discriminate more and more accurately what is our stuff, and what is their stuff when a conflict arises. And we learn to discuss it in a vulnerable way to increase self-awareness and intimacy.

We learn to be alone while not feeling lonely. We do not need someone to complete ourselves. We do not need to marry someone to relive our childhood traumas. We are no longer afraid to be abandoned or betrayed. We understand that love is within us and not outside. So even if a breakup occurs, we know for certain that after we have grieved, the love within us will manifest an even better partner than before. This works as automatically as a sick body will eventually get healthy because health is our natural state of balance as we follow our inner guidance and get enough rest. We are able to make the best decisions for the relationship and ourselves because we are not driven anymore by the fear of ending up alone.

The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship itself. While it is wonderful to enjoy longevity in a relationship, we understand that there is no guarantee. As human beings, we keep changing and growing and sometimes people grow in different directions. It does not make anyone wrong, though the process of uncoupling can be so painful.  We can only share happiness with our beloved if we are happy ourselves. To keep sacrificing oneself is not sustainable. We need to put our self first with the sincere hope that our partner will want to stick around, and we understand that they need to put them self first too. We understand the fragility of romantic love, as it requires so many conditions to truly blossom. For this reason, we never take it for granted and revel in every moment of deep intimacy. Sometimes, we love our partner so much that we understand that it is best for us to step away if we see that we are limiting their growth.

As we accept the free will of our partner, we are able to experience a new form of love that is not possessive. We do not feel threatened by the growth of our partner, thinking they may leave if they outgrow us. On the opposite side, we want them to reach their full potential. We understand that the love can only get better as each partner commits to becoming the best they can be. We want to experience two hearts that choose to love each other in complete freedom, a love that is genuinely unconditional.  We accept that our partner may say no to us at times. It could be no to joining on an activity, no to sex, no to help us out, no to an external commitment and we trust them that they have taken our best interest in consideration. We work on our own abandonment or self-esteem issues or insecurities when this happens without attempting to manipulate them.

We commit to know ourselves and to be authentic. We commit to own both our light and shadow. Unless we know who we are, we appear unpredictable and unsafe to our partner. As we acquire self-knowledge, we understand our core needs and we are able to communicate effectively about them. We are honest, we act with integrity and we have healthy boundaries. When we have a conflicting need, we find a creative way for both partners to get their needs met.

Healthy boundaries

The more we own our shadow, the more we can create a container for our partner’s shadow so that we can both bring more of ourselves into the relationship for deeper intimacy. The more we own our shadow, the less likely it is for any shame to disrupt the relationship. The more we own our shadow, the better we can support our partner’s emotional healing without judgment.

2. Building a life together

While the commitment to self comes first as it is the healthy foundation for anything we bring into our life, a relationship takes nurturing and commitment. A romantic partnership is like a beautiful flower that needs its daily intake of nutrients, good soil, sun, and water. An intimate connection is the co-creation of two individuals. It is a third entity in addition of the two individuals, not an entity that is supposed to overthrow the same individuals that brought it to life in the first place.

Building our life together

Take it Slow. It takes time to know a person. People have a tendency to move too fast together after having sex. Sexual chemistry may be irresistible at first but it will eventually wane off as incompatibilities surface. Sexual attraction is an indicator of the potential of a relationship for personal growth, while compatibility is the best indicator for longevity. Genuine trust is built slowly through repetition. Taking any step back in a committed relationship is very damaging so it is better to advance slowly but surely. Only commit when you are ready to do it, but then be consistent.

Become an expert on other person. We tend to forget it but the main reason to be in a relationship is to love and to be loved, to experience joy and happiness. Therefore, the better we know our partner, the easier it is for us to make them feel loved. It is critical to know their love language, how they feel appreciated, what opens their heart, how they feel cared for. The more you bring joy into their lives, the more your partner will feel inspired to reciprocate if s/he is not narcissistic. Be curious and keep asking questions to know your partner better every day. We should give at least five times more compliments than constructive feedback on how our partner’s behavior is affecting us negatively.

In its lower form, sex can be used for control and a way to release negativity. However, when used consciously, the benefits are immense. The regular mixing of Yin & Yang sexual energy of two lovers is excellent to their health. Sex can become a sacred ritual when the energy from the genitals gets refined in each subsequent chakra to eventually open the crown chakra. It allows the lovers to experience ego death in a divine embrace. It opens the door to some of the highest pleasures we are able to experience on this earth. It promotes playfulness and intimacy. It brings heaven on earth.

sexual union, tantra

Many of us make the mistake of loving romantic partners for their potential and not for what they are today. While people can change, this is a long process so this type of expectation puts unnecessary stress onto the relationship. To truly love someone is to love his or her shortcomings. This makes it a safe place for our partner to grow without shame. We are able to see and love the whole person, without idealizing or demonizing him or her.

A conscious intimate relationship is the experience of togetherness without losing oneself in the process. It is the merging of freedom with responsibility and commitment.

We give without expecting anything in return. Unless absolutely necessary, we only do things for our partner when it comes from our heart to keep the relationship pure and unconditional. And by doing so, we raise our vibration and we move our center of gravity from the ego to the heart, to experience life at a much higher level.

We focus on creating joy and happiness for our partner. More and more, their bliss becomes our own, and their smile reflects the delight of our heart. We have no need to claim our value because it is already there as we wonder at the love in their eyes.

We strive to be sensitive towards our partner and we extend the same concern to our close ones. We ensure to be on the same page, and if we are not, we at least become aware that we are not. We are patient and understanding in solving our differences.

empathy

Self-improvement means encouraging and feeding the highest aspects within us, and starving the unsavory ones. We need to have the same commitment towards our partner. When a shadow aspect manifests but we do not feel our partner could take the constructive feedback, just ignore this aspect in silence. But under no circumstance should we feed their shadow otherwise it will come back to bite us. I once had a partner who had megalomaniac tendencies. I would be encouraging but never to the point where her ego could take the better of her. Unfortunately, she had a manager that was in love with her, and would continuously put her on a pedestal. He used her shadow to make her leave me so that he could get married with her. However, he is now the one who has to deal with the monster he has created.

3. Communication

There cannot be a relationship without communication. Communication can be verbal and non verbal. Communication is what harmonizes the uniqueness of two individuals so that a third entity, the relationship, may be created. The quality of your relationship is first determined by the quality of your communication. Communication is the invisible thread that makes the dance of relationships possible.

communication

When our partner talks to us, we figure out the best course of action. Do they just need to vent? Do they need their pain to be validated? Do they need to be felt, seen and understood through active listening? Do they need to feel protected and loved? Are they actually looking for advice? (rarely) Do they want to explore a philosophical subject? (rarely)

We strive towards achieving the best balance in sharing our problems and worries. We share vulnerably what troubles us for deeper intimacy, however we are careful not to overwhelm our partner with our challenges. We develop a sense of how much our partner is able to handle without being dragged down. If they get triggered, they will make our state worse and not better anyway. We accept the fact that our partner has limitations just as we have limitations. We put our individual problems into the right container, as we understand our partner is sacred and should not be the recipient of our own dysfunction. We make it a priority to share the positive aspects of life over the struggles. We develop a habit to see the glass half full rather than half empty without living in denial.

In the medical profession, the Hippocratic oath teaches us to abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm. I believe the same applies to intimate relationships. While it is impossible never to hurt an intimate partner that is so close to us, we commit never to do it intentionally. And if we do hurt them, we become introspective so as to understand on how not to do it anymore.  On the opposite, we commit to do everything in our power to bring more joy and happiness into their life.

Kindness is the antidote for shame. Kindness promotes safety in the relationship. When communication and interaction with our beloved is infused with kindness, we relax. We need less time alone to recharge because we are able to do it even more effectively in their quiet presence. Kindness allows an intimate relationship to become a refuge.

kindness

Authenticity comes with responsibility. We become aware how speaking our truth or acting from our authentic self may negatively impact our partner. We anticipate their reaction so that we can best communicate about our needs while minimizing negative impact for them. For example, if you have an urge to climb the Himalayas, you do it in a way that will guarantee your safety and at a time when your spouse can have extra support at home with the children.

Please be careful with what you are committing to because a broken promise can permanently damage the trust in the relationship. Trust is the foundation of intimate relationships. It takes one hundred consistent positive actions to earn trust but one failed promise can demolish everything. So be aware of your limitations. I recently saw a young couple where the woman was struggling with sexual inhibition because of a traumatic past of sexual objectification. We realized that she needed more space for her sexual healing so the young man committed never to initiate sex anymore and that he would leave it entirely to her. This idea came from a noble aspect of him however he was unaware of other parts of him that were unable to hold this promise. As a result, I suggested that they schedule sex once a week intentionally and leave the rest to her. This way, he will not be completely starved sexually and he could more easily create the space she needed for her sexual healing.

A relationship agreement is a wonderful way to clarify in writing how a couple can maximize happiness for each other. It brings focus and consistency in their efforts to nurture the relationship. It needs to be light and flexible for spontaneous love but precise enough to foster commitment. I encourage the couple to write an update of the relationship agreement every year as people keep changing and evolving. It should however never be used as an instrument of control, but as a gentle reminder for the partners’ dedication to love each other in the best way possible.

4. Conflict resolution

conflict resolution

Shame is like a hot potato. We throw it at each other because we are afraid to get burnt. Arguments escalate the same way as we throw back and forth the burning shame to each other. Here is an example. The husband arrives late from a long day at work and a business dinner with clients. Wife says “The kids were acting crazy tonight. I am exhausted. I hate living with an absent husband. You are never here with us”. The husband feels ashamed. It triggers his self-worth issues so he responds “Well, there needs to be someone here to pay for the mortgage, and your weekly visit to the hairdresser”. Now this triggers the wife’s insecurities that she is not good enough, and she feels guilty to take care of herself so she goes into a fit of rage. Owning the shame is what breaks this circle. The husband could have simply responded “Yes, I feel bad that I let you down tonight again. I understand you need a caring husband on your side to raise our beautiful children. I am sorry”. Then she may vent a little bit more her frustration but there is no more escalation. This couple can come close again.When we need to give feedback on something that is bothering us in the relationship, we have to learn to do it in a vulnerable way and by taking full responsibility for our feelings. “I cannot stand my life with an absent husband. You are never here with us” becomes “I am struggling with the fact that you are so busy at work. I feel I am distancing myself from you because we do not spend enough time connecting with each other”. “You are such a nagging bitch” becomes “I am starting to struggle with my self-worth because I feel I cannot make you happy no matter hard I try. I am starving for appreciation and connection”. “You are so selfish and only thinking of yourself when you have sex with me” becomes “I felt very alone and objectified when we had sex last night. I am starving for a deeper connection between us. I want to feel that we care as much for each others pleasure as we do our own”. This approach mitigates shame and allows for the beginning of a conscious discussion instead of an argument.

fragile heart

A relationship is fragile, and has potential dangers from outside (life circumstances and other relationships) or inside (incompatibilities). The couple cannot be naïve about them and instead should develop full awareness of what is menacing their union. Some of these negative external influences could be: toxic in-laws, friends not in support of the relationship, difficult stepchildren brainwashed by a jealous ex, a very demanding boss, health or financial issues, or civil unrest. Relationship threats related to various incompatibilities are even more challenging, and it takes conscious communication and a lot of flexibility not to affect the relationship negatively. While most of the time together should be focused on positive aspects, it is critical to acknowledge what could have a negative impact and not sweep it under the rug. Love is precious but it is so fragile. Awareness will advert many dangers.

I am often asked the question on what to do when both partners get triggered at the same time. Ideally, both partners should isolate in a separate room to figure out their personal trigger. It can take the form of journaling, meditation or another healing modality. In this case, the partners are incapable of being a helpful container so it is best to do the work alone. Then they can come back together later and share what they have learned in a vulnerable way after they have calmed down. However, someone with an anxious attachment style may feel even more triggered if his or her partner disappears when a conflict occurs. In this case, I recommend they stay in the same room together as they work separately in silence with their own triggers.

It is a paradox but to be able to handle conflicts successfully, we should not be afraid of conflicts. If we give in because we are afraid of our partner’s negative emotions whether it is rage or despair, we are abandoning ourselves. Nothing gets solved this way, and we keep repeating the same unconscious patterns over and over again. It is natural to be afraid but a conscious relationship demands that we do not act from a place of fear. We acknowledge the fear but we continue to act from our highest truth, no matter what the consequences are. If our partner is not able to love us enough to handle our authentic truth, then we need to accept the fact that we may be better off with a different partner. Many teachers have said that fear and not hate is the opposite of love. Let’s learn to embrace conflict rather than running away from it. Let’s bring as much conscious awareness as possible during the conflict so that we can learn from our disputes.

love me with my hairy arms

It is natural to have preferences in the way our partner looks or behaves. We can express our personal preferences however we should never use any form of manipulation such as intimidation or blackmail to control our partner’s behavior or looks. We need to respect their free will and wait for them to take this action from their own volition. Let’s say your girlfriend does not shave her underarms and you find this unattractive. You may express your preference however if she is genuinely attached to her armpit hair, you should let it go. If this is a reason for you to break up with her, then she is definitely better off without you as it shows you are unable to love her the way she is.

Rather than seeing a relationship trigger as a curse, we need to rewire ourselves to see it as an opportunity. A trigger can be seen as a long and strong rope to recover lost and buried aspects within us. They can teach us invaluable lessons, promote self-knowledge and personal healing like nothing else. They bring to our awareness existing problems that need to be addressed. They help us improve our communication. If tackled properly, they help us deepen the intimacy with our partner.

conscious relationship

Conclusion

Intimate relationships are challenging but there is nothing else that has the potential to bring us as much happiness, growth and wisdom. A conscious relationship is the ultimate reward of many years of trying, failing and learning to love. This is why many forms of art have been obsessed with romantic love and intimate partnership. It is the most beautiful reminder on this earth of the rapture of divine love. Never give up on the dream to love and to be loved.

Moving from a dysfunctional codependent relationship to a conscious one – Part I

View the video – Read by Britany

premature baby

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We were born dependent. First, we were one with our mother in her womb. Then birth separated us from her. We had to start breathing on our own.  As we grow up, we learn to move on our own, to feed ourselves, to make our own decisions and live our own destiny. Little by little, we are learning autonomy however we still long for the primordial desire of fusion with our own mother. Our parents did the best they could but they passed onto us their own deficiencies so we arrive to adulthood in a state of incompleteness.  Love acts as a powerful spell because we feel incomplete and we are desperately looking for a better half to fill our void.

Falling in love is the subconscious drive towards completeness. Without this incentive, most of us will simply not have the courage to work on our shadows (mostly transgenerational). This is why intimate relationships are so difficult but also so rewarding. Shadow, more than light, is the foundation for the powerful attraction between lovers. Because we are all so afraid to change, nature gave us the perk of sex to incentivize us towards evolution. Nature gave us the ability to experience the ecstasy of integration at a physical level so that we may want to experience it at an emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Orpheus

I re-read recently the story of Orpheus. He was a demi-God, a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion. Even he could not bear the loss of his wife Eurydice. After he failed to retrieve her from the kingdom of Hades, he wandered randomly as a hermit and inconsolable, he fell prey to the Thracian Maenads. Romantic love is by far the most fulfilling experience here on earth, but it is also the most fragile. It is dependent on the free will of another human being because without genuine reciprocity, it is not a relationship. Even when both lovers are connected, many external events or people may disrupt their passion: parents, status or financial issues, visa issues, ex partners or children, illness. When it is not something external, even if they love each other very much, they may face incompatibilities that they may be unable to solve such as a different attachment style, power struggles, ineffective communication, different vision for life or preferences,  or children conflict for recomposed families. And even when everything aligns, death may take away one of the lovers leaving the other one in utter despair.

Until we are able to love ourselves and experience autonomy, we are limited to be in codependent relationships. These relationships will still help us to grow and develop but a great deal of suffering is typically associated with them. The great attraction between the lovers is proportional to their own lack and incompleteness. These relationships have amazing potential as the partners commit to grow and to do their inner work. But they will feel miserable if they resist their own expansion. They both need to realize their own incompleteness with humility, and support each other personal growth.

From my personal experience, I would like to describe the characteristics of such relationships.

At the base of the dysfunction is always the lack of SELF-LOVE. Because we do not love ourselves, we feel dependent on our romantic partner to experience love. This weak sense of self will manifest in the following forms:

self love
  • Inability or unwillingness to give space

Even the most compatible partners will have some areas where they diverge. They may not like the same type of food, enjoy different set of activities or may want spend time with different people. People who are insecure will interpret mistakenly the unwillingness to join in an activity as a sign that they are unlovable so they will put pressure on the partner to stick together even if this means that one of them will miss out on something important for him/her. This will build resentment on both sides. Other times, we may not be in an emotional state to provide adequate support to our loved one. In this case, it is best to recommend that they see a good friend or a therapist. Unfortunately, the partner will interpret this as rejection or abandonment. Of course, giving space should be more the exception than the rule otherwise there may not be enough compatibility to hold the relationship together. At the same time, it is natural for conflicting needs to arise in the course of a relationship; so giving space to each others to meet these needs separately will release considerable pressure.

  • Distrust

We all have weaknesses so we cannot be trusted in all areas. If you do not trust your partner to take the garbage out every Monday night because he is often distracted, then it is fine to give him a gentle reminder because history has proven that he is likely to forget. However, if we cannot trust our partner in aspects that are fundamental to us in the relationship, we should either work on our trust issues or exit the relationship. Without this underlying trust, there cannot be a relationship. Here are some examples of what could be a deal breaker for a couple but it varies from relationship to relationship and I highly recommend that the lovers discuss them clearly before fully committing to each other: sexual infidelity, emotional infidelity, physical or emotional abuse, circumcision of the children, caring for aging parents or stepchildren, providing financial support, regular sexual intercourse, emotional intimacy & affection. What may be a deal breaker for one couple may be insignificant for another so communication is key. The first step however is to know your own boundaries and love yourself enough not to violate them, even if this means letting go of the relationship. We can only trust our partner if we can trust ourselves.

false persona
  • Projecting a false persona

Because we believe we are unlovable, we create a false persona in order to get that love we are desperately starving for. This however is a recipe for disaster. This is very common with men.  Where they are in the courting mode, they perform lots of actions that they would simply not do in an established relationship: offering thoughtful gifts, organizing breathtaking dates, spending more money than they can afford on their beloved, being ultra gentle and considerate. Then, once their object of desire gets attached to their false persona, they relax and a less attractive personality surfaces. Inevitably, the lady feels duped and this is not a healthy foundation for a relationship. Being yourself from the start will limit the number of dates you may be able to get however what is important is the quality of the relationship and not the quantity. Here are some examples of not so innocent white lies.  We may pretend we like some activities or food we dislike, or we exaggerate our wealth, success or sexual performance. It is just a question of time for your mate to know you intimately. If she or he fell in love with a false persona, she or he will surely leave once she or he discovers your true self because this is not what she or he signed up for. Ensure to only display behaviors or attentions in your courting phase that are sustainable over the long run not to disappoint your loved one down the road.

  • Over reliance on the relationship for important needs

A mistake that many men providers do after getting married is to rely solely on their wife to organize their social life while all their energy is focused on work. If for any reason, their wife leaves them or even dies; they are left alone or completely unable to take care of themselves emotionally. The same applies for financial needs if one partner gets used to a certain lifestyle with the inability to earn money on their own. Too much dependency creates insecurity and a tendency to compromise oneself for the benefit of the relationship because we feel incapable of sustaining ourselves outside the relationship. It is healthy to be attached to someone special and it is natural to grieve when this person disappears from our life but we need to know that we have the ability, resourcefulness and the resilience to bounce back given enough time to heal. This certainty takes self-love. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and tragedy can strike inadvertently. A certain level of dependency is healthy in a relationship so that both partners can focus on their strengths however not to a point where a person is unable to function at all without their other half. Where there is too much dependency, breakups end up being much more difficult than necessary and the abandoned partner may become revengeful and obsessed with terrible consequences.

annoying husband
  • Fixing the other person

People with lower self-esteem may feel ashamed about who they are but do not have the strength to face it. It is less dreadful to keep focusing on other people’s flaws and keep fixing them. As they focus on their partner’s weaknesses, they get distracted so that they may not see their own flaws. They resent aspects of themselves but their ego cannot admit it. So they keep projecting their deficiencies onto others. They find compliant tormented souls that are well too aware of their imperfection and actually enjoy the constant reproaches because this reminds them of their early abusive family environment where they were repeatedly put down. Constant nagging is a relationship killer. We have to put at least ten times more pressure on ourselves for positive change than our partner. Let us inspire them with our own example. And when we share constructive feedback, it is best to address it vulnerably in the first person (i.e. I feel unloved and taken for granted when you make plans without including me)

self promotion
  • Constant self-promotion

People who believe something is wrong with them have an ego that needs to hide and repress their perceived imperfections at any cost. They do not believe their value can speak for itself so they use every opportunity to express how good they are, how much they are doing for the other person, how successful they are, how much money they have, how educated they are, how good of a parent they are, how good of a cook they are, etc… When you are certain of your own value, you are happy just being and there is no need for self-advocacy. And if people are unable to see your value unless you are claiming it, you may have an inflated sense of self or it may be time to renew your circle of friends.

In the second category of characteristics of codependent relationships, we do not trust the universe to bring someone even more special after we complete the healing of a painful breakup. So we resort to manipulation to keep our partner chained to us at any cost and there are many forms of CONTROL we can exercise:

  • Deprecation

If we keep denigrating or criticizing our partner, it will lower their self-esteem. They will lose their self-confidence and they will not believe that anyone else will be able to love and appreciate them. They should just be comforted that we stick around for them. This is one of the favorite tools used by narcissists. The recipient of such abuse needs to remember that if there is genuine love & attraction, there is mutuality so one partner is not entitled to feel superior. It is likely that the two partners are replaying the abuse of their childhood whether as a victim or a perpetrator, which are two sides of the same coin.

jealousy
  • Jealousy

This is one of the indications of possessive love.  While it is natural to have sensible expectations on one’s partner, jealousy is the irrational fear of losing the object of love of which we have become dependent. So we need to limit them  (as well as their well-being and personal growth) when we should be the ones working on our limited beliefs and insecurities. We forbid them to interact or even to appreciate beauty from people of the opposite gender. We punish them emotionally through stonewalling, anger or withdrawing affection when our jealousy is triggered.

  • Power play and emotional blackmail

Every partner in a relationship typically has assets that are desired by their significant other. It may be money, beauty, sex, fame or skills. It is natural for lovers to benefit each other as long as giving comes from the heart. Manipulation comes from our transactional mind.  This is the type of actions that the transactional mind will take. We purchase a nice bag for our wife before we ask her to go to a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas with our best friend. We give her a nice massage to get sex afterwards. We buy her beautiful flowers because she is suspecting that we are having an affair with a colleague. We let our husband have sex with us so that he will stop stonewalling us. It is best to express one’s needs and concerns directly instead of resorting to manipulation. When the relationship stops feeling fair, we can communicate about it in a vulnerable way rather than punishing them without any explanation. They will probably not understand, and it will make things worse. When we do something in a transactional way, it would feel off from our partner’s perspective. She or he would feel objectified and then resentful. We will then feel unloved, confused or rejected, not understanding why our partner is always dissatisfied. It is a no win situation.

peer pressure
  • Peer pressure

We are wired to accept as truth what the majority thinks. A manipulator will often draw family members, colleagues or friends that are already loyal to them to prove a point and show they are right. Someone who is sincere will be patient with their loved ones and use logic to share their perspective, or draw from experts’ neutral opinions. For this reason, a couple should be weary to live with family or community members especially if they will automatically side with one party in case of a conflict.

A good relationship takes maturity, experience and SELF-AWARENESS. Here are some of the difficulties that couples may face unintentionally because of their lack of wisdom and personal development

  • Projection

Our intimate partner is our closest mirror. As such, we often interact with the person in the mirror, which is ourselves, instead of our lover. If we make a list of what annoys us in our partner, we will find undoubtedly aspects of us that we have repressed and judged severely. A lot of the attraction we feel for our partner comes from the fact that they express naturally what we have repressed in us. Unfortunately, instead of bringing these aspects back to the conscious mind for positive manifestation, we irrevocably repress or shame these aspects in them, reproducing in them our own fragmentation. Never forget that your intimate partner is for the most part your repressed self, and as such they have invaluable lessons to share with you if you can pay close attention.

projection
  • Needs’ conflict

We may have a tendency to impose our needs over our partner’s needs or on the opposite, put their needs before our own. Both approaches are not sustainable. People can only repress their important needs for so long. First, it takes a commitment for spouses to understand their important needs and communicate them clearly to each other. Then they should creatively think on how to meet all of their needs creatively. Partners are intimately connected so dissatisfaction in one will immediately surface in the relationship  to impact the other. By helping your significant other to get their genuine needs met, you are helping yourself to enjoy a more harmonious relationship. And an affectionate relationship will dramatically improve your quality of life and personal happiness.

double standards
  • Double standards

“Do as I say but not as I do” is the opposite of positive inspiration. It does not work with children and works even less with our partners. In a relationship, double standards can be allowed and will not build resentment only if both partners are consciously aware of them, and it feels fair to them. There are some double standards that may be customary, such as a woman waxing but not her husband. It may be accepted for one spouse not to contribute in cleaning the household if they are the one that brings in all the income. All these agreements have to be made consciously and not assumed because this is the way we were raised. There are some other double standards that may be more problematic. In recomposed families, one spouse may want a lot of focus and attention on his/her own children while feeling very uneasy around his/her partner’s children.  They may want to be the center of attention of his/her partner while providing little care for him/her. Or they may want all of their social time to be spent with his/her friends and not their significant other’s comrades. This is the fastest way to lose credibility. The Golden Rule of treating others as oneself is found in many religions and cultures for a reason.

  • Idealization followed by demonization

This is unfortunately common to so many relationships. At the beginning of a relationship, we can only see the positive in our beloved but give it a couple of years, and we can only see the negative. Then the break-up happens, and we make them literal monsters. People do not change that much and chances are that the person we adored is the same one that we now detest. We just applied a different filter. We shifted from the awareness of our own inner greatness revealed by this person to the projection of our own ugliness. The person you love is just as imperfect as you are. If you were with them, it means they were your match for the time being so demonizing them is nothing different than criticizing yourself. It is best to acknowledge with humility and truth their qualities and shortcomings, and realize that they have a lot to say about you too. Let all feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness and betrayal run inside of you because this is important for your healing, but once these emotions have run their course, strive for objectivity and truth. Forgive them in order to find peace within yourself.

splitting
  • Expectations

Expectation is the other relationship killer. As an example, we have had a long day and we expect our spouse to take care of us when we come home. It is likely that your spouse will have had the same hard day and has the same expectation. This inevitably will lead to a dispute. We always need to come back to the relationship with the intent of giving. If we are unable and we need to receive, let’s express it authentically and vulnerably. Let your partner have the freedom to not support you if they are too drained and not in the right state of mind to do it. As a general rule, you should have 10 times more expectations of yourself than your partner. This will help you receive with gratitude all the little things they do to improve your life. 

don't leave me

It is now easy to see why these types of relationships are the source of so much struggle and suffering. Love feels like a curse. Our loved one drives us insane but we cannot live without them. We are so afraid to be abandoned, or of their emotional reactions that we make a lot of compromises that hurt our personal integrity. As life’s pressures increase with children, financial & professional challenges, or illness, the dysfunctions in the relationship appear even more clearly. The relationship acts as a magnifying glass for our traumas, and our own shortcomings. The only solution is to be introspective, evolve, improve and grow in self-love and self-awareness. Then we will be able to transform our relationship or attract a new one that feels good.

Read part II

Is parental alienation an extreme form of the Oedipus complex?

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Mythology and neurosis have a common essence. The myths are a symbolic expression of the unconscious universal dramas. As such, they reveal many secrets into our psyche. Mythology is a projection of the collective unconscious and these archetypes manifest even more strongly when their awareness is limited.

Oedipus and the Sphinx

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory from Freud. It is inspired by the Athenian tragedy, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. Oedipus could not escape his fate of marrying his mother and killing his father. When expressed in a healthy way, the child’s hatred for the opposite-sex parent and unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent urge the young adult to leave his parents’ nest to start his own life, and look for a compatible mate to start a family. The son leaves his father’s home that has become too restrictive for his own development, and finds a woman that shares many attributes of his own mother in order to heal his own childhood traumas. The father represents what is being rejected while the mother represents what is desired.

While mothers are just as affected by parental alienation as fathers, for the illustration of this article, I will refer the mother as the alienator, and the father as the targeted parent. There are many ways a case of parental alienation seems to evoke the Oedipus complex literally:

  • When the father is alienated, the son is used as a weapon of war by the mother to psychologically kill the father in the children’s mind
  • After the father has been eliminated from the family structure, the son becomes the new de facto husband of the mother. The son is heavily enmeshed and is asked to fill the void left by the father
  • Oedipus father, king Laius, attracted misfortune to him and his family because of his dark previous deeds against Chrysippus. King Laius is also the one ordering the killing of his own son Oedipus. The targeted parent’s tragedy can always be traced to unresolved traumas of his own past and this is what he needs to heal to change the alienation dynamics. He cannot see himself only as a victim but needs to take responsibility for his part in the alienation
  • Oedipus becomes obsessed in finding the killer of King Laius (before he realized that was him) whom he replaced as the new king because the Oracle said this unsolved murder is responsible for a plague in Thebes. In the same way, the alienated child’s life is plagued by self-hatred as he was forced to reject his father from his life. He does not realize that many of his psychological and intimate problems are directly related to the alienation of his own father.
  • In the Oedipus play, Jocasta eventually commits suicide after realizing the horror of incest by marrying her own son, the killer of her husband. Alienators are often very tormented as they eventually realize the psychological damage they have done to their children out of revenge
  • When Oedipus eventually learns that he is his wife’s son, he enters a fury and wants to cut his mother’s womb with a sword. This symbolizes the rage of the alienated child towards his mother when he finally realizes how he has been manipulated for so many years
  • When Oedipus becomes aware of the tragedy of his fate, he makes himself blind by piercing his eyes with golden pins. The alienated son is also torn by guilt about his own actions, in particular his harsh rejection of his father and his blind enmeshment with his mother. Seeing the truth may be so brutal that he may decide instead to shut down his conscience.
  • Oedipus’s sons Eteocles and Polynices end up fighting for power and killing each other. His daughter Antigone commits suicide. The alienated child carries with him the psychological damage coming from years of alienation. As an adult, he is likely to experience similar unfortunate events in his own family life because of transgenerational trauma
Blind Oedipus in exile with his daughter Antigone

The light of awareness has however the power to lift away the curse of parental alienation. As they mature, the alienated children have the ability to see the truth of their childhood, accept the limitations of their parents and start the process of forgiving them. Then, they will be able to break the cycle of abuse and abandonment to give their own children a life that is not plagued by intimacy issues.

What are transgenerational traumas and how do we transmute them?

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Healing legacies of pain

There have been a lot of studies that have attempted to show that mental illness is genetic. For example, two percent of the population is bipolar. However; the probability of a person being bipolar raises to fifteen percent if they have one parent that is bipolar and to fifty percent if they have two parents that have this condition. I have facilitated hundreds of healing sessions. Therefore; I can explain why we get this correlation. From my perspective, this is not about genes but about the psychological condition of the people raising us.

The first important thing to understand is that, as a child, we are all wired to bond with our primary caretakers, typically our biological parents. This bonding is critical to our survival and our primitive brain has instinctively learned this behavior through many thousands of generations. In ancient times, children that erred away from the protection of their parents would be eaten by predators and their genes would be lost. So naturally bonding between parents and children became instinctive to improve survival rates. In order to attach to their parents and feel safe, children need to make their parents right, perfect and good even when there are far from being exemplary. This is how all transgenerational trauma get passed from one generation to the next.

Child bonded with parents

Let’s say someone had some severe spankings from his father when he was a child and continued to have a good relationship with him throughout his adulthood. Unless there was conscious work done around these punishments, this person had to make his dad right as a child to continue bonding with his father even despite the fact he was beating him. Therefore he started developing beliefs such as “Dad is right punishing me because I am bad” or “Dad beats me because he loves me and is making me a better person this way”. These beliefs get subconsciously anchored in the inner child and will resurface in adulthood. Such a person will have a high tendency to reproduce the same physical punishments on his children because his inner child still believes that loving someone means beating them at times. They could also attract violent partners because deep in their subconscious mind, beating equal love. Or they may simply suffer from low self-esteem because they had to make themselves bad to keep dad good.

One of my clients was raised by an unstable borderline narcissist mother. She would give him severe beatings even after he became physically stronger than her and could have easily defended himself. He learned to always stay in control, de-escalate arguments and never express anger to sooth her neurosis. His mother was very sexual and flirted often with him when he was a teenager. He felt very ashamed with his sexual attraction towards her and buried those feelings too. As a result, he has been married twice to severely borderline women. The first one committed suicide and the second one left him for another man after destroying his life emotionally and financially. His inner child had to make mum perfect and good so he had to make her erratic behaviors, her rages, her constant dramas and her collapses as something good or even sexy! This is why he has been attracted to women like his mother all his life. When the scary and dangerous behavior is displayed in a potential mate, he feels irresistibly attracted. This is why we say falling in love and not jumping in love. Sexual attraction is more driven by shadow than conscious compatibility.

Borderline Angelina Jolie

One of my other clients was abandoned by his mother when he was 9. His mother felt unloved in her marriage, met a new romantic partner, and wanted to give a chance to the promise of love. He had been deeply hurt by his mother’s sudden disappearance but he had to justify his mother’s behavior because he had to continue to love her. Later in life, he got married and had children. When his own daughter turned 9, he also broke up his marriage, fell in love with another woman and moved out of the state. He actually did not see anything wrong with his behavior because his mother did this to him, and his mother could not have done anything possibly wrong. So he passed on his own abandonment traumas to his children because he subconsciously had to make his mum right and good. Actually his mother had been herself abandoned by her own mother as a young child too.

Vaillant healing an African woman in Cameroon

When I was in Africa, I provided healing to a number of people who had been abandoned by their parents and given away to an aunt. This is actually common practice in some parts of Africa as children are often seen as objects or helpers. This old custom is not frowned upon, but does considerable psychological damage because these children believe there was something wrong with them to be given away. They wonder why they were given away instead of their biological brothers and sisters. These abandoned children have to make this harmful practice normal or even beneficial to keep a good image of their parents. Consequently, they have a tendency to repeat the same pattern with their own children. This is how unhealthy behaviors get passed from generation to generation. This is why 80% of juvenile sex offenders have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Horrors such as incest also get passed through the family line in the same way. Incest victims are more likely to enable the same dysfunction with their own husband later in life. By failing to protect their own children from sexual abuse from their partner, they are making dad right again. This sick behavior comes from the unconscious need from the child to bond with parents at all cost. Unfortunately, these aspects get frozen in time and stay at a very immature level of development. They cycle of abuse then continue.

When we are abused by someone we need to love, we fragment and we bury the traumatic event into our subconscious so that our conscious mind can just remember a good, protective and flawless parent. The mind then files the traumatic subconscious memories in the same category as love/fusion/safety/connection/affection because they are the values we associate with a loving parent. The mind not only buries all the traumatic memories but also all emotions that come with them. Fear, grief, anger, despair and many negative emotions get buried at the same time. Instead of being released with the body for healing purpose, these discordant vibrations go deep within our psyche to poison it.

Some other times, the conscious mind is not able to accept or justify the abuse anymore, so it will go the opposite way and demonize the formerly loved caretaker. The child becomes obsessed in not being like the abusive parent. He rejects all good aspects of him too. From all good, the parent becomes all bad. All aspects of the parent within the growing child become then repressed but they still exist in his subconscious mind. Self-hatred and denial develop within the individual. As a result, she or he is even more a match to attract romantic partners or co-workers displaying the same attribute as the rejected parent. The law of attraction always reflects the individual inner world whether it is conscious or not.

African polygamous priest

One of my other clients had a father that was a womanizer. This was a source of distress for his mother and him, and from the time he was a teenager, he cut all contact with his father and he judged his behavior very severely. He was very righteous and became a successful pastor in a church. He was a model in the community and led an exemplary life with his wife and two children. As he was a gifted orator, he attracted a lot of attention from the churchgoers. Ten years into the marriage, he felt however that his sexual life was unexciting and unfulfilling, and that he was missing out. He could feel the sexual energy of these young women looking at him like he was the eighth wonder of the world. The pull to experience adultery was getting stronger and stronger, and he felt more and more confused and haunted by the devil. One day, the temptation became too great and he had an affair with another married woman that attended his sermon regularly. He felt very tormented as a result. By being obsessed about not being like his father, he had actually made these aspects control him.

When we hate a parent, it is like hating oneself because we had to internalize them at an earlier age to deal with the abuse. So we create a war within oneself and in a war, there is never a winner, only losers. We cannot kill these internal aspects without hurting ourselves. These aspects still needed to be expressed but because we made them unacceptable, they had to hide deep in our subconscious. Because of this, we are only able to experience them through projections, just like this righteous pastor who would judge infidelity so severely.

There is a better way and it is neither in idealization or demonization of our primary caretakers. Truth will set us free. This truth lies in accepting that we will always love our parents and when we have the courage to see their flaws, limitations and good qualities for what they are, without judgment, we will be liberated. When the truth of our past gets revealed, our conscience grows. We then allow the same aspects within us to surface in our conscious mind for integration. For example; if your father is a sociopath, it is likely that you would have aspects of you that are very insensitive and shut down. If you are able to see and observe these sociopathic behaviors in your father with compassion, then you are able to have the same awareness about your own insensitive behaviors and make the choice not to act upon it. This is why awareness is everything in the process of integration and healing. These aspects of ourselves may be repurposed and used consciously. For example, there are some situations in life when we need to think and not feel (ie when dealing with toxic people or situations). This would be a good time to bring our sociopathic part. A romantic dinner is not a good place for it! Alternatively, we can recover the pain that we felt being raised with our aloof father. By doing so, we are able to develop more awareness to make people around us feel more supported, cherished and nurtured. Every part of us, even the most hurt and undeveloped, can grow and increase in vibration if we have the courage to objectively see our flaws and how they impact others.

Honest not perfect parents

Before we can reach this state of objectivity with our parents, it is critical that we allow ourselves to feel all the emotions about them that we have repressed since our early childhood, whether they are feelings of rage, hate, envy, pity or fear. We express all these raw feelings to ourselves through meditation or to a skilled therapist. Through this process, we become aware of them, and the light of consciousness will automatically transform them into higher emotions such as sadness, acceptance or even gratitude. However, this process cannot be rushed and we need to stay authentic about how we truly feel. If we are able to see our parents’ imperfection with compassion, it means we have made our own generation more conscious, which is expected of us. It shows us the progress we have already made. We also want our children to go further than us. One of the most important things we need to do on this earth is to transform the transgenerational trauma that came from our family line. This is what will bring us the most happiness, joy and inner peace.

Integrated family

Someone who is not at peace with his parents cannot be at peace him/herself. It does not mean we need to have frequent interactions with them, because in some situations, it would not be self-loving if we have toxic parents. Peace is above the polarity of adoration and detestation. It sits in the middle. It can make space for both perspectives without judgment with full awareness. It is simply interested in the truth. There are many extraordinary people that had very abusive parents. Just like the lotus, which grows from mud, our soul grows from life struggles and we have the power within us to transform the most unsavory into the most sacred.

From the difficulties of our childhood, we learn important lessons that we can share with our children and our community to make this world a better place. We can extract the most wisdom from the most painful life situations. When we suffer, we cannot stay stagnant and it has the potential to accelerate our growth as long as we do not get broken in the process. We need to see transgenerational weaknesses as unexpressed potential. A sex addict can become the most amazing lover, violence can be channeled into athleticism or a desire for peace, the perpetrator or the victim can become protectors. We need to accept that we were co-created by our ancestry (earth/matter) and God (heaven/spirit). To become whole, we cannot reject one or the other; we need to integrate both together. Healing our ancestry is to transcend the polarities that we inherited from our genealogy in terms of abuse, abandonment or neglect. It is to recognize that all these parts exist within us and stop judging them. Through the miracle of unconditional love and presence, they can start growing again and mature. Eventually inner torment will make way to a lasting inner peace.

Most of us spend the first half of our life very heavily influenced by the transgenerational traumas of our family line. As we heal these fragments, we can start living a more conscious life from our authentic self. We become more anchored in the present, more sensitive to what actually is, in the moment, instead of living through the filters of our upbringing. Things begin to flow naturally and the scope of possibilities expands dramatically as we are not limited by our ancestral traumas anymore. It is then that life takes on a completely different dimension, and we are then free to be the expanded, transformational and joyful beings that we came here to be. 

Divine justice

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We live in an unfair world. For the most part, the dice are thrown at birth. If you are raised in an upper-middle class family in Silicon Valley, your chance of professional and financial success are a million times higher than if you were born into a broken family with an alcoholic father in Cameroon. I have traveled to over 50 countries in the world and I can see how determining the environment we are raised in is.

Life is unfair

All leaders understand that an organization is far more successful when its members believe they are treated fairly and that the system is a meritocracy, where progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth. Many good leaders strive to create order from the natural chaos of life, and ensure that group members are rewarded according to their actual contribution, themselves included. Unfortunately; many leaders in all branches of society are only making the pretense of justice through sophisticated manipulations and dissimulations, while continuing to follow purely selfish desires. This is why people are more and more disillusioned with politics as they see more and more clearly through the web of lies of leading political parties. But this trend is encompassing all fields of society.

I have had extensive experience with the US legal system and I can only see there the law of the fittest and not the law of justice. People are being fooled by the illusion of fairness in the legal system because laws appear to be neutral and impartial. However, people interpreting the laws are subjective and can easily fall into diverse manipulation, corruption or weakness of character. Most people that have had to endure the US legal system realize that the system itself composed of judges, lawyers and specialists was a more redoubtable adversary than the foe they intended to protect themselves from. I may sound harsh with the US legal system but it is actually better than many legal systems throughout the world that are even far more corrupt.

The injustice system

Following the same train of thoughts, many people, mostly atheists, are arguing that if God was omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, justice and love as all religions claim, then why would the world carry so much pain? We can witness so many real stories where “the good” are abused by “the bad” or where “the cheaters” win over the principled ones. This goes against everything we read or watched as a kid. We get to realize we were led to believe in justice so that we could better manipulated but that it is mostly an illusion.

However; there are many people that came from horrendous childhood environments and managed to overcome their challenging background to achieve extraordinary success. Motivational speakers abound in citing examples from famous people overcoming early struggles.  Though they are a minority, I personally know people who endured the worst possible childhood and who were later on able to raise on top of their field. But if we look at these outliers, these same people had some extraordinary talent that made possible for them to create new opportunities in their life. So to an extent, they were gifted with some good cards despite their environment. So even this argument is more the exception that confirms the rule that we do not live in a fair environment.

Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs came from humble beginnings

We make the mistake to equate financial & professional success as the ultimate goal in life. However, if we dive deeper within, we realize that genuine happiness is really what we are after. We only want to be successful as far as we think it is going to make us happy. We all know financially and professionally successful people that are miserable and ordinary people that live a truly happy life. So it appears that happiness may be far less dependent on external situations than we may think.

I can see in my meditation that behind the background of emotions we got to experience every day such as excitement, sadness, joy or disappointment, we can find another dimension of self, the one that is beyond the roles we play everyday. When we commune with our inner self, and we touch our core, what do we find there? Peace or torment.

Torment has many characteristics. It feels like something is missing, that we are out of integrity, we cannot sit still as a result and we are looking for ways to distract ourselves. Judgment towards others or self-hatred which is really the same thing, restlessness, shame, the desire to hide our shameful self by projecting a new persona, identification with negative emotions, feeling split and divided, the feeling unworthy of love, alone and disconnected are all attributes of this state. Actually; many successful people are tormented. Their professional activity or financial success may be simply a coping mechanism for hiding their unhealed traumas or not a direct creative expression of their being.

torment

Peace, on the opposite, comes with the alignment of our personality with our higher self. In that state, we feel love effortlessly by the simple act of being alive. We feel complete, and we may be alone without feeling lonely. We have desires without compulsive needs. We have faith in our future, and we are grateful of the lessons learned even if they were painful. We feel guided and protected. We stay the same authentic person in all situations. We are able to be fully present. Our activities are a natural and direct expression of our being and not an escape.

peace

Genuine and lasting happiness comes mostly from our inner-self and it will determine if we experience torment or peace. This is where divine justice lies. When life brings us joy, we can simply rejoice in it but as life brings us suffering, we have the choice of using this hardship and learning from it. We can then get more loving, compassionate, pure and wise. The conscious experience of suffering can help us narrow the gap between our personality and our spirit, to live a more authentic life and experience inner peace as a result.

One year ago, I lost the woman I loved which compounded the loss of my 2 children 2 years prior. This brought very deep torment to my soul. I struggled with guilt, sadness, betrayal, disappointment, bitterness, discouragement, and depression. I used the very same tools that I am practicing daily on my healing clients, to heal myself.  These tools include: inner work, introspection, conscious somatic experience of negative emotions, learning the lessons, surrounding the hurt aspects with unconditional love & presence, taking responsibility and initiating the appropriate actions.

Divine justice

During the past year, my external situation did not change. However; I am now feeling very different. I am finally AT PEACE. I realize this is the most important thing. This makes me believe that divine justice does exist because there is always a way to make a profit from suffering that comes our way. We are not choosing suffering consciously (though it can be argued that our higher self does) but when tragedy strikes, we still have a choice to look for the hidden gift. The fact that the painful external situation that revealed the inner struggle or unhealed traumas (the loss of love or children in my case) is not changing despite a drastic improved inner state is not a contradiction with the law of attraction because we live in an abundant universe. The law of attraction needs to respect the free will and the point of attraction of all parties involved. So, for example, if one has been alienated from his children, a loving stepchild may appear. Or if the former beloved does not come back to your life, an even more beautiful love will manifest. This is why it is so important not to be fixated on the outcome, but instead to follow one’s heart and surrender to spirit. Human justice may be imperfect so take refuge in divine justice, and inner peace becomes our ultimate reward. Help yourself, and God will help you.

How I ran a full marathon without ever training for more than 3 miles

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Vaillant completes a full marathon

I am a big believer in the balance of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of us. Actually, each aspect is symbolized by one of the four elements. Fire for spiritual (really for the soul plane as spirit correlates to Ether or the 5th element), water for emotional, air for mental and earth for physical. Earth is the resultant of fire, water and air elements working together. The quality of our external physical manifestations is therefore directly connected to the quality of our intentions, feelings and thoughts. From my perspective, human beings true mission is to bring the truth of the higher spiritual spheres into our physical reality, hence to bring heaven on earth. Many of us deviate from this purpose as we listen to our ego rather than to our heart.   

A healthy mind in a healthy body

Many spiritual people deny or reject the physical dimension while it is the crucible of our spiritual achievements. This is why we say that actions speak louder than words. On the same token, Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase, usually translated as “a sound mind in a sound body”. The phrase is widely used in sporting and educational contexts to express the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being. Emotional healing needs to go hand in hand with physical healing so I got inspired to get myself back in shape. I also wanted to make a statement for a cause that is close to my heart so I decided to sign up for my first full marathon in Salt Lake City.

As I was doing some online research on preparing for the marathon, I came across a video with Wim Hof, a Dutchman that ran a full marathon in shorts and sandals in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F) above the arctic circle in Finland. He is an adept of meditation and yoga. A lot of scientific studies have been conducted about him that proved his claims. In one of his videos, he said that “awakening is to be happy, strong, and healthy; the rest is BULLSHIT!” And I could not agree with him more. I subsequently read a book he co-authored with Koen De Jong “The way of the iceman”.

The Way of the Iceman

There is a lot of information online about it but basically the Wim Hof method is a combination of breathing exercises and cold training. I am a morning person and this is when I have the most energy. I decided to create my own routine built on these two principles. I would wake-up, put on some motivational workout music, do 3 series of abdominal crunch and push-ups. Then, I would start the Wim Hof breathing exercises that he actually learned from Tibetan Buddhism. I noticed that holding the breath is the part that kicks the primal brain that is responsible for survival and the immune system. While I could only hold my breath for 1 minute initially, I managed to hold it for 3 minutes a month later. Wim Hof is able to hold his breath for about 10 minutes. I noticed that after the third repetition of the breathing exercise, I felt strong and inspired to do anything. The first day I tried it, it was 6 am in Salt Lake City on March 14th under icy condition. I went out with a shirt and shorts. After 2 minutes running, I felt a sense of exhilaration and I took my shirt off and started running bare chest. I felt amazing and so alive. I ran 1.5 mile that first day. The rare people or drivers I came across may have wondered about this crazy guy running naked in freezing Salt Lake City Avenues. I came back home and took a shower, first warm to bring back my body to normal temperature but ended with a cold shower. My torso was red due to the blood circulation but this is actually a healthy sign. Then I would meditate to connect to my heart and plan my day accordingly to live an inspired life. And it happened to be a good day so I got motivated to do it a second day. My body would actually wake me up naturally early, because it was getting already addicted to the high of feeling alive, typically associated with a dopamine or melatonin rush. I kept this strict routine for 7 days in a row. Then I hit a wall. I intuitively felt would get sick if I were to push harder so I took a break.

inner children in adults

As I mentioned in previous blogs, we are a multitude within ourselves. If we keep pushing while ignoring the internal parts of us that feel weak, depressed, worthless or unlovable, these parts will eventually rebel which may manifest in illness or accident. These so-called parts are actually very powerful as they are connected to the inner child, the seat of the soul. During the following week, I did a lot of meditation to listen to these hurt and tender parts of my being, which is commonly called inner child work, while giving my body a well-deserved rest. The adult and child selves within me starting to collaborate more effectively, and I created an inner child playlist mostly made to songs of my childhood. Moving forward, during my routine, I would play both playlists so all my inner children and adults could feel included into this process of getting back in shape. The inner adults bring discipline, knowledge, reason, toughness while the inner children bring enthusiasm, joy, kindness and connection to spirit. Once they start working together, true miracles are possible.

I have included my actual detailed jogging training. As you can see, it alternates cycles of training with periods of rest. And this routine takes relatively little time, 45 minutes at most.

jogging schedule

So I ran a total of 24 miles in total to train for the marathon (less than the marathon distance), never exceeding 3 miles on any given morning however all of these runs happened at low temperature (between 20 and 40 degree Fahrenheit) while running bare chest.

Wim Hof running half naked in winter

One of my training was rather funny and somewhat embarrassing. One of my friends invited me at his cabin in the mountain with over 10 feet of snow. While he started running with me, he quickly returned home. After my regular 20 minute running, I came back but for the life of me, I could not find my way home, as all cabins looked the same. I circled for a while but I was definitely lost. There was also no cell coverage so there is no one I could call. I had to find someone to help me out but the whole neighborhood was empty. There was so much snow that to access any cabin, I would have to plunge into 2 feet of fresh snow well above my knees. There was no street access to the cabins, and most residents there have a snowmobile. There was a small sense of panic but somehow my primal brain had already kicked in due to my new routine and I felt relatively calm and confident. After a few unsuccessful tries, I managed to locate a cabin with people inside. They were definitely surprised to find a naked man asking for hospitality but they were very gracious about it. I called my friend using the WIFI of my unexpected hosts. My friend did not even know his exact address, only the street name as all numbers were covered in snow. I got a map of the residential neighborhood from my new host, and started running again to my friend’s cabin. But after another 25 minutes running in the cold, I still could not find him as it was a rather long street and all cabins looked the same so I had no another choice to return again to my kind hosts. This time, I asked my friend to stay in the street and my compassionate host drove me this time with his snowmobile. And I arrived safely to my friend’s cabin. I was not at all shaken from that experience. We simply laughed, I took a hot shower and then snowboarded the whole day after that. No unnecessary energy had been wasted in fear.

It had snowed the day prior to the Salt Lake City marathon on April 13th. I went to the start a race with shorts and a custom shirt I had designed for my cause, which was now holding my bib. My cold training proved to be very convenient as most runners start the race with lots of layers that they probably had to remove later as it got warmer. I started the race slowly, understanding that I would need the endurance to run approximately 5 hours. I would only play meditation music the first two hours, keeping my workout and inner child playlist for the second part of the race to give me the necessary boosts as things got tougher.

Vaillant running a marathon

My cardio and my spirit felt great however after only one hour, I felt that my legs were heavy and that my kidneys were strained. I had not trained my legs enough so they would realistically be my limiting factor. After 3 hours, my legs and feet were hurting a lot and I used my playlists to kick in my primal brain. This is a form of NLP technique as the music can now be used to trigger the state. I was then running on heart and will alone. I ran one more hour this way until I reach mile 20. Then my legs abandoned me. I became simply incapable of running so I switched to walking. Walking seemed easy at first as it used different leg muscles, and I found out that I could walk relatively fast. The last two miles were however excruciating and I started limping. I had thoughts of giving up but I could not do it now so close from the finish line. And I finally did cross it after almost 6 hours!

Vaillant slowly decomposing when running a full marathon

I called my friend Branson and he picked me up. But little did I realize that I had only won half the battle. Recovering from this grueling effort was next. I had to crawl to get to my bedroom as I was incapable of walking anymore. There, I laid on my bed completely disabled so I called Christian to bring me bananas and water. I just did not have enough energy to have a regular meal. For the next 20 hours, I just alternated between sleep and waking time where I would listen an audio program to distract myself. My energy was even too weak to watch a movie on my phone. The hardest part was to crawl to the bathroom to urinate as I had to drink lots of water to support my kidneys’ healing. It was like being sick. The second day of recovery was a bit better. I still could not leave my bed but I could binge on watching movies, and got myself a real meal. During that recovery time, I use a lot of my awareness to be fully present to my body in order to speed up the healing, no matter how much it hurt. The following Monday, my mind was alert and could do some work on the computer though I was limping pretty badly but at least I was mobile again. Tuesday, I was able to go out at night with friends. I gave ample rest to my body during these days, keeping an easy schedule. On Thursday night, I was scheduled to play a tennis league match against the best team of the league, which had won the nationals last year. I had recovered just in time. Just before the match, I did the breathing exercises taught by Wim Hof which I had not done since the marathon. It kicked back my primal brain. I was calm, and determined to win. As expected, I played against a much better player than me but I felt so strong mentally that I ended up winning 6/3 6/4. My opponent lost his composure, as he could not make sense of my resistance on the tennis court to what was supposed to be an easy win for him. I had an overwhelming desire to win while not facing any stress at all. All my teammates were impressed by my win as they were all severely defeated and we ended up losing 4 matches to 1. This single win was however determinant as it kept us on the second position of the league, keeping our chance to qualify for the district tournament.

Vaillant doing the 999 bike ride in Salt Lake City

But the night was not over. My friend Matt called me up and asked me to join him for the 999 ride in Salt Lake City. It is a weekly bike ride that happens at 9 AM at the corner of 900 S and 900 E. So I went biking with over 100 fun people in the streets of Salt Lake City on a beautiful full moon until midnight. I ended up also speaking with a homeless guy to try to help him out, and meet a bunch of interesting people. The night got cooler but I felt great all along. Even after I came home, I still had plenty of energy. Thank you Wim Hof. I can attest from my own personal experience that your stuff works!

However, just like every new information, it is important to make it your own. We need to experiment just as a scientist would do what works and does not work. We use our body sensations, feelings and emotions as our feedback mechanism and inner guidance system. While a teacher such as Wim Hof can provide valuable information and point us in the right direction, our progress lies first and foremost within ourselves. It takes personal discipline, curiosity, introspection, intelligence, proactivity and persistence.

What are you willing to experiment to create a higher quality of life?

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessus

Voir la vidéo

Comment j’ai couru un marathon de 42 km sans jamais m’entraîner sur plus de 5 kilomètres

Je crois en l’équilibre des aspects physique, émotionnel, mental et spirituel à l’intérieur de nous. En réalité, chaque aspect est symbolisé par l’un des quatre éléments. Le feu pour le spirituel (je parle ici du plan de l’âme, car l’esprit est associé à l’Ether qui est le 5e élément dont les 4 éléments sont issus), l’eau pour l’émotionnel, l’air pour le mental et la terre pour le physique. La terre est la résultante de l’action des éléments feu, eau et air travaillant ensemble. La qualité de nos manifestations physiques externes est donc directement liée à la qualité de nos intentions, sentiments et pensées. De mon point de vue, la vraie mission de l’homme consiste à apporter la vérité des sphères spirituelles supérieures au sein de notre réalité physique, et donc à amener le paradis sur terre. Beaucoup d’entre nous s’écartent de ce but en écoutant leur ego plutôt que leur cœur.

De nombreuses personnes spirituelles nient ou rejettent la dimension physique alors que c’est le creuset de nos réalisations spirituelles. C’est pourquoi nous disons que les actions parlent plus fort que les mots. De même, « Mens sana in corpore sano » est une expression latine, généralement traduite par « Un esprit sain dans un corps sain ». Cette expression est largement utilisée dans les contextes sportif et éducatif pour exprimer la théorie selon laquelle l’exercice physique est un élément important ou essentiel du bien-être mental et psychologique. La guérison émotionnelle doit aller de pair avec la guérison physique, et cela m’a inspiré pour me remettre en forme. Je voulais aussi courir pour la cause de l’aliénation parentale, alors j’ai décidé de m’inscrire à mon premier marathon à Salt Lake City.

Alors que je faisais des recherches en ligne pour me préparer marathon, je suis tombé sur une vidéo de Wim Hof, un Hollandais qui a couru un marathon en short et sandales à des températures proches de -20 °C juste au-dessus du cercle arctique en Finlande. C’est un adepte de la méditation et du yoga. De nombreuses études scientifiques ont été menées à son sujet, qui ont prouvé la véracité de ses propos. Dans l’une de ses vidéos, il a déclaré que « S’éveiller, c’est être heureux, fort et en bonne santé ; le reste, ce ne sont que des bêtises ! ». Et je ne pouvais pas être plus d’accord avec lui. J’ai, par la suite, lu un livre qu’il a coécrit avec Koen De Jung : « La voie de l’homme des glaces ».

Il existe de nombreuses informations en ligne à son sujet, mais la méthode de Wim Hof consiste essentiellement en une combinaison d’exercices de respiration et d’entraînement au froid. Je suis une personne matinale et c’est, à ce moment-là, que j’ai le plus d’énergie. J’ai donc décidé de créer ma propre routine basée sur ces deux principes. Chaque matin, au réveil, je mets donc de la musique motivante, je fais trois séries d’exercices abdominaux et des pompes. Ensuite, je fais les exercices de respiration de Wim Hof qu’il avait, en fait, appris du bouddhisme tibétain. J’ai remarqué qu’après les trente hyperventilations, retenir le souffle est la partie qui déclenche le cerveau primal responsable de la survie, de la motivation et de l’instinct. Alors que je ne pouvais retenir ma respiration que pendant une minute au début, je réussis à présent à retenir mon souffle pendant trois minutes un mois plus tard. Wim Hof est capable de retenir son souffle pendant environ dix minutes. Après la troisième répétition de l’exercice de respiration, je me sens fort et je suis impatient de commencer à courir. Le premier jour où je l’ai fait, j’étais à Salt Lake City le quatorze mars, à six heures du matin, dans des conditions glaciales. Je ne portais qu’un T-shirt et un short. Après deux minutes de course, je me suis senti exalté et j’ai enlevé mon T-shirt pour courir la poitrine nue. Je me sentais fort et vraiment vivant. J’ai couru deux kilomètres et demi ce premier jour. Les rares personnes ou conducteurs que j’ai croisés ce matin-là se sont peut-être interrogés sur ce fou qui courait à moitié nu dans les rues de Salt Lake City à une température négative. Mon torse et mes jambes étaient rouges à cause de la circulation sanguine, mais c’est, en fait, un signe de bonne santé. Je suis rentré à la maison et j’ai pris une douche, tout d’abord chaude pour ramener mon corps à une température normale, puis j’ai fini par prendre une douche froide. Ensuite, j’ai médité pour me connecter à mon cœur et j’ai planifié ma journée en suivant l’inspiration du moment. Et comme ce fut une bonne journée, cela m’a motivé pour recommencer le jour suivant et ensuite, celui d’après. En fait, mon corps me réveillait naturellement plus tôt, parce qu’il était déjà accro au sentiment de se sentir vivant et en bonne santé. J’ai gardé cette routine pendant sept jours d’affilée. Puis je me suis heurté à un mur. J’avais intuitivement l’impression de commencer à tomber malade si je venais à trop forcer. J’ai donc pris une pause pendant une semaine.

Comme je l’ai mentionné dans mes blogs précédents, nous sommes une multitude en nous-mêmes. Si nous continuons à forcer en ignorant nos parties internes qui se sentent faibles, déprimées ou sans valeur, ces parties finiront par se rebeller et pourraient créer une maladie ou un accident. Ces soi-disant parties sont en réalité très puissantes, car elles sont connectées à l’enfant intérieur, le siège de l’âme. Au cours de la semaine suivante, j’ai donc beaucoup médité pour écouter ces parties de mon être douloureuses et tendres, un processus communément appelé travail de l’enfant intérieur, tout en donnant à mon corps un repos bien mérité. L’adulte et l’enfant en moi ont commencé à collaborer plus efficacement, et j’ai créé une liste de musique pour mon enfant intérieur, principalement composée de chansons de mon enfance. Par la suite, pendant ma routine du matin, j’alternais mes deux listes de musique pour que tous mes enfants et mes adultes intérieurs puissent se sentir impliqués dans ma remise en forme. Les adultes intérieurs apportent discipline, connaissance, raison, endurance tandis que les enfants intérieurs apportent enthousiasme, joie, gentillesse et connexion à l’esprit. Une fois qu’ils travaillent ensemble, de vrais miracles sont possibles.

J’ai inclus mon entraînement de jogging détaillé. Comme vous pouvez le constater, il alterne des cycles d’entraînement avec des périodes de repos. Et cette routine prend relativement peu de temps, 45 minutes au maximum.

J’ai donc couru trente-huit kilomètres au total pour m’entraîner pour le marathon (moins que la distance du marathon), ne dépassant jamais cinq kilomètres chaque matin, mais toutes ces courses se sont déroulées à basse température (entre -5 et 5 degrés centigrades) en courant torse nu.

Un de mes entraînement était plutôt amusant et quelque peu gênant. Un de mes amis m’avait invité à son chalet dans la montagne avec plus de trois mètres de neige. Alors qu’il avait commencé à courir avec moi, il est rapidement rentré chez lui. Après mes vingt minutes de course habituelles, je suis rentré, mais malgré tous mes efforts, je ne parvenais pas à retrouver mon chemin, car toutes les chalets se ressemblaient. J’ai tourné en rond pendant un bon moment, mais j’étais vraiment perdu. Il n’y avait pas non plus de couverture réseau, donc je ne pouvais appeler personne. Je devais trouver quelqu’un pour m’aider, mais tous les sentiers étaient vides. Il y avait tellement de neige que pour accéder à un chalet, il me fallait plonger dans un mètre de neige fraîche bien au-dessus de mes genoux. Les chalets n’étaient pas accessibles par la rue et la plupart des résidents avaient une motoneige. J’ai eu alors un léger sentiment de panique, mais mon cerveau primal avait déjà commencé à fonctionner à cause de ma routine et je me sentais relativement calme et confiant. Après quelques tentatives infructueuses, j’ai réussi à localiser un chalet avec des personnes à l’intérieur. Ils étaient vraiment surpris de trouver un homme nu demandant l’hospitalité, mais ils se sont montrés très aimables. J’ai appelé mon ami en utilisant le wi-fi de mes sauveurs. Mon ami ne connaissait même pas son adresse exacte, seulement le nom de la rue, car tous les numéros étaient recouverts de neige. On m’a donné un plan du quartier et j’ai recommencé à courir vers le chalet de mon ami. Mais après vingt-cinq autres minutes supplémentaires de course dans le froid, je ne le retrouvais toujours pas, car la rue était assez longue et tous les chalets étaient identiques. Je n’avais donc pas d’autre choix que de retourner vers la maison de mes gentils hôtes surprises. Cette fois-ci, j’ai demandé à mon ami de rester dans la rue, et une personne m’a conduit avec sa motoneige. Et finalement, je suis bien rentré au chalet de mon ami. Je n’étais pas du tout ébranlé par cette expérience. Nous avons simplement ri, j’ai pris une douche chaude, puis j’ai fait du snowboard toute la journée. Aucune énergie inutile n’avait été gaspillée dans la peur.

Il avait neigé la veille du marathon de Salt Lake City le treize avril. Je me suis présenté au départ avec un short et un T-shirt personnalisé que j’avais conçu pour ma cause de réunification familiale, recouvert maintenant par mon dossard. Mon entraînement au froid s’est avéré très utile, car la plupart des coureurs débutent la course avec beaucoup de survêtements qu’ils doivent généralement enlever plus tard quand il fait plus chaud. J’ai commencé la course lentement, comprenant qu’il me faudrait de l’endurance pour courir environ cinq heures. Je n’ai fait que jouer de la musique de méditation les deux premières heures, afin de réserver mes musiques d’entraînement pour la deuxième partie de la course, quand la fatigue allait me rattraper.

Mes poumons et mon moral étaient hauts, mais après seulement une heure, j’ai senti que mes jambes s’alourdissaient et que mes reins étaient en suractivité. Je n’avais pas suffisamment entraîné mes jambes, et elles devenaient donc mon facteur limitant. Après trois heures de courses, mes jambes et mes pieds me faisaient très mal, et j’ai utilisé ma musique de motivation pour enclencher mon cerveau primal. C’est une forme de technique de PNL, car la musique pouvait maintenant être utilisée pour déclencher l’état. Je courais alors simplement avec la force du cœur et ma volonté. J’ai couru une heure de plus dans cet état jusqu’à atteindre le vingtième kilomètre. Puis mes jambes m’ont abandonné. Je suis devenu incapable de courir davantage, alors je suis passé à la marche. La marche semblait facile au début, car elle utilisait différents muscles de la jambe et j’ai découvert que je pouvais marcher relativement vite. Les trois derniers kilomètres étaient cependant insoutenables et j’ai commencé à boîter. J’ai pensé abandonner, mais je ne pouvais pas le faire maintenant si près de la ligne d’arrivée. Et je l’ai finalement traversée après presque 6 heures !

J’ai appelé mon ami Branson qui est venu me chercher. Je ne réalisais cependant pas que je n’avais gagné que la moitié de la bataille. Se remettre de cet effort exténuant était le prochain défi. J’ai dû marcher à quatre pattes afin de rejoindre ma chambre, incapable de marcher. Je me suis couché sur mon lit, complètement handicapé et j’ai appelé mon ami Christian pour qu’il m’apporte des bananes et de l’eau. Je n’avais tout simplement pas assez d’énergie pour prendre un repas régulier. Pendant les vingt heures qui ont suivi, j’ai simplement alterné les heures de sommeil et de veille, où j’écoutais un programme audio pour me distraire. Mon énergie était même trop faible pour regarder un film sur mon téléphone. La partie la plus difficile était de ramper vers les toilettes, car je devais boire beaucoup d’eau pour faciliter la guérison de mes reins. J’étais comme malade. Le deuxième jour de récupération a été un peu mieux. Je ne pouvais toujours pas quitter mon lit, mais je pouvais regarder des films et prendre un vrai premier repas. Pendant ce temps de récupération, j’ai utilisé une grande partie de ma conscience pour être pleinement présent dans mon corps afin d’accélérer la guérison, peu importe la douleur. Le lendemain, mon esprit était à nouveau alerte et je pouvais travailler sur mon ordinateur même si je boîtais encore beaucoup, mais au moins j’étais mobile. Mardi, j’ai pu sortir le soir avec des amis. J’ai donné beaucoup de repos à mon corps pendant ces jours, en allégeant mon emploi du temps. Le jeudi soir, je devais disputer un match de tennis contre la meilleure équipe de la ligue, qui avait remporté les championnats nationaux l’année dernière. J’avais récupéré juste à temps. Peu avant le match, j’ai fait les exercices de respiration enseignés par Wim Hof, ce que je n’avais pas fait depuis le marathon. Cela a réactivé mon cerveau primal. J’étais calme et déterminé à gagner. Comme prévu, j’ai joué contre un joueur bien meilleur que moi, mais je me sentais si fort mentalement que j’ai fini par gagner 6/3-6/4. Mon adversaire a perdu son calme, car il ne réalisait pas ce qui lui arrivait. J’avais un désir irrésistible de gagner sans être stressé. Tous mes co-équipiers ont été impressionnés par ma victoire, car ils ont tous été battus à plate couture, et nous avons perdu quatre matchs contre un.

La nuit n’était toutefois pas finie. Mon ami Matt m’a appelé et m’a demandé de le rejoindre pour la balade 999 à Salt Lake City. Alors, je suis allé faire du vélo avec plus de 100 personnes dans les rues de Salt Lake City par une belle nuit de pleine lune jusqu’à minuit. J’ai parlé également avec un sans-abri pour essayer de l’aider, et j’ai rencontré tout un groupe de personnes intéressantes. La nuit s’est refroidie, mais je me sentais bien tout le temps. Même après mon retour à la maison, j’avais encore beaucoup d’énergie. Merci Wim Hof. Je peux attester par mon expérience personnelle que vos outils fonctionnent !

Cependant, comme pour toute nouvelle information, il est important de la personnaliser. Nous devons expérimenter comme un scientifique, et faire le tri entre ce qui marche et ne marche pas. Nous écoutons nos sensations physiques, nos sentiments et les émotions de notre corps, et nous les utilisons comme un système de guidage interne. Un enseignant tel que Wim Hof peut nous fournir des informations précieuses et nous orienter dans la bonne direction, mais notre progrès repose avant tout sur nous-mêmes. Cela demande de la discipline personnelle, de la curiosité, de l’introspection, de l’intelligence, de la proactivité et de la persistance.

Que voulez-vous expérimenter aujourd’hui pour améliorer la qualité de votre vie ?

Multiplicity and finding one’s way home towards integration

We are a multiplicity of selves

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I was looking to go to the movies recently with a friend, and I noticed that all movie theaters were playing the latest Captain Marvel movie. A reason why this type of movies attracts such big crowds is because most of us have a powerless inner child that we have buried. Super heroes movies are an enjoyable fantasy for our powerless young selves. This is how it works. We come to this plane of existence as a divine child with no limitation, and no negative imprints. But because of our previous karma, our soul may have decided to come into a family and society environment that is challenging (to say the least for some of us). Our soul has not made the decision to punish us because we are bad. It simply wants us to learn love, joy, faith, celebration, compassion or any other higher vibrational states by first experiencing its opposite. Our soul will then select an environment with a negative imprint that we are meant to transform, and our life purpose is typically the opposite vibration of this negative imprint. This is how our inner child finds itself initially in a traumatic environment. From this place of darkness, a new desire is born, and the first split occurs.

Child playing super heroe

As a baby, we are completely dependent on our primary caregivers. If they are not able to meet our physical and emotional needs, there is very little we can do besides crying or being sick to signal them something is not quite right. It is a very powerless state. In order to survive, we need to adapt to our environment and figure out which strategies will help us best meet our needs and feel the love we are desperately starving for. This process is mostly unconscious. It could be crying, developing an ailment, being quiet, being funny, ignoring one’s needs to the benefit of others (common in big families), being angry, becoming the golden child, not bothering the parents and staying alone, and so on, so forth… When we start going to school, the same process occurs but this time with peers and authority figures such as teachers. So by the time we have become adults, we have already created a whole arborescence of different personalities, and aspects of the selves that live within us. They were all born from the same process of desire and splitting. Some of these parts are repressed in the subconscious while others live in the conscious mind.  These parts may or may not be conscious of each other. These parts may be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual in nature. As a result, all of us are a multiplicity of personalities.

For example, one part may decide to wake up at 6 AM the next morning to go to the gym and start shedding these extra pounds. Unfortunately, when the alarm clock rings the next morning, there is another part that just wants to rest and it shuts off the alarm clock. As a result, we stay in bed until 7:30 AM, the time to get to work in a hurry. Or while we are at a conference, we find this girl super attractive and we decide to talk to her. She is talking with other people. As we come closer, another inner part of us jumps in. It tells us we do not have the time, that she is not that attractive after all, that she is busy with other people, that she will not be interested in us anyway, that she is probably with another guy. So we change our mind and we do not talk to her. This part was probably connected with a fragile aspect of us that got hurt through rejection. The list is endless and this is why we have so much difficulty manifesting a life that feels good. Our parts are constantly fighting each other, having contradictory opinions, sabotaging each other. Basically, it just feels like the US congress 🙂

If we had a traumatic childhood, our state of multiplicity and inner division is often a source of intense suffering. We may have repressed angry, desperate, lonely, suicidal, or bitter parts. They may show up uninvited under pressure or with our intimate partner. Because we have not done the work of inner integration, we are like a big overpopulated house where anarchy reigns. The person in that house with the most energy at a given moment takes control, but then may be replaced with someone else with completely different ideas. In that house, everyone is leaving a mess, it is a cacophony where no one can hear each other, where there is little concern for other house members and actions are only taken when survival is at stake. There are some good people there but they feel powerless to get anyone to listen to them.

Mob representing the different aspects within the self

Whether we are aware of this or not, we have the desire for better integration and this playground that we call life is simply a perfect reflection of our inner parts and how they interact with each other. It takes immense bravery to see that all the close people in our life are a perfect mirror of our internal parts. How is that possible? How could this authoritarian boss, this crazy ex wife, these rude teenagers, this friend that just betrayed us be all a part of me? They are everything what we cannot stand, and want to push away because they hurt us. Yes, this is why they represent parts of us that are repressed because they were deemed unacceptable by the conscious mind. But they keep manifesting in our physical reality to torment us because they are desperate to come into the light of awareness too. Our soul always attempts to bring light into darkness, or awareness into unconsciousness so this is why these hidden aspects keep manifesting externally. This is why someone on the spiritual path will look inwardly when s/he is triggered. They know that this is an opportunity to heal by bringing a repressed hurt aspect of their past into the light of consciousness for integration.

The first important thing to realize is that we can work on our own internal parts with the way we treat people. So working with other people to develop more collaborative, loving, harmonious relationships is doing the same internally with our own inner parts. This is one of the big secrets of life. This is why the quality of our life is first the quality of our relationships. Our relationships never lie and act as the most accurate mirror of our internal world. So the more strongly we feel about a person (whether positive or negative), the closer mirror s/he is. People we dislike represent aspects of us that we repress and people we like or admire represent aspects of us that we want to develop. Someone in your acquaintances may attract a lot of attention, but you may be mostly indifferent to him/her. This means that s/he is not presently mirroring you so you are ignoring it because this is not important for your personal growth. People that used to be very important to our life may disappear naturally as we keep changing and evolving. And because we live in an efficient universe, many of our immediate relationships would be typically close mirrors of our inner parts, and the relationships that do not provide this mirroring would eventually fade away from our life.

Osho's quote about relationship mirrors

There are people working in highly hierarchical and even dictatorial organizations. It means they may have one or more internal parts that are tyrannizing the rest of them. Most healers are wounded healers because they are healing their parts by healing other people. You will actually not find a healer without a traumatic childhood. The judges and lawyers are people with many critical parts that they need to constantly punish or save. The engineer thinks that his parts have a problem and needs fixing. The professions we have chosen are a very good indicator of our inner world. When a professional occupation ceases to be interesting, it means that it has stopped to be a good mirror to our inner world. Life is not what it appears to be. Many professions that are seen as successful and well paid are actually reflective of deep inner torment such as judges and lawyers. A doctor that sees sick people all day long is not in a much better place. This statement should not be perceived as a judgment. In order to be happy, we need to feel we are growing and healing and these environments are very rewarding so some people.

Judge

There are often two sides to these professions. From a karmic standpoint, a policeman is often someone who graduated from being a criminal (same as a criminal lawyer), a doctor from being a patient, a psychiatrist from someone with mental health concerns, a spiritual leader from a follower, a victim from being a perpetrator. The soul desires to understand both sides of the perspective. Actually, it is well documented that many of the Nazi officers during WWII developed very serious mental illnesses.  As they followed orders and killed their stated enemies, they were killing aspects of them at the same time. Scholars also speculate that Hitler suffered from schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, syphilis, severe headaches, dizziness, insomnia, monorchism and Parkinson’s disease. So was Hitler the most powerful man on earth in 1941 or the most powerless one?

Let me repeat this very important shortcut for your spiritual growth. By working on external relationships, we work on ourselves. The hardest reflection is often our own children. For example, a conservative and righteous Christian father with a gay son is often indicative of his own homosexual desires that he had to repress earlier on to fit society model. A fearful ex wife doing protective gatekeeping with her children may prevent at all cost any contact between the father and their children. To be a mirror of this situation, the alienated father may have a strong protector personality that may have shut down his own hurt traumatized inner children in order to survive his own childhood. It is interesting to look at the challenges that children are facing, and how this may just be the reflection of aspects that one or both parents may have repressed.

Many people want fame but to become a star, one needs to be or become a reflector. Basically, s/he needs to project a persona that most people can identify with. A famous person is someone that can mirror the parts of millions of people. Ideally, this star is able to mirror a positive potential to inspire people such as Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Roger Federer, the Dalaï Lama or Jackie Chan. But otherwise, one can become just as famous by projecting the repressed darker parts of the collective. Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s political advisor, knew that very well when he said “it’s better to be infamous than never be famous at all. And, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”. Fame, however, is a double-edged sword. If fame does not come as a natural consequence of who you are as a person from your core, then it is easy to get lost in the process of being famous and appealing to the masses. The projections of these millions of people will destroy the famous person who is desperately looking for that attention to have a sense of self. This is the paradox: to be famous and stay mentally healthy at the same time, it is critical to be unattached to fame.

Taylor Swift in concert

From my perspective, kindness is an underrated quality in our society however we all know that being kind and helpful makes us feel better about ourselves even (or especially) when we do not get anything in exchange. Kindness creates safety, trust, and positive relationships within us too. Loving-kindness is therefore one of the most effective approach towards true integration and this is why so many spiritual practices include it. This is the platform on which the most sustainable collective organizations are built. It is also the most effective way to share constructive feedback with someone. If someone feels shamed, judged or criticized, his or her ego will reject the observation as an attempt for self-preservation. However, it is true that kindness needs to be balanced with firmness so that other people or inner parts may not abuse it.

The kindness of children

So if life continues to mirror our inner world to help us grow and heal, what is our ultimate destination?  As we experience life in an introspective way, we learn to recognize what feels the best. What feels the best simply resonates at a higher frequency. We are naturally compelled to look for higher vibrational experiences, emotions & relationships. David Hawkins in Power vs Force made his own hierarchy of emotions and every individual need to feel it, experience it within themselves and build their own graph.

Power vs Force emotions ranking from David Hawkins

Theory without experience is counter-productive. The more wisdom we acquire, the more we are able to affect our reality in a positive way. When we have nothing more to learn from this hologram-based reality, which means when we have integrated all aspects of the self, shadow and light, our spirit graduates to another world or dimension to continue its progression towards oneness because evolution is infinite. Awakening is nothing else than the integration of all of our parts. First by becoming conscious of them and then making them work harmoniously with each other.

An alternative way to understand disease to take control of your health

Running in nature

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The USA is spending 18% of its GDP or $3.5 trillion in health care every year. This is a confirmation that healing is a key concern of our society and most individuals. As we all know, however, our healthcare system is far from being efficient. While I marvel at organ transplants, our ability to get people to survive the worst accidents and treat infectious diseases, healthcare is still predominantly a reflection of our collective vibration of powerlessness and dis-empowerment. Most people are still looking for this magic pill or that omniscient doctor to save them from their misery. The rapid rise of bariatric surgery (procedures performed on people who have obesity) perfectly illustrates this symptom. People would pay over $20,000 to reduce the size of their stomach with a gastric band before even considering changing their diet, following an exercise plan, examining their childhood traumas or changing their lifestyle. This trend is fortunately changing with more and more people taking control of their health, educating themselves with the ample information available on the Internet and looking at alternative medicine, just in case mainstream approaches prove to be ineffective. Modern medicine continues to treat patients’ bodies as a machine independent of their emotional, mental and spiritual aspects, and therein lies its main failure. As a result, they treat symptoms rather than the root cause of the ailment.

I have been exposed to emotional, mental and spiritual healing for the last 26 years, and I have developed many healing modalities that have served me tremendously throughout my life. My healing clients are able to benefit from this experience. We first need to realize that most diseases have an emotional component.

As an example, alternative therapists understand now that:

  • Stomach issues relate to stress related to our environment composed of people and situations that we are not able to “stomach” anymore
  • Constipation indicates our resistance of letting go of past situations, people or ideas often because of guilt.  The primary function of the bowel is to evacuate what is no longer useful to the body and our mindset can affect this function.
  • Back pain is a reflection to a perceived lack of support
  • Knee issues are a resistance to move forward both physically and psychologically
  • Headaches are indicative of over-thinking, over-analysis, judgment towards self and others. It is an attempt of our mind to control everything instead of working in harmony with the other aspects of the self for healing
  • And so on, so forth…
stomach pain

As we live our life, pollution, toxic food, people or environment, strenuous activities, radiation, stressful situations, personal tragedies or even accidents may negatively impact our health. Fortunately, we have everything within us to regenerate and heal ourselves, mostly through sleep, healthy food, positive relationships and environments, and an active lifestyle. Health is a state of balance that we strive towards naturally as we are attuned to ourselves and let go of resistance.

From my perspective, there are 6 major causes to all illnesses that we create from the lighter to the deeper:

  1. Not listening to our physical needs

Most people get a cold when they push their physical body harder though they are already depleted of energy. With experience, one can notice the early signs of exhaustion, the first sensation of a sore throat and give one’s body the needed rest before sickness comes in. Light ailment is usually just a call for a forced and needed rest. In the same way, we may stay in adverse physical environments (polluted, too cold, too hot, too much stimulation) too long and we disregard the signs when our body tells us to get out. At other times, the body needs to move & exercise, to get good comfort food, light healthy food or to fast and refrain from eating. A reason why health and wellness is such a confusing field with every expert saying something different is because there are no rules. We are different, and we need something different at different times. We live in a society that is predominantly ruled by the mental. This aspect of us always tries to be in control by rules & principles that are often disconnected to our physical reality in the present. 

listening to inner voice

2. Not meeting our emotional needs

What is true to our physical body is also true to our emotional self. We stay in toxic relationships or toxic work situations where we swim in harmful negative emotions. It is then just a matter of time that this emotional corrosion will eventually manifest physically. We have the fundamental needs to love and to be loved, to feel worthy, to feel safe, to belong, to be creative and to grow. If we feel continuously deprived of these core emotional needs, we will develop psychosomatic diseases. Depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, sexual dysfunction, stress disorders, and insomnia are some examples of the many unfortunate psychological disorders we may develop as a result.2. Repressed emotions

3. Repressed emotions

Life is movement, and emotions are powerful energies circulating in the body. When emotions are unable to move anymore, and cannot find an outlet, they may become poisonous. Every family or work environment has a set of emotions that are unacceptable to express whether it is anger, sadness, fear but also even excitement or joy. In order to be loved and accepted, we therefore repress these emotions. The organ corresponding to the emotion will then get impacted. Chinese medicine is well aware of this fact. For example; repressed anger will create liver imbalance, repressed sadness will affect the lungs, repressed fear will disrupt the kidneys and repressed joy will create heart issues.

Repressed emotions

4. Poor beliefs about self

We are all familiar with the power of belief and that mind creates reality. Negative core beliefs about the self will create lower-vibration emotions that will eventually take a toll on our physical health. The challenge that we face is that most of our negative self-concept is subconscious, as our ego desperately attempts to hide our dark side from the conscious mind. This is why it takes bravery and introspection for this type of inner work. The most common beliefs I have encountered in my practice are “I am unlovable”, “I am bad/evil/dark”, “I am dangerous” or “I am stupid”.

5. Unhealed past traumas

When our conscious mind is unable to deal with a traumatic situation, it automatically shuts down. Dissociation is a survival mechanism that we have used for millions of years. Unfortunately, we do not fully escape the trauma when we dissociate but a fragmentation of the self occurs. The traumatized aspects get buried deep into the subconscious so that our conscious self can go on with life. Some of the buried emotions are highly toxic without counting the tremendous energy required to keep these traumatic events to come back to the surface. The body will keep fighting subconsciously the traumatic events of the past. For example, I have seen women victim of incest or rape as a child, becoming obese, having adverse skin reactions or become overly masculine depending on the degree that they feel their beauty or femininity got them into trouble. Modern medicine is powerless towards these disorders as there is no pill that exists to heal a past traumatic event.

6. Obsolete coping mechanisms

As we go through challenging life situations, we develop coping strategies. For example, we may have developed inner walls or shut down emotionally to deal with a traumatic childhood. These coping strategies may have helped us survive a very abusive childhood environment but it is easy to see how it may isolate us in our adult life. On the same token, we may have developed an addiction (ex. smoking, drinking, drugs, pornography, gambling, video games, social media, being a workaholic etc…) every time we come close to a dreadful emotion. The addiction, which is actually a coping strategy, will eventually have a negative effect on our health. Another common coping mechanism is to numb our senses and in this case, hearing or seeing dysfunctions may follow. Our body always has our best interest in mind so there is always a positive intention in the disease itself. An autoimmune disease attempts to eliminate poisonous or discordant aspects of the self not understanding that by doing so, it is destroying us by the same token. The same is true for cancer. An obese person is creating extra layers of fat to feel protected against a dangerous environment when it feels so hard to keep any boundaries. We react to a perceived threat through freeze, fight, flight or fawn. We may repeat the same strategy over and over again independently of the environment. For example, an overuse of the freeze strategy may result in Bell’s palsy.

Meditation

This is why so many research studies have shown that meditation can have such a positive impact on our health. Most disease are created and spread because we are not attuned to our emotions, feelings or body sensations. Meditation is the practice to look inward to explore our feelings, emotions, thoughts and physical sensations. We are always receiving new impressions and we are always shifting as a result. Our modern life is unfortunately not tailored to this inner listening. It praises instead the tyranny of the mind over body and emotions. Eventually, the body revolts or crashes.

Though it may not simple at first, there are ways to reverse this process through the conscious listening of our inner world. All emotions, even negative emotions, are our friends. There are here to move the energy around and restore a state of balance. This is why healthy kids go through so many emotions in a single day, from laughing, to crying, being playful or feeling cranky. If you have suffered loss, the emotions of despair, anger and sadness will help you heal. If your boundaries are violated, the positive side of anger will direct you to take action to ensure your safety. Simply learn to create a safe container to express all emotions during your meditation with full awareness. The state of inner alignment is the most conducive to physical and emotional health, and your feelings will point you in the right direction.

Wim Hof in the Himalayas

I have not been sick for over a year, and I have not had a discomfort that lasted for more than a couple of hours while 2018 has been a very challenging year marked by personal tragedy. I can tell you from my personal experience that one can heal from everything. I have some simple principles that have been critical to my healing and well being that I have listed below. 

  1. Meditation is my refuge. I meditate frequently, ideally every morning, to check-in and create a day according to my values, inspiration and feelings of the moment. But at the very least, I meditate as soon as I do not feel quite right
  2. I am committed to become aware and express all my emotions. I am careful to create a non judgmental safe container for these emotions. Authenticity is the courage to see my feelings for what they are without judgment. It is the commitment to my personal truth independently of the consequences
  3. When required, and when inner listening of my feelings and emotions is not enough, I commit to follow through with actions. This could be calling a friend you have not heard from for a while, or going on a run if my body feels sluggish.
  4. I commit to self care through a healthy emotional environment, a healthy lifestyle, to rest when I am tired and to strive to meet my authentic physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs
  5. I trust my body in guiding me in what I can eat and drink. Sometimes, this may be fruits, avoiding alcohol, vegetable or comfort food.
  6. I strive to live a conscious life, be positive and act as the best version of myself. But when I do not feel well, I do not bulldoze myself but commit to shadow work to use this opportunity to integrate unhealed aspects of myself. Shadow work means being present and exploring the negative emotion to elicit answers about the healing or actions that need to take place.
  7. I stretch myself positively with compelling goals but never to the point of breaking
  8. I believe in balance. Balance of physical, mental, social and spiritual activities. Balance of activity and rest. Balance of work and fun. Balance of solitude and together time. Balance in taking care of self and others. Balance of order and chaos. When done right, balance results naturally in a sense of peace and well-being.
Vaillant skiing in Utah

There is nothing more important than health because when we lose it, nothing else matters. We take it for granted and impact it negatively through many small actions every day by not paying attention. But worse, we live in a state of dis-empowerment regarding our health as we were led to believe that our health is dependent on external factors such as germs, genes, pollution or bad luck. It is time for us to take responsibility for our health, build a strong immune system to live a truly fulfilling life.

Integrating the three aspects of the self

Švenčiausioji_Trejybė

This blog is published in The Mindful Word

https://www.themindfulword.org/2018/aspects-of-the-self/

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Article translated in French below

Intégrer les trois aspects du soi pour s’éveiller

Les cercles de développement personnel et spirituel parlent souvent des concepts du Moi supérieur (ou l’âme), de l’enfant intérieur et du besoin d’une personnalité positive, introspective, reliée aux réalités de la vie matérielle et efficace. La plupart des ouvrages de développement personnel abordent un seul aspect, rarement deux à la fois et presque jamais les trois. Si quelqu’un me demande ce qu’est l’éveil spirituel, je réponds simplement « Vivre le paradis sur terre », c’est-à-dire la capacité à fonctionner dans cette dimension physique selon des principes spirituels élevés. De manière pratique, nous avons en nous trois aspects principaux et très différents : 1. l’adulte, 2. l’enfant et 3. l’âme, et les trois doivent coexister en harmonie afin que nous puissions être véritablement intégrés et devenir ce que nous appelons un être éveillé. Le développement d’un aspect sans les autres est en réalité un danger pour soi et pour les autres.

L’adulte ou adulte intérieur n’est rien d’autre que notre personnalité. Notre personnalité s’est construite selon notre éducation familiale, notre culture, notre éducation et notre environnement. En conséquence, elle est pleine de concepts erronés, de perspectives limitées, d’idées fausses et de contradictions. Par l’introspection, l’étude des grands sages, l’application des leçons précieuses tirées de notre expérience, la pensée positive et consciente, nous pouvons peu à peu améliorer notre personnalité pour mieux soutenir notre vie et celle des autres qui nous entourent. Beaucoup de livres sont consacrés à nous aider à développer une personnalité plus efficace afin que nous puissions avoir plus de succès dans la vie, qu’il s’agisse de gagner plus d’argent, d’améliorer notre relation de couple ou d’être plus heureux. Un adulte mûr a une pensée claire, répond aux situations de la vie de manière réfléchie, projette des valeurs positives et comprend les étapes nécessaires pour atteindre ses buts. Il sait aussi comment se protéger et protéger les autres. Il est capable de tirer parti de ses précieuses expériences de vie pour améliorer la qualité de vie de tous ceux qui l’entourent.

L’enfant intérieur est un concept plus récent. Bien que Carl Jung soit à l’origine du concept dans son archétype de l’enfant divin, John Bradshaw est en réalité celui qui a popularisé le travail sur l’enfant intérieur auprès du grand public dans les années 1980 grâce à ses best-sellers et à ses apparitions aux côtés d’Oprah. Tous les professionnels de la santé mentale sont maintenant familiers avec le concept de l’enfant intérieur. L’enfant intérieur correspond à notre essence et au noyau de ce que nous sommes. C’est un aspect hyper sensible, complètement ouvert et la source de notre créativité, de notre spontanéité et de notre joie intérieure. Quand nous grandissons dans ce monde difficile avec des parents imparfaits, notre enfant intérieur (ou nos enfants intérieurs) est victime de traumatismes. Ceux-ci vont engendrer une faible estime de soi, une pauvre image corporelle, des déséquilibres affectifs, l’auto-flagellation, des masques bloquants, des problèmes d’identité, d’intimité et d’engagement, des dépendances, etc. Le travail sur l’enfant intérieur a pour objectif de renouer avec cet aspect subconscient du soi, de revivre consciemment les émotions refoulées afin que nous puissions aider notre enfant intérieur à poursuivre son développement.

L’âme est notre moi transcendantal. Celui-ci est déjà parfait, pleinement développé et connecté à l’ensemble de l’existence. Le moi supérieur est au-dessus du cycle de la naissance et de la mort. C’est la conscience elle-même. Grâce à cela, nous pouvons faire l’expérience de la conscience de Dieu. Qui mieux que Rumi, le mystique soufi du XIIIe siècle, pour nous décrire le moi supérieur ? « Ces formes que nous sommes sont comme des tasses flottant dans un océan de conscience vivante. Elles se remplissent et coulent sans laisser de traces. Ce que nous sommes, c’est cet océan, mais nous sommes trop proches pour le voir, même si nous y nageons et le buvons. Ne soyez pas une tasse avec un rebord sec, ou quelqu’un qui chevauche toute la nuit et ne connaît jamais le cheval entre ses cuisses. » Nous ne travaillons pas sur l’âme, il s’agit simplement d’élever notre conscience et de nous rappeler qui nous sommes en tant qu’âme. L’âme est indestructible et ne peut être blessée, car elle est cet amour infini.

Permettez-moi d’illustrer l’évolution de ces trois aspects à travers mon expérience personnelle. Quand j’étais enfant, j’ai subi une série de traumatismes qui m’ont conduit à une dépression profonde et à une forte anxiété à l’âge de treize ans. Ma personnalité adolescente cherchait des possibilités de sortir de mon enfer émotionnel. Bien que les progrès aient été lents à cet âge, j’ai développé petit à petit des concepts et des idées pour rendre mon existence plus supportable. Mes progrès touchaient uniquement le niveau de la personnalité (ou mon moi adulte). Je suis devenu adulte trop rapidement et j’ai géré ma douleur affective en devenant le meilleur élève possible à l’école. Je manquais de spontanéité, j’étais très sérieux et me sentais comme un vieil homme à l’intérieur. À dix-neuf ans, j’ai passé tout l’été aux États-Unis, ce qui a élargi mes horizons. Je suis tombée amoureux d’une fille à mon retour à l’université, et une rupture douloureuse trois mois plus tard a ouvert ma conscience. L’intensité de la douleur émotionnelle m’a fait vivre pour la première fois un état de conscience mystique où je me suis senti extatique. Soudain, je me suis rendu compte que la vie était bien plus grande que le monde visible. Je me suis lancé dans une quête spirituelle et suis devenu obsédé par cet éveil dont parlent les grandes philosophies et religions. Pendant les sept années suivantes, sans le comprendre consciemment, j’étais à la recherche de mon moi supérieur que je n’avais ressenti que pendant quelques instants. En tant que chercheur spirituel, je suis tombé dans un premier piège, et j’ai rejoint une secte. Les sectes sont des organisations toxiques, qui se positionnent comme des intermédiaires dans notre relation à Dieu afin de nous exploiter. Après en être sorti trois ans plus tard, et après avoir pris le temps de me déprogrammer, j’ai poursuivi mes efforts pour m’éveiller. Cela a porté ses fruits et quand j’ai eu vingt-six ans, j’ai vécu un état de conscience où j’ai vécu un état extatique ou le pur amour pendant plus de vingt-quatre heures. Cela a ouvert une porte où j’ai pu retourner consciemment à cet état avec une discipline de vie spécifique. Tandis que j’éprouvais des états de conscience extatiques, je me suis rendu compte que j’étais devenu un junky spirituel et que ma vie ne reflétait pas extérieurement les états de conscience extraordinaires que j’éprouvais intérieurement. J’ai commencé à me sentir seul et j’ai concentré mon attention sur la manifestation physique. Sans le savoir, j’avais changé la focalisation de mon travail intérieur de mon âme à ma personnalité. Pour faire mûrir cet adulte intérieur, je me suis inspiré de gourous de du développement personnel tels qu’Antony Robbins, Wayne Dyer ou Brian Tracy. Je me suis marié avec une PAJ (princesse américaine juive), et j’ai fondé une famille. Je me suis concentré sur ma carrière pour réussir ma vie. Je suis devenu un entrepreneur prospère dans la Silicon Valley et le vice-consul honoraire de Monaco.

J’étais un lecteur assidu avec toujours pour but de m’améliorer. Mon succès professionnel était un mécanisme d’adaptation à ma douleur émotionnelle que j’avais continué à enfouir, et qui se manifestait à travers une relation tumultueuse avec ma femme. Quand j’ai eu trente-cinq ans, je n’ai plus réussi à contenir ces émotions sous-jacentes. Je suis entré en thérapie à ce moment-là et ai commencé à renouer avec mon moi transcendental, car j’avais constamment le sentiment que quelque chose me manquait. Je suis devenu un grand fan d’enseignants de non-dualité tels qu’Eckart Tolle, Adyashanti, Krishnamurti ou David Deida. Quand j’ai eu trente-huit ans, la grâce est venue au travers d’un événement inattendu. J’ai eu une commotion cérébrale à la suite d’un accident de ski, qui m’a recâblé le cerveau. Après avoir récupéré de l’accident, je pouvais méditer sans effort et le sentiment qu’il me manquait quelque chose a alors disparu. Je suis devenu beaucoup plus intuitif et me suis toujours senti guidé dans mes actions. À ce moment-là, j’avais fait un énorme travail pour développer une personnalité consciente afin de soutenir ma vie et ouvrir le chemin intérieur à mon âme. Cependant, jusqu’à ce moment-là, je n’avais fait que très peu de travail sur mon enfant intérieur (je n’étais pas au courant du concept à l’époque) et l’écart s’accentuait entre cet enfant intérieur sous-développé et brisé et le reste de mon être. J’ai connu une crise de milieu de vie et ai attiré une partenaire encore plus déséquilibrée que moi-même. Elle était un canal clair pour son moi supérieur, détenait la connaissance spirituelle la plus remarquable, mais toute sa vie était en réalité contrôlée et rendue misérable par les traumatismes de son enfance qu’elle se sentait impuissante à guérir. À cause de ses dons spirituels, elle pouvait voir à travers moi, et je ne pouvais plus cacher mes enfants intérieurs blessés. J’avais tellement réprimé la douleur de mon enfance pour atteindre le succès matériel et spirituel que mes enfants intérieurs perdus se sont manifestés sous la forme de l’aliénation parentale de mes enfants réels. Tout au long de ma vie, j’ai fait face à de nombreux défis, mais aucun n’était comparable à la brutalité de cette expérience. Mon dernier mariage s’est également effondré quelques temps après. Cette année passée a été difficile, mais riche en apprentissage. Elle m’a permis de réintégrer mon enfant intérieur avec ma personnalité d’adulte et mon moi transcendantal. Maintenant, lorsque mon enfant a mal, je m’assieds en méditation avec la douleur. Mon adulte et mon âme le rejoignent, lui prennent la main et l’aident à guérir. J’ai arrêté de le brimer et de le faire taire comme je l’avais fait pratiquement toute ma vie. Qu’il s’agisse de solitude, de trahison, de dépression, de colère, de jalousie, de suspicion, de méfiance ou de tristesse, je reste assis avec lui sans jugement. Avec suffisamment de patience, mon enfant intérieur est en train de se reconstruire lentement grâce à la confiance en mon adulte intérieur et à la sagesse et la présence de mon âme. En fait, je n’ai pas découvert un seul enfant intérieur, mais plusieurs, qui ont entre deux et onze ans. Il est clair que cet aspect de moi est encore un peu en retard par rapport à ma personnalité et à ma connexion avec mon moi transcendantal. C’est donc sur cet aspect que je me concentre afin d’atteindre mon plein potentiel, et ainsi finir par me reconnecter à mes enfants réels.

J’espère qu’en partageant  mon expérience personnelle, j’aurai réussi à illustrer l’importance de rester équilibré avec ces trois axes de travail tout au long de notre cheminement spirituel. Je pense intuitivement que Wayne Dyer aurait pu faire face à un déséquilibre similaire. C’était un professeur remarquable, doté d’une personnalité très intelligente et d’une profonde compréhension de l’âme. Sa troisième épouse, Marcelene, mère de cinq de ses enfants, a divorcé après vingt ans de mariage, et il est décédé plus tard d’une leucémie, révélatrice d’un traumatisme infantile non guéri (Wayne était un enfant de l’assistance publique). De la même manière, Jerry Hicks, l’auteur inspiré de la loi de l’attraction avec sa sixième femme Esther, est décédé d’un cancer.

Les individus qui font l’expérience de leurs aspects transcendantaux sans faire le travail nécessaire sur leur personnalité pour développer l’objectivité et l’intégrité nécessaires, peuvent facilement devenir des leaders de sectes. Leurs traumatismes non guéris génèrent alors des fausses croyances et des illusions.

Les Amérindiens ont souvent un lien authentique avec le divin et ont un enfant intérieur en bonne santé. Malheureusement, le manque de développement de leur personnalité fait cependant d’eux une cible facile pour l’exploitation, les abus ou la dépendance.

Les personnes ayant une personnalité très développée, mais peu connectées à leur âme peuvent avoir beaucoup de succès, voire faire des choses magnifiques dans la vie, si elles ont un enfant intérieur en bonne santé, mais il y aura peu d’incitation à aider les gens en dehors de leur famille proche. Celles dont l’enfant intérieur est traumatisé seront souvent autocratiques avec le désir d’exploiter leur prochain.

Ces trois dimensions sont faciles à voir chez les êtres éveillés. Par exemple, le Dalaï Lama agit souvent comme un petit enfant qui adore s’amuser ou plaisanter, mais peut exprimer des concepts complexes à partir de sa personnalité sans jamais perdre de vue sa nature transcendantale. Il peut basculer entre ces aspects à volonté en fonction de ce qui est requis dans le moment présent. Une personnalité développée peut comprendre et connaître Dieu, cependant seul l’enfant en bonne santé en nous peut en faire directement l’expérience en tant qu’amour, unité et créativité. C’est pourquoi on dit souvent que le cœur (auquel l’enfant intérieur a un accès direct) est le siège de l’âme. Ayant développé cette trinité en nous, nous pouvons maintenant regarder les étoiles avec les pieds solidement plantés dans le sol et créer le paradis sur terre.