Part IX – Transcendental mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms

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

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  • Meditation 

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

  • Shadow work

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

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

  • Disciplined thinking

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

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

  • Presence

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

  • Fasting

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

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

Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VII – Interpersonal mature coping mechanisms

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

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  • Introspection
Introspection

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

  • Acceptance
Acceptance

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

  • Letting go
Letting go

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

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

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

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

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

  • Meaning
Meaning-centered therapy. Logotherapy. Viktor Frankl

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

Part VII: Interpersonal mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VI – Immature ego-based coping mechanisms

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

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  • Undoing
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 pay for any trip he takes with his children. During his custody time, he often drops his children with his parents as he indulges in parties, drugs and girls. John does not provide the structure and the stability that his children need, and his erratic behavior exposes them to unnecessary harm. John’s parents feel guilty towards their son as they are workaholics and were never present emotionally with him when he was a child. They do not realize their financial support is enabling their son’s bad behaviors and is preventing him from taking responsibility for his life. Along the same line, if we give a gift to our wife every time we hurt her, she may start hating our gifts as they will be associated with pain.  The donation of the state of Israel has been responsible for 75 years of war in the Middle East. While Jerusalem holds special significance, the Jews may have been provided with a territory that could have caused much less conflict and allowed them to thrive economically while living in peace. In the state of Utah which is mostly a desert, the Mormons represent 70% of the population. They are now the richest cult in the world and they are remarkably integrated. The Jews would have probably enjoyed an even higher prosperity and peace if they had been granted a territory that was not already populated. Undoing is useful but it is important to reflect if the repairing action will yield the positive results that we intended.

  • Compartmentalization
Compartmentalization

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

  • Conscious emotional release
Conscious emotional release - public punching bag

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

  • Altruism and compassion
Dalai Lama compassion for a child

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

  • Humor
Amber Dawn Lee stand-up comedy

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

  • Sublimation
sublimation of suffering

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

  • Asking for support
Asking for support

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

  • Humility
Humility quote

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

Read Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms