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 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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.