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.
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 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.
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.
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
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 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 is a manipulation tactic where one person will have a separate and often opposite discourse with two different persons, antagonizing them against each other for their own benefit often by exploiting each person’s vulnerability. It is a strategy frequently used by narcissists but also by codependents. Triangulation is used widely because it is extremely effective to influence people for our selfish needs. If someone does something to upset us, we are likely to speak badly about them to others, amplifying facts or even making plain lies to turn people against them so as to get revenge on them. In case of parental alienation, the alienating parent triangulates their own children against the other parent. It is a form of parenticide that is criminal and causes severe psychological damage to the children. As a coach, I am often put in a position with risk of triangulation while helping a couple for instance. It is my responsibility to be equally supportive and tough on each person and not take sides. As long as they are in a committed relationship, my responsibility resides primarily in helping them both to heal their partnership so that they may get closer. If we are not triangulating then we should feel comfortable telling someone face-to-face what we are saying about them to an acquaintance behind their back. If we do not pass this test, it means we are manipulating. Playing politics is based on triangulation and is a cancer to any organization. I used to have a borderline girlfriend with the habit of demonizing her past partners. She told me some very alarming things about her ex, and I immediately came to her rescue as I did not question what she was telling me about him. A couple of years later, after we separated, she used her new husband against me in the exact same fashion. I realized I had been fooled and used as a weapon of war. Every single boyfriend/husband of hers has followed the same pattern.
Self-deprecation, magnification and minimization
There is a category of people who blame themselves systematically always focusing on the things in their life that are not quite right. They would say « I am so stupid/dumb », « I always mess up », « I am a big zero », « I am a jerk ». They were probably raised by people who would devalue them when they were younger. Boastfulness was probably unacceptable in their family home, only humility was. The habit may be so ingrained that they keep belittling themselves even when they live their adult life away from their parents. Self-deprecation is a form of defense mechanism in the sense that people are less likely to say something mean about you if you say it first. Most people would actually try to cheer you up instead which feels good. It is also a way for people to reduce their stress level by lowering expectations about themselves. For this reason, many students would say before an exam that they are going to fail or how badly they performed before receiving their grades. While at the end, they are typically getting good grades. They believe their worth as a person is determined by their grades so they cannot afford to disappoint their peers or parents with poor school performance. This behavior stems from low self-esteem too. I play competitive tennis regularly. Sometimes, I play against opponents who insult themselves every time they miss an easy shot. Competition to them feels like a self-flagellation exercise. Similarly, with magnification and minimization, one of two things happens: the importance of insignificant events—like a mistake—is exaggerated or the importance of something significant, such as a personal achievement, is lessened. In other words, a person’s problems are blown out proportion, while the positive aspects of their life are ignored. I had a romantic partner who was a performer. She knew her craft well and people really enjoyed attending her events. At the end of each performance, she would however always focus on her perceived mistakes and would get very anxious about them. While it is healthy to ponder on what could be improved, this can be done without losing sight of all the positives. She was raised in an environment where mistakes were considered completely unacceptable, and this contributed largely to her high anxiety. Mistakes are however simply part of the process of learning.
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:
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 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.
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.
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!”
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
Building a life together
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.
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.
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.
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.
conscious intimate relationship is the experience of togetherness without
losing oneself in the process. It is the merging of freedom with responsibility
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Part III – Growing and healing together as a couple
For the most part, my last blog on Understanding and Loving the Borderline was well received except on a Facebook group that brings together a vulnerable minority group. My blog triggered them, as they felt stigmatized and shamed. I removed the post from this private group as my intent was to make people feel better not worse, and they were unable to make use of the information. They probably suffered a lot in the hands of a mental health system that often uses labels to prescribe drugs and to scapegoate them instead of providing them with genuine support for healing. Labeling is indeed a dangerous thing. It is fine for people to label themselves as borderline or codependent as a tool for self-observation, but we should refrain from labeling other people this way, as it would just trigger their shame. Shame and self-awareness are incompatible states. This is why, once our shame is triggered, any positive change towards our authentic healthy self becomes impossible. We become frozen and what can happen instead is more fragmentation, meaning that we would build a false self in order not to experience this feeling of shame again. This is actually the process of how false cult personalities are created, and how the false “good guys” personalities are built with codependents. The borderline is however unable to cope and goes into rage. I sincerely do not know which is healthier. Every tool can be used for empowerment or to hurt people. It is up to each one of us to use this information wisely.
We mirror each other’s disowned self
As I was doing inner work, I remember when I first met my “inner borderline”. We call this process voice dialog or parts work. I display externally little of the BPD characteristics. As I mentioned previously, I have been struggling instead with codependency in my intimate relationships. This makes sense as we manifest externally what is deeply repressed in us. This is how attraction works. As a child, the borderline aspects of my mum and stepmom terrified me but I had to bond with them for my emotional survival. I had made the depression of one and the anger of the other one unacceptable emotions. I created these parts internally to mirror them but buried them deep within my psyche out of fear and in a subconscious attempt to feel safe. I could not have been a magnet for PBPD partners all of my life unless there was a part in me to reflect them. So if a codependent is in a relationship with a PBPD, we need to remember that the borderline is the repressed aspect of the codependent, and vice versa. There is futility in blaming our partner because they are you, both representing the positive and negative aspects of you that you have disowned. The most extreme form of internalizing the people we feel traumatized from, and that we feel dependent on for our survival is well documented as the Stockholm syndrome. An example was the adoration of Nazi concentration camp SS physician Josef Mengele by his victims. Josef Mengele performed the most horrific deadly human experiments on prisoners and in particular on children twins. I recommend a quick read on other famous cases of the Stockholm syndrome. Here is how it works. When a traumatic event occurs that we are not able to process consciously, we fragment. This means that aspects of our consciousness leave our body to find escape somewhere else. In very powerless situations, these fragmented selves actually find refuge in the abuser as it feels it is the safest place to hide. As a result, we create deeply repressed internal parts of the very same persons that traumatized us. We cannot acknowledge these aspects consciously as otherwise we would live in a constant state of anxiety so they manifest externally in particular in the form of romantic & intimate relationships. We have a tendency to fall in love with people showing the same dysfunctional aspects of our parent of the opposite gender. This is why women raised with an emotionally unavailable father would attract the same in their partners. And this is why I have been with PBPD most of my life. I am not a victim. They are simply mirroring the aspects of me that I have repressed. They are helping me to become conscious. In the same way, all the PBPD I have been with had a codependent father that I was mirroring back for them. It may be depressing news but most of us are simply trying to earn back the love we did not receive as a child (from our parents). We are actually replaying the traumas and the stories of the past instead of actually truly connecting with our partners. There is only one way out, which is bringing these lost aspects of ourselves back to the light of consciousness. Seeing these parts, accepting them, loving them and ultimately forgiving oneself for reenacting this drama subconsciously are the steps to recovery.
In the process of integration, I have found it a helpful tool to see myself as the composite of my (hurt) inner child, my adult and my transcendental self. The codependent identifies with his adult self, while the PBPD identifies with her hurt inner child. The borderline feels too much while the codependent is hardly in touch with his feelings. For a healthy development of the individual, we need a balance between these two aspects. The inner child gives us our spontaneity, our creativity, our joie de vivre, access to more subtle aspects to our being. The adult self keeps us out of trouble, has wisdom to draw from, and helps us function in this physical reality. A genuine partnership between our child and adult has to be formed to restart an inner development that likely stopped during an early traumatic event. We do not want an overbearing internal adult (codependent) or tyrannical and out-of-control inner child (BPD). Life has its way of recreating balance. This is why children of PBPD get parentified, and why codependents are irresistibly attracted to PBPD. If you able to create a healthy balance of these aspects within yourself, the universe will also mirror it externally with a more stable partner. How does this work in practice?
When you feel uneasy and stuck, do shadow work to bring these aspects of you into awareness. Do not bulldoze your inner child into performing other activities that may appear more important to the inner adult. I understand that life has constraints so if you cannot attend right away to the inner child (which is the ideal), commit to schedule this inner work within 24 hours.
Follow personal inspiration, creativity and your inner joy whenever you can. Look for simple ways to feel genuinely happy
Stay aware of the consequences of your actions. Spontaneity does not have to equate with recklessness
Temper your internal fears with the wisdom from your personal experience
Know your limits, and assess your personal boundaries wisely. Follow-through, be responsible but not at the expense of your authentic self.
Try to visualize some of the healthiest parent/child relationships you have witnessed in your life. This is what you need to create internally. The inner child is the seat of the soul. The bible says “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. But the child needs to develop to become this clear channel to the higher self. And he needs a wise, compassionate and supporting inner parent to grow-up. As we enter the spiritual path, many of us will find a hurt inner child whose development stopped at a very early age. We need to take this traumatized child where he is, without judgment and patiently re-parent ourselves. Another way to look at it is to see our inner child as our essence and our adult as our personality. When these two aspects of us start working in harmony, we can consciously access the more transcendental aspects of our beings.
To get out of codependent relationships, we need to realize that “People in the relationship are more important than the relationship”. This sentence goes against many of our social bias. Miserable married people are often advised to stay together even when they have become toxic to each other. I understand that any intimate relationship will go through their ups and down and I am not advocating to breakup as soon as there is a bump in the road. Sometimes we struggle with the relationship but we deeply care about our partner and we feel this is helping us become a better version of ourselves. This is a situation where we need to fight for the relationship because it is supporting us as an individual. Actually, as we are able to successfully survive these difficult times, the relationship will then reach a much higher intimacy. There are other situations however when the marriage brings both pain and the loss of self. These are times to get out. Staying in a miserable marriage for the sake of the children does not make sense; they are well aware of the conflicts and this is damaging to them. We want to be models that they do not have to compromise their personal happiness to be in an intimate relationship. Putting the self above the relationship is a very scary and risky choice for the codependent. We probably entered the relationship pretending we were someone we are not because of our personal shame. Our partner may feel betrayed, duped or threatened as we reveal the real us. We may be rejected, abandoned as a result, and if your partner is narcissistic, they will surely do this and also discredit you to any common acquaintances. This is a very painful experience but a price worth paying to recover your authentic self. In any case, we need to remember that any other option is futile. What makes us attractive and sexy is our individuality; not being an accessory to someone else. As we compromise ourselves to fit into the relationship box dictated by our nascissistic partner, we will stop our attractiveness and our mate will abandon us anyway. We need to remember that it is better to be alone than being in the wrong company. We can remind ourselves that we survived brutal breakups in the past, and ended in a better place once the grieving was done. As we feel depressed by the loss of the relationship and see no end to our personal misery, we can bring King Solomon’s wisdom: “This too shall pass”. Actually, when we look back at the most difficult times of our life, we can see retrospectively that these were the times we did the most growth, and created the foundations of our future happiness. Life is a series of steep climbs and flat plateaus, then further climbs. Being in a relationship should always be a free choice. This is the only way to experience a true heart-to-heart connection to our partner. While there are external forms of coercion such as the threat of personal injury, losing one’s children or litigation when attempting to leave a relationship, these are quite rare and extreme. What is more insidious and common is the coercion coming from our own personal fears. Here are some examples.
If I leave her/him, if s/he breaks up with me:
I will have to compromise my personal lifestyle, take care of my personal finances and probably lose financial security
I will be alone which I cannot handle
I will have to be back on the dating scene, which I detest
I will lose face with my family, friends and community
I will have to go back to work
I will have to move
I will not have sex anymore
I will not handle seeing my ex with a new partner
I will have to take care of the children on my own which I feel incapable of doing
I will die because I cannot handle another breakup
I will not handle the guilt of hurting my children
I will have to start cooking and do my own laundry
I will lose all of our joint friends
I will have no one to protect me
I will have no one to take care of me if I am sick
I will lose the relationship with my children
I will lose the relationship with my in-laws
Can you see these are all wrong reasons to stay with someone? It makes the person a means to an end and this will destroy your intimacy. The times for selecting our partner for survival reasons are well over. In this day and age, intimate relationships are primarily for emotional nurturing, experiencing love, feeling seen, felt and understood, personal growth and enjoyment. If you are just looking for transactional relationships, you can simply use service providers as our world can offer any possible service imaginable in exchange for money. This is why it is so important to develop personal autonomy in our life as this allows our closed ones to be with us because they want to be there and not because they have to. We can move from the conditionality of love of the sacral chakra with all its cords, control drama and power struggles to the unconditional and pure love of the heart chakra. Of course, we should not take the goal of personal autonomy to the extreme to the point of being afraid of asking for support from others. The key is never to put yourself in a state of dependency that may lead you to compromise your personal integrity or stop honoring your personal boundaries. When your personal situation does not allow for this right away, just make a goal to create this personal autonomy in the future and make it a priority. Authenticity cannot strive in a controlled environment because the price to pay for your personal truth would be too high. Also, when we are incapable of taking care of ourselves, we will create expectations in our union, which in turn will create tension. This is not a conducive environment for love to flow. If you want a clean house and both you and your partner dislike cleaning, best is to hire a cleaning lady. If you are in need of physical affection but your partner is drained, go get a therapeutic massage. As a codependent, authenticity can be daunting as we are so afraid to lose everything once we find ourselves, and start sharing our authenticity with the world. It is true that the world reacts often very brutally to codependents finally standing in their truth. If you express your authentic self to your partner in a vulnerable way but s/he is not able to carve a place for your authentic self, it is best to let go. Our authentic self is our most treasured possession and without it, there cannot be the possibility of a joyful and happy life. I had given everything to my relationship but once I stood in my authenticity, the relationship did not survive. It took courage and it was incredibly painful but as a result, I received the ultimate gift of living an authentic life and stepping out of codependency. It was all well worth it.
Loneliness is one of the most painful feelings to experience consciously. We understand conceptually that we are one and connected to everything that is alive. I remember reading Radical Forgiveness years ago from Colin Tipping, and I had an epiphany when the author stated that our experience on earth is first about experiencing the illusion of separateness. Separateness is an enduring illusion because our physical body is separate from other beings. We are one with our mother then separate from her at birth to create an individual experience. We go through the process of death and many other painful experiences alone. We cannot go through life without feeling rejected, abandoned or criticized at times. In my personal experience, there is actually no biggest suffering than losing the connection to our creator. Even Jesus doubted on the cross if God had abandoned him “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Many of us with attachment traumas are suffering from profound loneliness and we become vulnerable to a variety of addictions as a result. There is a compulsory need to fill this void at any cost. This feeling of emptiness is actually caused by our internal fragmentation as we have lost many aspects of ourselves through the traumatic events of our upbringing. Filling this void with people or various addictions can only give us a temporary relief, and this is what codependents and borderlines attempt to do. It is like the person who lost his way in the forest who gets relief by meeting someone else only to realize this person is lost too. This may bring some temporary comfort however the two people are still lost. From my perspective, this form of pathological loneliness can only be healed in two steps. First, we need to feel consciously our deep and profound loneliness without trying to escape it. This is best done in a meditation setting where we create an internal container for the painful emotion with no judgment, letting our internal torment and fears run their course. From this place, if we are patient enough, eventually grace will come in and we will remember somatically our divine nature and recover our connection with God. As we realign with our soul and our sense of purpose, we can feel complete. We may still feel lonely at times as we go through phases when we do not have special people in our life to reflect our wholeness. However these phases are temporary and they do not destabilize us because we feel the security of our connection with our higher self that is connected with everything. Overtime, we learn to be alone without feeling lonely and aloneness becomes even a means to strengthen our connection to the divine. Our deep longing for an intimate connection becomes more a thirst to reflect our divine nature than to fill an endless void. Our divine nature is love, giving and receiving love. Is there anything better in the world than intimate relationships to experience it?
Stepping out of the drama triangle victim/persecutor/rescuer
The PBPD is addicted to the victim role. She feels so unworthy and hopeless that she believes she can only get attention through pity and other form of victim control drama. The codependent is addicted with the rescuer role. He feels so unworthy that he feels he has no value unless he fulfills a specific role or does something for someone. To break this negative cycle, the codependent needs to apologize to the PBPD for putting her in a state of dependency, disempowering her and not creating the conditions where she could solve her own problems. Without bypassing her pain, the PBPD needs to find the strength to find the hidden treasure that came from her abuse, to realize that her persecutor is just another victim like her and eventually forgive her abuser and herself for creating this painful experience at a soul level. The Hawaiian prayer Ho’oponopono “I am sorry – Please forgive me – Thank you – I love you” is another powerful way to break out of the dysfunctional roles of the drama triangle and undo the false narration. But please remember to do this prayer from the adult or soul perspective but never from the hurt inner child as this could be very damaging.
Transition plan as we rewire our brain for real love
Because of his unhealthy childhood environment, the codependent actually got addicted to constant drama. He thrives with chaos, conflict and dangerous situations as this gives him the opportunity to prove his self-worth by rescuing. Drama is actually associated with love in his brain. Because it takes time to rewire a brain and examine all false beliefs, I recommend the recovering codependent to engage in more productive activities where he could experience the same adrenaline rush. He can start a more risky professional activity (reward and risk often go together), or enjoy extreme sports. On the other end, the borderline is addicted to emotionally abusive situations so that they can get attention through victimhood. Abuse equal love in her brain. One of my partners had suffered in a horrific way in the hands of one of an extremely disturbing violent cult. The abuser of her childhood pretended to be her dad but was also sexual with her. As we can expect, her intimate relationships were very unstable as a result. She would start all of her relationships idealizing her partner but then would slowly start seeing her companion through the filter of her childhood abuse. She would then replay the escape of her childhood nightmare by orchestrating the end of the romance. Then, she would enter a demonization phase where she would try to convince anyone willing to listen to her that her ex was part of the same cult that inflicted her so much grief as a child. In a similar way than the codependent, the PBPD can turn her addiction to abuse to productive use by helping the unfortunate ones. Since 2001, Angelina Jolie has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced persons. She also adopted 3 children. French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has dedicated the second half of her life rescuing animals. Princess Diana was involved in over 100 charities and she made a big impact fighting homelessness and helping victims of HIV/AIDS and leprosy. Overtime, as healing takes place, both PBPD and borderline learn to enjoy a more peaceful and simple love without relentless crises. They realize that can experience intimacy and love without the roller coaster.
The 80/20 rule in seeing the positive in your partner
The PBPD will have a tendency to catastrophizing and only focus on the negative in herself and her partner. The codependent will often err on the opposite. He will stay positive and apparently strong any time his partner feels bad or negative. This is his way to cope and exercise control in the situation. He has a tendency to act too optimistic in situations potentially dangerous to his partner. Even if his wife struggles with alcoholism, he could say “Let me give you a glass of champagne darling, this will help you relax”. He will let his wife go out with a man interested romantically with her trusting them a bit too much. He will give his daughter to a baby-sitter with bad vibes. He will decide to go out with his friends at the time his wife feels suicidal. Wearing pink glasses is his way of coping. He thinks he can make himself safer when imagining that we live in a good world with good people. He actually endangers himself and his family with this attitude. His borderline partner, on the opposite, feels too much the potential dangers and often amplifies them. She feels she cannot trust her codependent partner to keep her safe and will go ballistic at him when her anxiety reaches a threshold. The codependent will typically only crash emotionally and display negative emotions when his borderline partner feels happy! First, he feels very threatened by her happiness as he fears that she will not need him anymore if she feels good. Secondly, he built resentment through the many crises but did not allow himself to feel any of it because of the instability in the relationship. If he sees his borderline partner doing well, he feels this is his opportunity to share everything that upset him over the last few weeks, which unmistakably overwhelms and triggers his borderline girlfriend.
It is very frustrating for the PBPD as she feels she spends most of her time in doom, and when the sunshine comes, he immediately spoils it! In my twenties, I worked as an engineer in the Silicon Valley software start-up. We had a borderline male employee called Steve with constant conflictual relationships with many co-workers. The CEO liked him however because Steve’s mind was always focused on what could go wrong and this helped avert potential business threats as he felt that the rest of the management team was too optimistic. Though there are some positive aspects in looking at a glass half empty however there is a problem in always seeing the negative in your partner. The codependent struggles with shame too. If he is constantly shamed who he is and what he does, he will start deflecting the shame and pointing to his partner her own shadows. They will work on each other non-stop. It will cease to be a relationship. It will become a self-improvement torture chamber. To support someone towards positive change, it is well known that we need to receive more compliments than criticism. By continuing to reflect the positive of our partners, we will support their development towards their higher potential. On the other hand, the codependent needs to be more connected, aware of his environment and realize that the policy of burying one’s head in the sand is not the right strategy to follow. He should ensure to stay positive when his borderline partner feels good so that she can fully enjoy these brief moments of happiness. He needs to improve his communication so that he can bring constructive feedback in a way that would be best received by his borderline partner. He needs to express things as they come so that they do not have the time to fester in him. The borderline has to learn to see her codependent partner more objectively. She goes from idealization to demonization back to idealization and then again demonization in no time. She needs to recognize that her partner has qualities and flaws just like she has. Putting in writing how she feels about her partner will help her realize her “splitting” and eventually heal from it.
Become an expert in your partner
First by becoming an expert in your partner, you will learn to spend enjoyable time together while minimizing triggers. Ask lots of questions, be inquisitive and curious about him/her. The better she feels, the better you feel or more succinctly “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. By better understanding your partner’s dysfunctions, you can also better support their recovery and avoid fatal mistakes. This knowledge is best received when it is inconspicuous and unconditional. It should not be a way to score points for a hidden agenda. In this day and age, we are lucky that so much valuable information is at our fingertips. About any question we have may be answered by an insightful YouTube video or podcast. We can make our car a university on wheels during our commute time and keep improving our relationships. There are optimal communication strategies for any type of person and this is what we need to become skillful at using the right words at the right time. If you partner is codependent, here are some of the approaches that may work:
If he feels disconnected, be inquisitive, ask him how he feels, use his love language to bring him back to his heart, help him bring out to the surface what is bothering him deeply inside
If he says yes but you feel no weight behind his words, challenge him in his commitment. Either get him accountable and make it easy for him to say no. Confront him every time you feel he is lying to him and others (mostly subconsciously because he is a people pleaser). Do not let him off the hook. Point out his lack of consistency and how this is impacting others
If his words or actions are hurting you, become vulnerable on how he is making you feel and take responsibility for your feelings not to trigger his shame. Empower him to make things better for you. Tell him you hurt because you love him
Get him in touch with his shadows. Create a safe container for him to express the parts behind the “good guy”, all of the unsavory aspects of his hurt inner child. Reward him every time he has the courage to go there
It is important that we learn to clearly communicate our needs and likes instead of expecting our partners to know them telepathically. While this feels great when our partner does things what we treasure without the need to ask them, why not make it easier on them instead of constantly testing their love for us? Let us coach them to speak our love language instead of doing things for them with the expectation of getting something in return. Even the most compatible persons will have difference in their love language so communication is key. Make separate lists of your needs, what you love and share it with your loved one. Provide loving and non-judgmental frequent feedback so that both partners can improve constantly of making each other feel loved.
The importance of the commitment to self
Happiness comes from the simple things of life: knowing who you are, feeling love for who we are, intimacy with special people and relationships, a supportive community, feeling creative, have our needs met at a physical level, being healthy, a connection to something greater than ourselves (ideal, God, values) and practicing activities that we enjoy. This is not rocket science but it takes commitment to fill our life with the ingredients of joy. In codependent relationships, we sacrifice our authentic self for the relationship. We are so desperate to be loved that we project a false idea of us so that we may be liked. The commitment to self has to come first as the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship. If the relationship stops supporting the individuals within the relationship, it does not have to mean a break-up. People can find creative ways to adjust the relationship in a way that they will feel better supported. This takes tremendous courage as these changes may trigger our insecurities and fears of abandonment. The commitment to self requires us to be OK to be alone, as we cannot control the reactions of others. This may not be our preferred way of being but unless we can sit in peace with ourselves, we will not be able to give our partner the freedom to love us by choice. Once our sense of self is secure, the commitment to the relationship comes with less anxiety so we can navigate the ups and downs in a more astute way. We typically make the worst relationship mistakes when we are triggered. As we dive deeper in intimacy, we start including the other into our personal field so the commitment to self will naturally encompass them too. Loving oneself extends to loving our partner and eventually to the whole universe as we increase our awareness.
Own your shame
Most fights between codependents and borderline are escalated when shame is triggered. Owning your shame is the best way to de-escalate the argument. Let me give you a couple of examples. Instead of “Why did book this shitty hotel? This is the last time you do the travel reservations”, say “I felt small and taken for granted when you booked this hotel for us. I really want to feel safe with you and it is hard to do when you do not seem to see me”. Instead of “Can I have some space now? I cannot take this constant drama” say “I feel at odds with myself and I do not think I can be a good company for you until I can sort things out. May I go meditate and reconnect with you after I am done?”. Instead of “How can you be friend with that asshole? He is just a narcissistic jerk” say “I feel triggered around your friend. He always speak about himself and never seems to care to listen about things in our life”. Instead of “Being with you is like being with a cold stone. It is obvious why none of your relationships never lasted very long” say “I do not feel seen, felt or understood right now. I feel unsafe as a result. I need you to really connect to me right now”. If you can show some genuine vulnerable emotions, your communication will be that much more effective. Owing our shame starts with the courage to believe that our innate nature is lovable, which would allow us to be vulnerable and therefore to build intimacy. It is important to stay humble because unless we are willing to acknowledge our own failings, we will continuously project what we refuse to see in ourselves into our partner. I had once a partner who kept saying obsessively that I had duped her to get in a relationship with her. This was partly true because as a codependent, I would portray myself as someone I am not in order to conquer the object of my desire because I felt unlovable deep within. However, what she failed to realize is that she felt even more intensely like a bad apple and did not believe anyone could love her for who she is. There were just as many things she hid about herself than her codependent partner. Projecting this deep shame solely into her partner prevented her to own it.
A good family therapist is important to help us navigate through the intricacies of interpersonal relationships with our partners, children and parents. There is a significant stigma in Europe with people using therapists. They are often labeled as crazy and unstable so most people in Europe would see a shrink in secret. People in the USA and even more Californians are very open to it. When a situation triggers both partners at the same time, a qualified therapist is critical. I do not recommend using a friend because the friend would typically be biased and they do not have the professional training to rise above the interpersonal conflict. The therapist primary goal is to help release the unconscious into the conscious, support introspection and empower the stakeholders towards a creative solution as their awareness is lifted. It is important to take your time to find a good family therapist. Many enter this profession because they feel damaged and they have not done yet all the inner work necessary to help others. A skilled family therapist is important at times to any intimate partnership but it is absolutely critical for codependent/borderline couple who need all the help they can get with their rocky relationship. The best therapists would actually be the ones that experienced earlier in their life the same negative patterns. I have an absolutely extraordinary family therapist. He is an older gentleman. He was raised in a horrendous family dynamic and he had a disorganized attachment style as a result. He was married and divorced 3 times before he was able to finally develop a healthy and intimate relationship with his 4th wife whom he has been for over 30 years now. He has done immense inner work to get where he is now, which makes him incredible knowledgeable and insightful in helping his clients.
Make the couple a sanctuary
Codependent/borderline relationships are inherently turbulent and therefore experience power struggles. Power struggles come from personal insecurity and powerlessness. We attempt to control our partner to love us because we feel deep inside unworthy of love. If someone does not feel secure in a relationship, they have the tendency to enroll their personal friends to validate their opinions and show their partner that they are right. This can do no good to the relationship. While venting to your friends can be sometimes helpful to release some of the internal pressure and frustration one may experience, enlisting them to prove your points would just damage the relationship. We need to keep remembering what is more important to us, to be loved or to be right? I was once in a very unhealthy community situation where all the community members were either employees or followers of my wife. They worshipped her and she could do no wrong. It was very tempting for her to enlist them to make herself right to me, ignoring the fact that they were all biased to start with. If I had used my close friends or French family to rally to my opinion, they would have sided with me. That would not have made me right. This was not an option anyway because they were not in our living community. And this would have just made the conflict larger instead of contributing towards a meaningful resolution of the conflict. This is why a trained therapist should be used instead of friends or community members to work through a relationship conflict. Communities are a very dangerous place for committed intimate relationships. As a young man, I remember that most couples that moved to the Fellowship of Friends community in northern California would divorce the first year. Community life diffuse the commitment between the two individuals and there is a high temptation to get one’s needs met outside the relationship instead of doing the hard work of focusing and solving the conflicts within the relationship. In my recent situation, community members that were my wife followers surrounded her. It was like living at the queen’s court. They were always fighting for her attention and it was difficult to have time where only the two of us could be together alone to simply connect. If you are looking to live in a community, I would advise to look for an equal community where members relate to each other on an equal basis and have interdependent relationships instead of dependent and hierarchical ones. It would be a model where each family knows very well their neighbors, and where the community is enhanced through regular get together, instead of a pyramidal structure. My situation was extreme and is quite rare, but it is important for any couple to make their intimate relationship a priority. As we discussed, the self is the priority because if we are not true to ourselves, we cannot be in an authentic relationship but the relationship is next in line even before the children for a married couple. The children feed from the energy of a healthy marriage and get damaged by the constant conflicts of their parents. So by putting your marriage first, you are putting your children first. Recomposed families are more complex systems and they are outside the scope of this article. It is a big temptation once we have children to put our marriage after the children, after our hobbies and sometimes even after some of our friendships. The result is often disastrous because the marriage is supposed to be the foundation of our family life but no more energy gets invested into it. You need to treat your relationship like a sanctuary if you want a happy life. The codependent and the borderline need to stop their destructive habit of enticing people outside the relationship to look like victims and instead take full responsibility for their personality disorder and their relationship.
Do not fool yourself that you will jump dramatically in terms of quality of partner from one relationship to the next. Remember that your partner comes to you through the law of attraction so they are an external mirror of who you are inside. What is far more important than finding a perfect partner is to find a partner that you can grow with. If you have attachment traumas, it is then far more sensible to find an introspective partner that has done a lot of inner work, and has learned from their personal wounds. Even if you meet someone with a secure attachment style, it is likely that there will not be any chemistry unless you have a secure attachment style yourself. For this reason, my future partner is likely to be a conscious borderline. After the initial honeymoon phase of a new relationship, we usually come back to the same personal flaws that contributed to our last breakup. Intimate relationships are a personal growth accelerator so there is simply no escape to what we are supposed to work on this lifetime if we are going to share our lives with someone special. I trust in the power of attraction in terms of intimate relationships. Many people have been hurt in intimate relationships so they learned to distrust their own chemistry & attraction feelings. They would rather cut their attraction sensors and focus solely on a compatibility checklist out of fear. Our body never lies. It is all about understanding and becoming conscious of what our body is attempting to communicate to us. Attraction is the path of freedom and back to oneself. However it is critical we move into this attraction with self-awareness because of our personal shadows. If there is no chemistry, there is limited growth. Our society is addicted to the removal of pain and struggles but suffering is a fact of life that needs to be embraced instead of feared so that we can become whole again. A friend of mine has a joke about the frozen packages of processed chicken in supermarkets. He called them boneless, skinless and flavorless chicken. Do you want a boneless, skinless and flavorless relationship or do you want to be consumed by love and be transformed to the full potential of who you are?
Love and intimacy are powerful forces because they reflect the movement of God towards integration. Many of us with attachment traumas, whether we are codependents or borderlines have been damaged through relationships. We can now heal through relationships too. This is why we need each other.
I was fortunate to have many experiences in my lifetime. I have traveled in many parts of the world, I have built companies, non-profit organizations, I have connected with people from many different cultures, I have networked with the rich, wealthy and famous and experienced high-flying lifestyle. Among all these experiences, not a single one ever came close in intensity and happiness than the deep and intimate connection with a beloved. This experience is available to any of us as we open ourselves to authentic love no matter what may be our background.
Yesterday, we went hiking with the family and visited an aviary with birds from all over the world. I had decided to organize some fun family time as I understood how important is “together time” for Winter, Teal and our extended family. Teal and I travel often and I have many activities and responsibilities that occupy my time and I recognized I was not present enough to my stepson and members of the extended community such as Graciela. As we were about to start on our day trip, Winter started to act out and refused to come. A couple of years ago, if it had been my children, I will have raised my voice and coerced them into getting into the car, shutting their feelings as I felt I knew better what was right for them. Fortunately, Teal knows better and she took the time to engage a dialog with her son. She got him to a point to express his discomfort. And as we were driving to the mountain, he started to give us to our awe a remarkable speech on the power of the attachment theory with the words of a 7 year old. He expressed how his heart was starting to feel distrust as people acting as nannies would come in and out of his life. He felt very connected to a community member that last year for a variety of reason had to leave us temporarily and as a result he is now feeling a resistance to get close again to new caretakers as he feels they would leave and the pain of separation would be too great to handle. He explained in a remarkably clear way for a 7 year old what he needed to feel very close to this individual again. She felt so moved by his words that she started shedding tears. I used this opportunity to ask Winter about our own personal connection and with his hands, he showed me the separation between him and I which was significant. He basically said that I was around but not really there. His statement moved me deeply too. He is right that I am not really present to him as a stepdad as I have not made it a priority and often find myself delegating his caretaking to other members of the community. We talked and we decided together to spend at least once a week some time just the two of us so that we can truly connect and feel closer to one another.
As we drove back in the evening, I told Teal that I felt a heavy heart and would love to do a process with her on it, before working on the computer. I had pain in my upper neck, which was an indication I was repressing emotions. Teal helped me work through some triggers and did some body work on me. Her hands are truly magical as her extra sensory gifts showed her visually the stuck energy in my body. At that point, she felt I was ready for an authentic talk. She confronted me that while we spent the day together, she felt I was not really engaged and present with the rest of them. It was hard to hear at first as I had organized the full day to make it fun for everyone, and it felt like all of us had a good time. I reviewed then the day in my mind and could see her perspective. I had spent the day a lot in my own mind. I did not make particular efforts to engage with anyone. I found myself a couple of times alone during the activities as I was either before or behind our small group. I asked to read my book in the car instead of going to the store shopping for clothes for Winter. I started to feel bad. I tried to do the right thing by organizing a fun family day but I had failed. I had been physically present but not emotional present to the family. As a result, my wife was actually starving of connection after a day dedicated to spending time together as a family! I pushed my projects aside that evening and made sure all my attention and focus would be on her and us.
Teal was right. I was acting as a human doing and not a human being, and I was making them feel while I was with them that I did not want to be there and that I would rather work on my projects. I became conscious that I had the same pattern with my previous family. I would go on hikes, often leading the way in the front of everyone, not curious about my children inner world, feelings, endeavors, content with a shallow connection while this would our only day off in a busy Silicon Valley work week. Shortly after Alina and I separated, I tried to make the time spent with my children special, and I would organize special trips, time with friends or activities during the time I had them. They however complained to me that what they really wanted was to connect to me instead of always being distracted. I felt unappreciated as I felt I was really trying to make our time together special. I was making them feel that they were not enough by themselves for themselves and that I had to always add more stimulation to make the time spent with them acceptable. This was not my conscious intent. This was more my own projection. I felt subconsciously I was not good enough that they would enjoy spending time with me without additional entertainment. People around me often feel that I would rather do something else than truly being and connecting with them. Despite my 25 years on the spiritual path, I felt disabled in my connection abilities. I was feeling powerless to create the very feelings in myself and others that are so important to me.
As I went deeper into my process with the support of Teal, I realized the trauma was coming from dad side. His mother would rarely visit him when he was a child. He subconsciously felt she would rather not be with him as she felt shame for the relationship that had given birth to him. Their infrequent meeting was more a painful reminder that there was something wrong and bad with him. My grandmother always lived in her own world too and always had difficulty connecting with family members at a deeper level while appearing as a socialite to the outside world. She had a sister called Tati Jojo who was very kind to us, and we developed a much deeper relationship with her, and this created some jealousy on my grandmother side as she could not understand why my sister and I felt closer to Tati Jojo than her as she was not aware of her relating pattern. We are dealing here with generational trauma. My grandmother mother died when she was 11. Her father quickly remarried. The new wife did not like her and her sister. They were kicked out of the house and had to start working at the post office in their early teens to sustain themselves. Then, 50 years later, my parents divorced when I was 10. My sister and I stayed initially with my father but because of the insecurity of my stepmother and the codependency of my father, I was sent back to be with my mother while I had asked my dad to stay with him. Again, I felt powerless not to repeat the same pattern. My son was 11 when Alina and I separated. While I did everything on my end to fight for an integrated family structure after the divorce, my children were taught to hate my new wife while they never met her, and from their perspective, they felt abandoned by a dad that would choose another woman over them. Any family trauma that is not healed, repeats from generation to generation, often in a tragic way.
After my parents divorced, some of the most painful time I experienced was the time spent with my father. During that time, I felt invisible. Though the times we would spend together were rare, he was not emotionally present to me. It felt like he would rather do something else and be somewhere else. I felt non-existent, small and unworthy of love. He often had hurtful comments or clumsy gifts that made me feel worse about myself. From his perspective, he felt he was making efforts trying to be a good father while still acting from his hurt inner child not very differently to what I am doing today with my closed ones. I understand that he often thinks of me and believes he loves me however his actions more often than not send a different message. He is not an abusive man. He is actually doing what he can but because of his own upbringing, he has incapacity to connect and make other people feel special because deep inside, he feels very unworthy. And I have to accept that he is a mirror of me. My father would often tell me that he and his parents were proud of my school results. As a result, I felt I could only be valued for my successes and external accomplishment not for who I am. I learned that people did not have a real desire to connect to me. I always strived to be the best at school so that I would have a chance to be loved. I became a human doing, and experienced for most of my adulthood relationships that were conditional in nature as a result.
Then Teal brought me to a visualization of the type of father that I really wanted as a child. This father would be fully present to me, he would be a teacher full of wisdom about life and relationships. When we would interact, he would focus and empathically listen to me, he would show concern, have the sincere desire to know me deep inside. He would be excited to spend time with me. I would always be on his mind. He would show small gestures of love making me feel important. He would act as a protector when necessary and always be available for me when I need it. He would encourage me, help me overcome my fears, have a sympathetic ear, and show both strength and vulnerability. As I contemplate who my inner child really wanted as a father, I come to realize the brutal truth that in my present life, I often act more like my father than being the man my inner child has been starving for. From this painful awareness, I feel a sincere desire to change. I understand that to truly heal my life, my relationships, it is time to give my inner child what I always wanted and give it to the closest people of my life. For you Winter, I want you to feel that I enjoy spending time and connecting with you, that you are important to me, that I will be careful with your heart and not pull away, that I am interested to understand and see the unique being that you are. For you Teal, I want you to feel that I would rather be with you than doing anything else in the world, that you are my top priority. I want to make you feel safe, cared for, cherished and adored. I want you to feel that I am an expert of you and always care about your best interest. I want to be your anchor, strength and stability even during the storms of life. I want to share the same qualities to my extended family. As I heal, I sincerely hope that my own children will feel the call of my heart and will consider reconnecting with me as they feel I could improve their lives and support them authentically instead of being a liability.
I remember that in the past I have tried to bring these higher masculine qualities however I am now realizing that I attempted to do so while repressing my inner child. Now, I am committed to bring these qualities within me while staying present to my inner child. My man self not only need to take care of my loved ones but also to my hurt little boy, as he is being reflected externally. This is why relationships are such an accelerated track for expansion. And by living a life with the spiritual catalyst, all my shadows appear clearly and there is nowhere to hide as everything is reflected and amplified.
In my life, I have been a human doing more than a human being and it is not a surprise I spent 20 years in the Silicon Valley where a regular work week is 70 hours without counting the side projects to get ahead. As a human doing, how we feel about ourselves is only connected to our accomplishments. We received compliments as a child only when we achieved something special externally. This is true to me and also to Teal’s childhood. This style of parenting is very common and well regarded in society. While it is better than emotional neglect, most people do not realize the amount of damage done by this parenting style. To be worthy of love, children learn to behave a certain way and accomplish certain results otherwise love is removed. They learn they do not have an intrinsic value. Unfortunately, everyone knows that the satisfaction derived by accomplishments is always short lived. When I was 20, after I entered one of the top engineering schools of France after national competitive exams, my joy only lasted a couple of weeks and quickly turn into depression as I lost the escape mechanism for my own inner void and childhood trauma. Teal told me yesterday that a happy wife will mean much more to me than any of my accomplishments in terms of personal happiness. She is so right. As we grow older, our joy comes more and more from simple pleasure of connecting and relating instead of our past achievements. As a human doing, we develop an addiction to cross as many items from our list in order to feel fulfilled for the day instead of feeling how we have impacted each other lives for the better. As a human doing, failure to perform means worthlessness and that we are undeserving of love.
I can see how this pattern has affected most of my relationships. Every time I have fallen in love, the first couple of months are heavenly. There is no time, just the pleasure to connect with one another. A day feels like a couple of minutes. Then the intensity of the infatuation subsides, and a covert subconscious belief comes in. It makes me feel that unless I am able to have achievements, she will leave me because I am not good enough on my own. So I pull away to focus on my activities in order keep the love I cannot afford to lose. By pulling away, I bring dissatisfaction to my mate that starts pulling away to protect herself emotionally and my very fear of the lost love becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. She feels abandoned, not good enough for who she is and her own insecurity is brought up. She feels unloved and unworthy at her turn. Inevitably, she detaches to make me feel the way I make her feel and the relationship becomes rocky. I become alone in my accomplishments and do not understand why love is going away while I am working so hard, and do so much for my wife and the family. This is the tragedy of the human doing.
Instead, by focusing on our children feelings, values, efforts, how they treat other people, we show them we truly care for who they are, and not only have concerns about their results. Let’s leave that for the corporate world. Transactional relationships may be OK for the business world however they are toxic for family relationships as we need to instill unconditional love to our children to create the new earth. We will then raise children with less fear of failure that are free to experiment and discover their unique gifts, as their self-esteem is not in danger when they do not perform according expectation. We may fear that this attitude may make them under achievers however by doing so, we focus on the very underlying conditions of success and we make them connect to their individual talent derived directly from their inner child. Movement, spontaneity and creativity are natural in children, not apathy. Inactivity and aloofness are the mark of trauma not of a healthy emotional upbringing. Our children can achieve success in two different ways. One will be a direct expression of their being, happiness and creativity, and will often translate in fulfilling and meaningful careers. Other will achieve success at the price of intense inner struggles, coping mechanisms, misery along the way often followed by a crash, realizing later in life that they hate their job and their lives. They will often fool people on the outside as everyone think they are successful. These two categories of success can be observed in all walks of life, especially with top athletes. The human doing is the personality than has repressed the human being or the inner child, the seat of the soul with all its creative, expressive and intuitive abilities. Our human doing has done enough damage shutting down our inner child. It is time to have our human doing serve our human being for a truly meaningful and satisfying life.
Do you want to be a human doing or a human being? What do you want your children to become?
This morning when I woke up, I felt some intense and dark heavy energy. For the last 6 years, meditation has been my refuge when I was faced with challenging emotions. For this reason, I put on my favorite meditation music, sat and started to listen to my internal world. I have verified what Teal teaches, which is that strong emotional triggers can be used as a rope to get deep within yourself and to get unique insights about the healing that needs to be brought forth. Often the strong energy of the trigger will bring on an altered state of consciousness. In this altered state of consciousness, you can see yourself from a higher perspective.
The first energy I felt was connected to the loss of my two children that I have not been able to talk with for almost a year now. A wave of shame ensued. How bad do you have to be if your own children aged 11 and 13 refuse to have any contact with you? At a conscious level, I can understand the psychological dynamics at play. I intellectually understand that because of the many complex aspects involved in this situation I should not be so hard on myself. However I find that my inner child is unable to separate from the deep shame created by this separation.
In my coaching role over the years, I have worked with many people that have daddy issues. Some of them had the most horrible fathers but the children were still trying to have a relationship with their father. They were doing this despite an obvious lack of reciprocity. I am not saying I was the perfect father as I can see that I have made many mistakes along the way as a father. I did what I could with what I knew at the time. Losing all contact with both of my children (like I never existed for them in the first place) feels utterly unfair and cruel. It feels so painful.
At this time during my meditation, I remembered my talk with my friend Avtar in Atenas, Costa Rica. He was telling me that I was making the pain worse by creating a story about the situation that would make me feel worse and solicit other people’s support. I challenged him. I told him that there is a part of us that requires validation, care and concern when we are confronting pain and suffering. Dismissing and discounting the part of us that is suffering is even more damaging. I shared my personal experience with him that I had become an expert at coping. Earlier in my life, I developed the ability to perform & function no matter what the circumstance. I had created a spiritual personality that could always see the silver lining in everything and even convince myself that situations that are traumatic are “all perfect”. While this is true from a higher dimensional perspective, it was only after being with Teal that I realized that I was bypassing and that I had repressed a lot of traumas this way. As a result, they kept manifesting externally. This is exactly what happened with the loss of my children.
My spiritual personality had shut down my inner child and left me disconnected. I had lost my spontaneity and my aliveness. Avtar and I agreed that it is important to avoid the two extremes of identifying with the story around the pain and repressing it. There is always a higher alternative which is to fully experience the energy around the trigger without a story and let this energy runs its course without resistance within ourselves.
As I reflected back on our conversation, I let myself fully experience the pain without identification or without the need to create a story around my pain. I went to a higher perspective and saw that I was continuously creating and emitting the energy of loss in my life. I dove into the energy of loss and I saw my life from this perspective. I re-experienced the loss of intimate partners that I was so close to. I felt their betrayal. I felt the pain of losing my stepson. I felt the pain of losing most of my friends who cut all contact with me after I made the decision to leave the cult I was a member of when I was 23. I felt the pain of losing my own children after a horrendous court battle. I felt the pain of suffering the betrayal of colleagues and employees that I worked with so closely for a long time. I have a self-concept that I am a good guy however all these events seem to show a different story. They show a herd of people angry with me, seeing me as an awful person. I acknowledged this fact and sank into the deep shame underneath all these events.
In the meditation, I was brought back to my parents and I was shown their shame. Shamanism teaches us that we inherit all of the unresolved issues of our parents through our genes. My mother lost her own mother when she was 3 years old after a neighbor had reported the abuse of the new stepfather. She became a foster child raised by an old lady. She was taught to shower in the dark because her own nudity was considered shameful. She was forbidden to turn on the light to do her homework so as to not waste the money of her caretaker. She was instructed to use worn ugly clothes in order to not attract the envy and the negative attention of people that were paying for her upbringing through subsidies with their tax money. My mother’s first love died in his early twenties from terminal illness.
My father’s story is also built upon shame. Unbeknownst to him (until he was in his sixties), his mother became pregnant with him after a love affair with a Nazi officer during the Second World War. She moved away and managed to hide the truth of the situation. However in order to avoid a possible punishment, she gave her son away to an old lady in the countryside. She would send her money, and rarely would visit. Though she loved him, she was incapable of hiding her own feelings of shame about this liaison from her son. It was only after getting more stable in her life and marrying the man that I thought was my grandfather that she took her son back. He was 10 years old. At that time, he hardly knew any French and was acting more like a wild animal than a boy of his age. Considering their background, my parents did relatively well. However, all of the shame they were not able to transform was passed to my sister and to myself.
For this incarnation, I chose to be the son of two parents who were struggling with huge shame issues. During this meditation, I saw my soul contract with shame. 4 years ago, during a spiritual experience, I saw how earth was a prison planet. I saw a vision that we were all souls that had deviated from the divine plan. I saw that from our own freewill, we started to hurt other beings in the universe and as a result, were brought to earth to re-learn the consequences of our actions to become benevolent again. From this perspective, we are like fallen angels using earth as our purgatory. Our sense of guilt has brought us to our human experience.
For a couple of years, I volunteered in jail as a chaplain to provide spiritual guidance to inmates. I realized that most convicts carry an immense amount of guilt and this is how they become a match to the experience of jail. There are a lot of people that have committed much worse actions that walk freely in the world today. If they experience no guilt, they would not end up in jail. This is why someone like Doc (Teal’s abuser) is still walking freely today. In this new meditation I saw how shame, even more than guilt, was the energy that was attaching us to earth. It is acting just like the force of gravity.
In the spiritual community, people see Love as being the opposite of Fear. From this new perspective, I could see how all fears stem from shame. When I am jealous, I feel ashamed about not being good enough for my partner. When I am afraid to do public speaking, I am ashamed to look like a fool. When I am afraid to lose my job, I am ashamed that I cannot support myself or ashamed of the disapproval of my supervisor. Most conflicts in relationship emerge from shame as well. We are desperately trying to make each other wrong so that we can be good. This is a deep realization I had with Teal a couple of weeks ago and now, we decided to practice owning our shame consciously rather than deflecting it in order to avoid conflict escalation.
I recently read the excellent book of Ross Rosenberg called ‘The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us’. He describes the codependent, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders and how they play out in relationship dynamics. As a result of reading this book, I realized that all personality disorders live within us in various degrees because they are the direct result of emotional abuse or neglect that took place in our childhood. From that perspective, there is no mental illness but only traumas that have not been released or integrated. When I realized this true cause of personality disorders, I began to see that these personality disorders all come from the shame we acquired in the face of trauma.
As a child, if something bad happens to us, we need to create meaning to deal with the suffering and most of time the meaning we create is that we are bad and this is why we deserve to get into painful experiences. The personality disorder we will develop will depend upon our degree of powerlessness in face of trauma and our own predisposition for coping. Of the three types, the codependent is the least powerless. While still raised in an environment where their emotional needs cannot be met, they are able to somehow affect the response of their caretakers. For example, a child like myself could have felt powerless with his mom’s mood swings, emotional unavailability and dark suicidal thoughts however he may have been able to get his mom’s attention by crying to evoke her pity at the very least. Codependents learn to control other people through various emotional manipulation strategies because they are not able to meet their emotional needs directly.
The codependent has a desperate need to appear to be the good guy to cover up his own inner shame. The two other disorders (Narcissists and Borderlines) develop from complete and utter powerlessness to create any needed emotional reactions from their early caretakers and they will split into 2 groups. The first group develops the ability to shut down their feelings as a coping mechanism to cover their own shame. These people can end up being narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths. They become unable to feel. They replay their own inner drama externally, often by creating great pain around them. More often than not, men will adopt this coping mechanism because they are head centered. When the individual is unable to stop feeling as a coping mechanism, they will most likely develop borderline personality disorder. This often translates into self-injury, self-hate, suicidal tendencies and emotional deregulation. Women who are more heart centered are most likely to develop this personality disorder. This personality type creates a lot of turmoil around them however they are creating a living hell for themselves more so than for anyone else.
Some of the descriptions of these personality types may appear extreme, however we should consider that each one of us demonstrates some of these traits depending on the amount of unresolved trauma we experienced. And you will always find shame at the core of each dysfunction. Skilled therapists are reluctant to use these labels (narcissist or borderline) because they know their clients will automatically feel shame as a result of being put into that box, which would make the therapy unproductive. These terms are only useful when used from the point of view of self-observation and accessing the wealth of knowledge and tools available around them. They are not useful as a shaming mechanism.
Today, I did an exercise where I listed all the things I am ashamed of. To my surprise, there was over one hundred items in this list! It felt like I was finally being authentic and it helped me release a very heavy emotional burden that I felt I have been carrying for a very long time. I am only sharing with you a few of them because I am too ashamed of the rest 😉
I am ashamed that I have been such a terrible father that my children have chosen not to have a relationship with me
I am ashamed that I am so unattuned that people sometimes see me as dangerous
I feel ashamed of my heavy French accent after 20 years in the US
I am ashamed that I trigger my significant other often
I feel ashamed that I am not valuable enough to my father that he decided not to go to my wedding with Teal
This exercise helped me so much that I would like to invite you to share your own shame list with all of us in the comments below. We should consider that most institutionalized religions and most social organizations are anchored in shame. I am finding that one of the fastest ways to advance on the path of liberation is to become consciously aware of your shame.
I never took drugs or spiritual medicine outside of a safe shamanic container. A good friend and roommate of mine first introduced me to medicine work when I was 26. At the time, I took LSD and it completely shattered my reality. It short cut my mind and gave me an insight into the truth of spiritual reality, love, consciousness, my own life and my ultimate purpose. What I especially loved about it is that it gave me a direct access to reality, what people call God or Source and the truth of who I am. Because of this experience, I developed a lot of respect for medicinal plants and would commonly recommend to seekers who feel stuck or who have minds that get on the way on their heart. Because many of these substances are illegal in the US, I found in my early thirties a completely safe and legal way to bring altered states of consciousness using holotropic breathwork. As a psychotherapist, Grof was involved in earlier tests on the therapeutic potential of LSD. When psychedelics were peremptorily banned in the 1960s, Grof developed holotropic breathing as a means of simulating the psychedelic experience of LSD without the drug itself. I found an excellent facilitator where I lived in San Francisco at the time: Todd Zimmerman. Todd taught one of our best workshop to date at Philia from March 11th to 18th 2017. While breathwork does not provide the psychedelic elements that you may found with substances, it does bring altered states of consciousness, visions into the subconscious, deep emotional release and inner journeying. Another benefit is that one is able to bring much more memory from the journey as this is a body centered experience.
After I started dating Teal, I decided not to do medicine work. First, she was not that comfortable with shamanic medicine because it is bringing very high intensity emotions and could prevent people from feeling fully day-to-day reality that now become dependent of substances to get a high. The cult that abused her used breathwork as a way to program her as well so she was not open to try it at the time. However, after she had a private breathwork session with Todd at Philia, she changed her mind completely on this practice and stated this was the single best healing modality I had introduced to her. From my perspective, the states of consciousness brought by these shamanic processes are just guides to show your potential and bring you back into alignment with your higher purpose. They give you a window into the actual emotional truth of where you stand in order for you to take adjustments or changes to live your life at a higher level. They are a sacred tool that should not be used for recreational purpose. And many who have not treated them with respect have been burned. I was comfortable stopping medicine work at the time too because I felt that Teal was acting as my medicine as she continued to shake my reality, not letting me believe my own lies and challenge my perception while our love story provided so much movement that any increased stimulation felt unnecessary.
After we decided the move to Costa Rica, I become very busy with all the logistics and ensuring that Philia would be a success from the get go. As a problem solver, I threw myself in this endeavor fully while I started to pay less attention to my relationship with Teal. Teal started to feel more and more uneasy. She started to express a lot of discontent that I could not understand. From my perspective, we were living on a magical property in beautiful Costa Rica, with our family and friends, starting a retreat center to heal people, a common dream we shared. Our relationship continued to deteriorate to a point that Teal & I started to feel hopeless. After almost two years, I felt I needed to go on a shamanic journey to get out of the dead end I found myself. We had received an application through Philia of a local Ayahuasca shaman so I invited him and his wife to meet with Teal & I. Teal instantly connected with him and felt guided to take this journey too but the shaman recommended that we do it on different days as some of our struggles related to our relationship. She had decided to go one day before. When she came back, she had difficulty walking, crashed with the intensity of everything she saw but relieved in many ways. We only had one hour together before I had to leave to my own journey. I remember her eyes full of love as she saw through her third eye what Ayahuasca would teach me by crashing me too. However, she was not allowed to share anything yet about her own experience and what would unfold for me.
Four other friends decided to join me for this Ayahuasca journey. For three of them, it was the first time taking it. It was only my second time. I had taken it previously 6 years ago with a Hispanic group and it had been a hard but very important learning experience. While I was the last one to take a cup of the sacred mixture early evening, I was the first to feel the effect of the sacred mixture and started to vomit only after a couple of minutes while it was only the first round even though I had fasted the last two days. The rest of the group took three turns and a friend even had four rounds and hardly felt anything. There is a saying that Ayahuasca always gives you what you need. Every person experience of Ayahuasca is unique. I started to purge heavily and hallucinate. My head was buzzing in an uncomfortable way. The surrounding shamanic music and the Costa Rica constant background of secators were being amplified to a state of discomfort. I was able not to go into panic, simply allowing the various fears to run their course while enduring the physical, emotional and mental pain of the experience. Teal had recommended me not to resist the place where Ayahuasca wanted to bring me. It took me two hours of torment & confusion to finally get to that place while the Shaman and his friend were attentive to all my needs while I was expressing distress as continued to purged. But when Ayahuasca came to finally take me, it hit me hard. An immense grief took possession of every cell of my body and I started sobbing uncontrollably. I saw my children. At that time, I had not seen them for a year (and it was at the court) and I have not talked to them for nine months as they refused to have any connection with me. Losing one’s children is probably one of most brutal experience one could ever experience. All this time, I had blocked the grief and the pain of this loss. I stayed in this grief space for about 14 hours simply feeling and sobbing. It was emotional painful however the release felt good too. I had told Teal & Mark (Teal’s ex husband) a week before that collapsing emotionally served no purpose. I realized that I was completely wrong as the crashing I was experiencing was healing me. I had so much grief accumulated in my body that I had become fully toxic to my extra sensory wife and I was more often than not choosing to dismiss her instead of acknowledging her distress or worse deflect my pain back to her. During the journey, I realized that at the same time I was grieving my children, my inner child was also grieving the fact that he did not have parents that were emotionally present to him. I was also grieving the fact that my personality had abandoned my inner child at a very early age that I had to be strong and to deal with childhood trauma on my own as I became a parentified child. I remembered myself not crying at all after the divorce of my parents when I was eleven, or my mother telling me that only me was capable of taking myself of the anxiety attacks I was susceptible as a young teenager. I remember learning to deal with my emotional pain alone because no one could be present with me during these times. I realized I had been abusing my inner child for over 40 years too. As is the case for development trauma, I gave myself the right to adopt new parents that could be fully present to my emotional needs. I saw clearly my coping mechanism to disconnect under pressure in order to do what I have to do. This state of disconnection had only increased Teal’s torment about our relationship. As this happened, the intentional community became more weary which increased the pressure on me and consequently on Teal which created a vicious circle. This vicious cycle was exacerbated as Teal’s outburst would make me shut down even further. I realized I needed more support from the team through a reliable management layer so that I could be the nurturing and attentive husband that my wife deserves. I saw my tendency to assume that something is wrong with her or try to fix her instead of acknowledging my responsibility in her distressed state. Regrets came through. I felt my lack of compassion towards her while holding her to very high personal behavioral standards that are not aligned to the extreme childhood traumas she endured. I also remember how Teal had shared with me so many words of wisdom or accurate explanation of what she and I were going through that I had completely dismissed. I saw clearly my resistance to her. As I suffered in the hands of a megalomaniac guru between 20 and 23 year old, I have used my logical mind as my safeguard and I have refused to take anyone on faith since. I have a need to understand to an extreme, and assume a position that other people are wrong unless they can prove me otherwise, which is a stress on relationships. I also saw my tendency to discount and dismiss other people. From four in the morning to noon, I continued to sob and experience my irrepressible grief. During that time, neither the shaman nor any of my friends came to support me. Because I was in an altered state of consciousness, I was as incapable as an infant to express the emotional need that I needed someone to hold my hand and to be present emotionally with me in this process. I had finally realized my need to feel supported and cherished by others instead of making it on my own, which I had done all my life. This time spent alone in my own torment seemed to feel like an eternity. I knew that I needed to have someone next to me and care for me to heal my development trauma to always do it on my own. Before that time, I did not really understand Teal’s words that the only way to heal from a development trauma is to meet the need that was not met in the first place. I had involuntarily inflicted a lot of pain on her through the trips to California I had to take from professional obligations last year not fully understanding her separation anxiety and not realizing that these separations were re-traumatizing to her as I thought she would simply get used to them as I felt I was doing the right and responsible thing. During these eight excruciable hours, I had to taste my own medicine and I had to deal with grief and isolation combined, and undergo the same ordeal that I had prescribed Teal a year ago. I stayed there for hours that seemed like months waiting to be liberated. While this was pure torture, I felt intuitively that this experience was brought to me so that I could feel her pain, which was one of the intentions I had set for this journey. All of my friends were done with their journey by early morning. They chatted, exchanged jokes and went for a nearby hike to a waterfall while I stayed suspended in limbo waiting, not knowing when I would be freed. Finally, around noon, the shaman came to me. I found the strength to make him understand that I need to feel his love and care as I finally get him to hold my hand. He gave me his unconditional presence but then start sharing with me some positive spiritual principles such as “there is only light and love”. This hurt me as I felt he did not see me or wanted to be with me in my pain. I start talking to him painfully to explain my need not to receive spiritual bypassing and I only wanted him to stay with me in my grief without trying to change or fix anything. I wanted to be loved unconditionally by him through his full presence, I wanted my deep sadness acknowledged, I wanted his empathy and compassion on how cruel the situation with my children had been. He got it. According the law of attraction, the painful reflection I am getting in my life is perfect but it is heartless and not conducive to healing when people reflect that high level abstract truth. Only a human perspective that is full of empathy, concern and compassion with all its raw emotions may bring healing. I only managed to start walking around 2 PM, about 20 hours after the start of the ceremony. The shaman brought me to walk into the river close to the property. He looked at me in the eyes and thanked me for the words I had shared with him. It really felt he brought a new understanding to support people even more deeply into their shamanic journeys. We looked at each other in the eyes and connected with profound love & respect. It is ironic that I managed to teach a Shaman a truth that I have been resisting so much to learn from Teal as my spiritual journey before her had been mostly about positive focus, spiritual bypassing and avoiding pain through filters and manipulating reality through my mind.
When I came back home, it felt good to be back and reconnecting with my beloved wife and share our mutual realizations from the journey. As I was now more aware that I have been disconnected, we decided that I should open to the community and ask for their help to provide their candid feedback if they find me insensitive so that I can be more aware of some of my coping mechanism to build a sincere desire for change. Unfortunately, it did not go as well as I expected. Eric shared his frustration that he is not yet in the place to help me because of accumulated resentment. The next morning, when we stopped by Graciela’s house, she announced that she is done with me that she is tired of getting hurt and does not want to support our relationship anymore without explaining what it meant in actual terms. Graciela’s face was marked with shock, anger and pain as she expressed her feelings. I was in disbelief not understanding how she could have built so much resentment and not even noticing it. This situation became unbearable for Teal as she was now put in the position to choose between her husband and best friend. Five members of the community spent the full day working on my difficult personality. I felt humiliated. This felt so unfair that everyone seemed to see that I was the only guilty one, but fault of another alternative I had to swallow to a full day of painful feedback, horrified by the picture held about me.
While I was hopeful that the Ayahuasca would heal Teal & I relationship, the opposite seemed to be happening. All the accumulated resentment built by the custody court case and my company transition that had translated into Teal’s worst possible nightmare were now all in the open and put considerable stress into our relationship. Over the next following days, some difficult arguments took place that made me feel more and more powerless, not really understanding the animosity towards me while I felt I did the best I could do every step of the way, always convinced I was doing the right thing.
Graciela had to withdraw for a couple of days from Teal & I to deal with the intensity of her emotions towards me. Graciela is a very conscious young woman fully committed to her personal development. Though it was clear my insensitivities and disconnection was a big part of the blow-up, she was able to acknowledge her own shadow and childhood traumas that I reflected back to her. She came to me with a pure and beautiful spirit of resolution. She had decided to come to me with an offering that will help me open my heart. Graciela is a woman working with Kambo and suggested she could help me through this modality to open my heart and let go of my protective narcissistic bubble. While my ego had resistance as I had to admit my own flaws, I know her ability and gift as a facilitator and decided to accept her present, especially that I was feeling again at a loss to create a beautiful relationship with the woman of my dreams. It would be a series a three sessions. Because of my schedule, we spread it out over a period of weeks.
The day before the first Kambo ceremony that I scheduled with Graciela, Teal was quite busy during the day and I was looking forward to reconnect with her in the evening. Unfortunately, when she came, Teal was very irritated towards me and I became the target of her anger and resentment. Our discussion went quickly downhill from there, so much that I asked her to practice silence together until we were able to express words that were conducive to resolution. Ten minutes of painful silence followed. Teal felt very resentful of two traumatic events that happened to us in 2016 when I had to make some difficult decisions that made her suffer though I stayed convinced this was the right decision. I started to explain to her the conundrum that I faced by using a simple example as the two other situations were too painful for a construction discussion. We brought a beautiful chime from Park City and Teal had hung it outside below our bedroom at Philia as it looked great there. Unfortunately, Costa Rica can have very windy nights and the chime would wake me up at night. I asked her if we could hang it somewhere else but she felt rightly so that was the best place for it. She suggested to tie it at night with a ribbon but I told it was unnecessary as I did not want to impose on her to do this every night as I felt she has way more important things to do. This example illustrated perfectly my coping strategy. I lived all my life as there is only two ways to deal with an unpleasant situation: you either cope by making the thing you do not like OK, or I change externally. Overtime, I managed to educate my willpower and endurance to such a degree that coping is typically my favorite option as I take the burden upon myself and do not need to create a conflict, however often at the expense of parts of myself. Also, to compensate for the fact that I can be more flexible on many small things, I developed a very strong core that is unmovable. Therefore, I would take sometimes a very strong stand and be extremely stubborn about it no matter what is the consequence to keep some form of identity. All of my life, I basically only gave myself two options. Either I cope by repressing my own needs and wants, or bulldoze my needs over others, which then forces me to cope to not care about the resentment of others. It never occurred to me before that there could be a third solution where I could consider a solution where both my needs and the other person needs would be addressed at the same time! It seemed obvious however it never occurred to me until that discussion with Teal. I suddenly realized how much damage this limited belief had done to my life and people close to me. That night, Teal actually put a ribbon around the chime and both of our needs were met easily. We practiced a role-play where we went back to the events where I imposed my needs over her, with this time the desire to consider both of us at the same time. To my surprise, this was actually possible but now it stopped building resentment and built trust instead as I actually showed genuine concern for her best interests. When a need conflict happens, the partners would need to express both of their needs and wants in a vulnerable way and start exploring out a solution together that could work for both. This may seem simple but I had never done this before. It was only either suppressing my needs or discounting the ones of others. It was always a lose-lose. Also, I realized that I used my spiritual practice all of my life to cope. I had become a master at filtering and altering reality, creating positive meaning to painful situations in order to feel better. This pattern runs in my family. My grandmother who is soon 101 year old is the happiest in her nursery home. She is surrounded by people who are dying, miserable and in pain most of the time and she only sees the positive. My father has no real relationship with his children, and a difficult marriage with heavy resentment but thinks his wife is too perfect. By being in denial, and making a painful and unacceptable situation OK, we actually make change impossible. Our filters will stop making reality painful, however unfortunately we then become enablers of very dysfunctional patterns and the repressed negative emotions find their reflection in the immediate environment. If a wife copes with the abuse of her husband, she accepts it and do not then try to change an ugly reality. By coping, adapting to our circumstances and to our world, we actually make things worse instead of better as we allow the dysfunction to continue. This intense realization had come just before the first Kambo ceremony just as the frog had started working on me.
I am now in front of Graciela before we start the Kambo ceremony. She asks me if I have an intention. Kambo is a hard process as the frog poison you absorb makes you vomit and purge in the most unpleasant ways. I call Kambo a mini Ayahuasca as it makes you purge in the same way but the journey lasts only one hour instead of a full night. These are medicines that are hard to get addicted to, as the purging is so unpleasant. I really did not feel at that moment to go through this experience again. I then looked at my present life and I realized the horror of my situation. The 3 people I love the most in this world resent me also the most also: my wife Teal and my 2 children from my previous marriage. I have had a disgruntled wife telling me she is not happy. I had the same situation in my previous marriage. I can feel the love nevertheless of Teal and my two children. I realize in this moment that I could not have dreamt of a more perfect wife. Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have wished for someone like Teal who is so spiritual, smart, beautiful, creative with a grand purpose. My children are also great kids: smart, gifted in so many ways with a big heart. At that moment, I decide to dedicate my Kambo session with Graciela to Love. I am doing this to bring back the flow of Love in my life for these 3 people. In this space, I can finally let go of my fear, take a leap of faith, as I have known for a long time that a life without Love is not worth living. Graciela now asks me to drink 1.5 liters of water. This is not easy and I feel bloated by the water. She then proceeds to burn my skin with a small wooden skin on my heart shakra where she decided to apply the Kambo. While unpleasant, this pain is nothing in comparison to the emotional pain I have just contemplated. She now spread the frog poison on my burns. After less than a minute, my heart starts beating intensely. I see the fear in some of my thoughts that my heart would stop beating. I let go of the resistance. I start vomiting, mostly water, as I fasted in the morning. It feels awful and deeply humbling as I keep purging. Fortunately, after only a couple of minutes, I vomit a core belief from my childhood called “Personne ne n’aime” which means “no one loves me”. It is hard to explain but it feels like this French sentence was physical and I actually spit out from my body at that time. I reflect and see the truth of this statement. I do not mean to put my parents under the bus as they did what they could with what they had. My father did not have parents until he was 10 year old and my mother lost her mum when she was 3 and she does not even remember any contact with her father. Because of their own family traumas, they simply could not give me what I was longing so much for, because they never received it in the first place: love, closeness and nurturing. The belief that “no one loves me” crystallized the harsh reality of how I was feeling as a child and stayed with me for almost the next 40 years. Core beliefs are so strong that your whole reality will actually get organized around them and create misery when it is a limited belief like this one. Following Teal’s core teaching, I stayed with the feeling, became fully present to my inner child holding this belief and validated him. I realized that even my external and worldly success was simply a coping mechanism for the fact I did not think I could be loved for who I was, and only performance could give me love. When I was six, my father gave me money as I brought back straight As from school. Therefore, I thought that if I were a good enough student, I would have love. At age 20, I passed the exam of one of the best school of France but crashed a couple of months after the admission when I realized that this accomplishment would not give me what I was so desperately looking without knowing: love. As a result, I joined a spiritual group, which ended up being a cult a couple of months later as I was desperately trying to find a way out of my emotional torment. I thought this spiritual group was everything I had always looked for. However, I left disillusioned 3 years later after realizing all the corruption and abuse orchestrated from the leader. I had been used and not loved. At 26, I entered a 15-year relationship & marriage, which brought two wonderful children in a course for status, success and money in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, when we mutually decided to part, I was ostracized by my ex wife and her parents and lost my children as a result. At that moment, I saw that my marriage had been more a contract based on mutual benefits than a relationship based on real love. In order for me to heal the child that believes that no one loves him, I need to give him what he truly wants: Love & Appreciation. Even at Philia, I had created a situation where team members would resent me because of my domineering attitudes that were focused on execution rather than connection. I also made it OK for people to resent me as long as they do their job. I have watched Teal do the opposite, something spending up to a full day to solve a problem with a person. I thought initially it was a complete waste of time not realizing she was working on alignment, and once people are fully aligned they will go the extra mile, be proactive and amaze you with the quality of their work. I made a commitment at that moment that it was not OK for me to be resented anymore. I had to stop this especially that our retreat center is based on connection. I felt I understood authenticity for the first time. I cannot be authentic by coping or imposing my needs above others. Instead, I need to focus on a third alternative that can only come through when I interiorize the other person needs. I saw the community too. I saw clearly in my medicine journey that one of our team members with responsibilities had been resentful towards me. To heal my inner child, I became apparent to me I had to stop making it OK for me to be resented. I put my life savings in this property and enormous efforts both for the move and property. I have not done that to get people to resent me. It felt very unfair. While I understood I created this situation to prove the belief “no one loves me”, I had to put a clear stop to this to start healing this destructive belief. I decided to meet with this person the same day. It did not matter anymore how long it would take to solve our difference and I made the commitment to live an environment where I am liked instead of feared. I can still be true to my own needs and their needs at the same time. I committed to do what it takes for people to like me. I have had the attitude that I do not care what people think about it as long as things get done.
Ten days have passed and it is now the time for the second Kambo with Graciela. The positions of the burns are typically intuitively felt by the shaman just before the ceremony. But the night before, I had woken up Teal by talking in my sleep saying very clearly “6 points in the palindrome”. While I did not this before, a palindrome is a word that reads the same backward and forward such as “madam”. While at breakfast, we felt intuitively that it is a message for the Kambo ceremony as “points” are another word for the burn marks used to absorb the frog medicine. Graciela does a Google and tells us that “eye” is the only body part that is a palindrome. This discovery triggers me. After I started dating Teal, I had told her I did not need to take Kambo because she was my medicine. While this is true, the other reason I did not want to do Kambo because it makes marks on the body and all my life, I have been uncomfortable with anything that alters the original nature of the body. Now, they are talking about a burning stick in the eye! Teal asked me to think what it would really mean. I feel intuitively that it must be the third eye however I am thinking that the last thing I want to do is to have burn marks on my forehead especially that I am an important upcoming business meeting in the US. I start to complaint, revolt and state clearly that I do not want to do it. Teal looks at it and she starts experiencing genuine sadness and she shed a couple of tears. She said “How ironic” as, in the same token, I would rather look good than love her. Over the last previous days, we had a couple of arguments where I deflected my shame into her and made her feel like the one with problems while I was actually the one creating the trigger in the first place. During these times, I had chosen to defend my self-concept and look good instead of seeing the truth. I started to feel her pain, disappointment and sadness about me. At that moment, I remember the time where I would have given everything just for the opportunity to have a date with her. I reminded myself of my commitment to remove any wall that stands between me and her, and my promise to her that as long as I can breath, I will always choose to love her. Her Love had defeated me and I accepted reluctantly to get Kambo from my forehead as I reminded myself that my relationship with her is to me so much more important than looking good. I started thinking about wearing a hat, or put my hair in front of the marks to get more comfortable about the idea and get into acceptance with this higher guidance. She re-assures me that she can make them look good. An hour later, I am laying down ready for the application of Kambo, I remind myself of my intention “I want to see” focusing on my 3rd eye chakra. Six burns are applied on my forehead. Shortly after, I experience a faster heartbeat, and I start to emit some tones to clear energy in my throat chakra that is between my heart and third eye. The medicine takes much more time to work on me than the previous session. It took at least ten minutes before the need to purge. Teal is in the room typing on her computer writing her next Ask Teal episode. I reach out to her in a vulnerable to stop doing it, as I really need her undivided attention. This is ironic too as I am typically the one absorbed on my computer tuning other people out. A vision starts coming through. My consciousness becomes Teal as a child on a table. I am in the process of being tortured by Doc. He shows absolutely no empathy like he is working on a robot. I experience unbearable pain. On the other side of Doc comes the spirit of Teal’s mother. She does not see Teal’s pain and push it back onto her not understanding why her daughter is acting so uncontrollably and wondering what is wrong with her. She gets angry with her. Back on the table, I feel like I am made to swallow my own vomit. I am in pain as I purge but I realize suddenly that I am so lucky that I am able to scream or vomit. It feels like such a good release and I receive the loving attention of both Teal and Graciela in the room. When Teal was tortured, she did not have the luxury of any form of release. Doc would put something in her mouth to prevent her from screaming. The torture experienced felt so much more horrific when there is not even a possibility to release and to witness the complete emotional disconnection from Doc. I am now transported into a different mindscape that I see is connected to a vision I had 5 years previously during a breathwork facilitated by Todd Zimmerman (Todd came to Philia from March 11th to 18th 2017). At that time, five years ago, one of the women breathing in the room was reliving a rape she had experienced as a teenager. She yelled from such a profound part of her being that it started to affect me and I relived intuitively a sensation of a past life where I was a father where my father got raped and I made it worse through my own behavior. Now, under Kambo, what was an alluring feeling 5 years ago during that breathwork session appears as a very clear past life in high definition. We are back in time and I am a spiritual teacher in India with an important following. I am a scholar, I hold an impressive spiritual knowledge of the scriptures. I think I know everything, and I have always a response to any of my followers’ questions. My ego is huge and I am full of myself. I am respected and feared, and some of my domineering and inflexible attitudes create antagonism too. Through unfortunate circumstances, my only daughter gets raped by some of my enemies as they try to hurt me through her. I see myself being furious at my daughter telling her how she brought ridicule and dishonor onto our family and my reputation. I shun her and punish her. I make it all her fault. Because of my hardness, cold and cruel behavior, she commits suicide and dies. When my followers inquiry about this tragic event, I tell them with utter certainty as someone believing his own lies, that a life had come where she would awaken so she decided to take the opportunity and exit her body. Deep down, I know I am the one responsible for the death of my only daughter because I kept spreading shame on her open wound. During that life, I never let myself experience consciously the responsibility for her death. From that point on, I went downhill and created a lot of damage among my followers. I see how my cult experience in this life was a direct consequence of this karma. I see clearly who is the reincarnation of my daughter in this life. I experience sincere regrets towards this person and I got to better understand her antagonistic behavior towards me that never seemed to make sense. I experience a desire to make it better, and can now more easily let go of her behavior that I judged as unfair. I understand that lack of empathy is the most dangerous thing of the world. If every one of us could feel each other pain, the world would be so different. Family quarrels, work oppression, crime, wars would end immediately. I decide to make a total commitment to allow myself to feel. I realize that I used the tools of self-development and spirituality to make myself comfortable and avoid pain no matter what are the circumstances and I became a “master coper” as a result. I now consciously choose to feel in full awareness even if it involves pain in order to become fully alive.