It may not be from altruism that we allow ourselves to get pulled into another’s story. On the contrary, we may be operating from a position of resistance; from an attitude that other people need something from me and I need to sacrifice something of myself—time, energy, money—for them. With this attitude, I am essentially closed off to their truth, and am acting in the most expedient manner to get away. In actuality, when I listen completely to someone’s story, then I am open to her deeper truth, and when I open myself to that truth, then I am also opening myself to my own deeper truth. With complete, or deep listening, (at the other end of the continuum from shallow listening) the context for her words becomes an amalgam of BOTH her, and my, deeper truths. I let go of my truth as a static, immovable object (truth as Continue reading on Dialoging . . .
. . . have the power to completely disrupt and alter our lives and our sense of the world as we have known it. So much that we may have taken for granted before is shaken up and distorted, including relationships from the most intimate to the most casual. Plans we may have created that mapped out the rest of our existence: the hopes and dreams that crisscross the maps of our lives like rivers and highways, providing the potential and the means to traverse the landscapes of our futures—all these may be instantly swept away in the aftermath of a trauma or major betrayal. These are the events that shake the bedrock of our consciousness, and rock the foundations of our minds; the psychic earthquakes that topple our buildings of safety and security, leaving us lost and bewildered, raw and vulnerable. These are the events that strip us completely Continue reading The traumatic events of our lives . . .
To the degree that I operate out of my jail of fear, I correspondingly will limit your ability to move. I will constrain you as I am constrained. That is the only way I can justify and tolerate my own limitations. To the extent I liberate myself from my jail, or widen its boundaries so I have more space to grow, I will correspondingly increase yours as well. I will do this so that I can play and interact with you; exchange ideas and be stimulated. This process is seductive. The more I grow, the more I need you to grow so that I can bounce ideas off of you. The more I grow, the more I accomplish, but I need you to grow so you can appreciate my accomplishments. The more I grow, the more I can love, but then I need you to grow in love so that Continue reading As I grow, so do my relationships . . .
… truth is not a noun, but a verb. It is not an object with fixed, measurable properties, but rather a process—one that describes an on-going action of growing insight, and of developing inner awareness. Life is obviously not something we engage in after we have it all figured out. On the contrary, truth describes the process by which we traverse our way through life. The obstacles and difficulties we encounter mirror precisely those areas that demand our attention. They tell us exactly where we need to truth. [excerpt p. 12]
A Father is Not a Word A father is not a word, or a label. Not a noun, a thing, or an object. A father is not dismissed, or easily missed. Nor dispensable or defeatable. A father is not biologically created, nor biologically creates. He comes not into being from force, but from love strongly desired. It is not his power over others that sustains him, but rather his power over himself. Control is the power that keeps him steadfast, rather than lord over others. His strength does not intimidate others, but keeps his love focused. His love is for himself, as much as it is for others; for it is not a love that desires and craves, but rather one that nurtures and cares. A father is more than a physical presence, for his mind, his heart, and his spirit are dedicated to the ones who look up to Continue reading Reflections on Fatherhood
One of my own great journeys into healing occurred as the result of getting cancer. While not a particularly fun period in my life, it certainly was very instrumental in deepening my awareness both of myself and of others whose lives were dramatically altered by such intrusive events. My illness impacted all areas of my life and my being—physically, emotionally and spiritually—and the subsequent healing process brought the realization that illness has the power to move us into greater wholeness. It also laid the foundation for understanding the struggles other people encounter in dealing with illness. Preface.
Real listening is a dynamic involvement between two people. It is a type of intimate relationship. When somebody tells me her story, whether it is the first time of her telling or not, it is as though she is trying on a piece of clothing: She needs to know how it fits, how it looks to herself and to others, how she feels in it, how it may transform her, what other accessories she might need to complement it, how she can embellish it, who she can trust to give her feedback. Is her dress true? Is her story true? Is it perhaps that the truth lies as much beneath the dress as it does beneath the details of the story? If she is trying on her dress for me, what does she truly wish to hear: is it about the dress, or rather a deeper issue of her sense Continue reading Real listening
The ones so transformed are in actuality many of us. Illness is a hand that can reach deep down into the recesses of our soul, pulling up more of its existence into our awareness. In so doing, we become greater than we were, because we realize there is so much more to us than we had previously thought. In the early 1980s, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. At the time, I was in my last quarter of classes in my graduate program. I was forced to drop school and drop work. Recovery became my full time job. The discovery of my illness was a terrific blow. After all, this was—according to my thinking then—one of those things that happened only to other people, but certainly not to me. There was no room for it in my plans. There was no room for it in my psyche; no frame of Continue reading Recovery became my full time job . . .
When we define truth as a noun—a rigid, fixed object—then any story (information, facts, beliefs, and so on) that either does not fit into, or does not find some counterpart or correlate within our own system, gets categorically rejected. At this point, those boundaries that define the limits of our truth become reinforced. And so does the separation between me/us and others. In this situation, how open can I—as an individual—be toward friends and strangers? How open can I—as a mental health worker—be toward my clients? How open can any of us—in whatever role(s) we play—be toward those we interact with daily on personal and professional bases? [p. 4]
This was the scene that finally caused Bette to fall out of character. To say she was shocked is not excessive. Her demeanor completely changed, and she fell into a stunned silence that seemed to endure for an eternity. It was too short of a moment to digest all that this meant to her: the childhood years of pain and agony she had had to endure at the whim of others; the neglect she endured when her parents were away and the abuse she suffered when they were present; the long and hard fought resolve that despite all that she desired and was denied, she was going to fight past everyone and get ahead. After years of patient scheming and calculating, with victory all but in her hands, she heard the words that swept all her dreams under a steamroller. All her artifice visibly collapsed. It was too big of Continue reading Falling out of character . . .