You Have to Love

springriver

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

― Louise ErdrichThe Painted Drum

We’re wired to love. We are social animals and we need loving relationships around us in order to feel secure and seen in the world. We also know now from attachment theory that, even as adults, we’re particularly wired to … Click here to continue reading...

Love is Softening

Our hearts are encased in protection, layers of materials like iron or brick that create a fortress around our most sensitive selves. When these material first arrived, they came as friends, for our hearts as young people didn’t know how to rest undefended. We needed to harden in order to survive. But one aspect of growing up means realizing that our greatest strength is what we have become conditioned to believe is our greatest weakness: a softened heart is a wise heart, and it no longer needs the armor it thought it needed to keep it safe.

Safety, as an adult, means dropping the defenses. It means letting those we love into our innermost chambers. It means saying “I don’t know” or “Yes, maybe that as well” instead of being entrenched in one position. It means taking the risk of being vulnerable, which by definition is an undefended state. It … Click here to continue reading...

Caught in the Story

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Our stories form a crystal cave of stalactites and stalagmites in our minds, a cool chamber that seduces us with the promise that if we spend enough time there we will divine our answers. How beautiful this cave looks! How many promises it offers! And how familiar this cave becomes when we’ve spent thousands of hours there seeking safety from the vulnerability of childhood. Each stalactite tells a story. Each stalagmite offer the infinite details that need to be figured out.

It’s very easy to become caught in this cave of stories, to fall prey to the widespread belief of the culture and the intrinsic ego belief that we can solve our anxiety by figuring out the “answers” to the conundrums and riddles that occupy daily, human life. Yet as Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” This means that the … Click here to continue reading...

Deconstructing the Family Story

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One of the essential spokes of the growth and healing wheel is being willing to see our parents clearly. As children, we almost have no choice but to see our parents as infallible heroes and gods, and many people continue to carry these fantasies into adulthood. But if we’re to know ourselves, which is essential to healing ourselves, we need to know where we come from. We need to be able to trace at least some of the lines of our negative patterns back to their origin.

This origin doesn’t always lie with our parents, of course. We are social beings and subject to many other sources of influence; siblings, peers, religion, and education all play a fundamental role in our development (as does temperament, personality type, and learning style). In fact, I’m often surprised and disheartened by how little attention these other factors – like sibling relationships – have … Click here to continue reading...

Two Healing Words

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Last week, I had the blessed opportunity of having a closure session in person with a beautiful woman with whom I’ve worked for almost six years. As we sat face-t0-face (as opposed to screen-to-screen) and the session’s minutes clicked toward the end of our hour together, I told her that I wanted to make sure we had ample time to talk about our work and reflect on her growth over these past six years. She immediately dropped into her heart and, through tears, expressed her gratitude. And then said, “You know, one of the most transformative pieces of our work together is that you normalize everything. I’ve shared every thought and feeling I’ve ever had and you always tells me it’s normal. I’ve shared every struggle with my husband and I leave the session feeling like there’s nothing wrong. I have a feeling that’s why so many people come to … Click here to continue reading...