I'm lukewarm about vaccines - increasingly so, as I see how much effort is going into trying to kill the debate about them. I believe as much information should be put out there as possible, from both sides, and then people should be left to choose for themselves which path to follow.
A funny thing happened on my other site when I tried to put up this video from Physicians for Informed Consent on vaccines - it totally disappeared, and took half my blog post with it. Repeatedly. So, I'm doing an experiment to see if I was having an issue on my other website, or whether there is something happening with the video itself.
If you see it below, you'll know which one it was. And if you don't see it below, go to: physiciansforinformedconsent. org/videos, and take a look yourself.
There are some healers who chart a path towards their desired goal, and who then spend many years acquiring the education and knowledge they need to start helping people with their health and happiness. I think it’s safe to say that this is definitely the prevalent model in West.
But that’s not the way Herschel Lazaroff started doing what he’s come to call ‘kosher healing’. When Herschel first got in touch with me, I asked him for some rabbinic references before I’d be happy to do a write up on his unique healing approach.
He emailed me back a whole bunch of names, including:
Rabbi Avraham Osdoba, Rabbi Mendel Feldman of Baltimore, Rabbi Shmulevitz, a Dayan in The Fallsburg Yeshiva, the Biala Rebbe, Rabbi Pinchus Rabbinowitz, Rabbi Yaacov Breitowitz of Ohr Samayach, Yerushalayim and Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Morgenstern.
If Herschel’s approach is good enough for them, then it’s plenty good enough for me, too, and I settled in to learn more about kosher healing, and the person behind it.
Herschel was learning physics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor when he had something of an epiphany, and realized that “academia was not my ultimate purpose. After I spent two more years running a marketing company, I decided to study psychology, and ended up writing my thesis on how people can actually reach their potential,” he explains. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was to become the basis of what I am doing now, ~42 years later."
In 1976, Herschel started to draw closer to Chabad chassidut, and in 1978 the late Lubavitcher Rebbe responded to a letter Herschel sent him by inviting him to become his follower. After a few years in the healthy food business, including offering New Yorkers their first taste of 100% kosher and organic whole wheat challah, and introducing more soy-based products to the US, in 1991 Hershel started to move out of food, and more towards well-being.
“In 1991, I started the Healthy Strategies for Successful Living program for inmates in the maximum and medium security prisons in Woodbourne, New York,” he says. “Then in 1994, I started what was going to become Energy Resonant Transference (ERT), and then a year later I created The Centre For the Advancement of Creativity and Human Potential.” But it was only a couple of years later, that Herschel got the ‘push’ to start doing his healing work full time.
He explains what happened, to catapult him on to his new path in life:
“My wife, Chana, works in pediatrics. In the late 1990s, she started teaching and facilitating Health Kinesiology (HK), and I attended many of the workshops and training sessions with her. We were at a conference in Vermont when the big, life-altering revelation occurred.”
Herschel’s attention was drawn to a sign which read: Have Your Aura Read. A couple of minutes later, Herschel was hooked up to a biofeedback device that took a picture of his aura, which was then printed off for the lady who owned the machine to interpret.
“She said, "I've never seen anyone whose entire being is healing energy, you have very powerful thoughts and you are a good teacher.” Shortly afterwards, Chana had a kinesiology clinic in the Chassidic community of Tosh, near Montreal, Canada, and Herschel successfully dealt with the extras. That really marked the beginning of his new career, and his new approach to healing, which he came to call ERT, or Energy Resonant Transference.
“Everything that exist contains a soul, or nefesh and vibrates at a unique and specific frequency,” he explains. “When someone is taught how to pick up these signal – or when they are ‘pre-wired’ to tune in to them, like I am, you can interpret them. Technically speaking, ERT works by taking in and giving over information that the soul then processes, and turns into biochemical and neural chemical reactions and processes that are directly related to healing.”
Herschel says that he’s developed an intricate, 28 step mechanism that he calls a ‘Kabbalisic Holistic Algorithm’ that permits him to tune into people’s spiritual DNA, which he defines as their character traits.
“One of the major components why ERT works so well is because it helps to remove negative subconscious blocks, and takes the "charge" out of past traumas,” he explains. When an interaction or traumatic event sticks, you get a block. – and ERT removes blocks!”
But then he says– and this is part of what I love about interviewing Herschel about his approach - “Hashem heals! I am only the facilitator. People still need to do their homework and be consistent, but my entire process works totally as a function of Torah. This is Torah based healing.”
If a health practitioner doesn’t make sure to tell you that the real healing is coming from God at least once during your session with them, you should probably find someone else to treat you. So now, I have to know: Does ERT work well for everyone?
“Some people respond better than others,” he says. There are four different types of souls, which broadly match up with the four basic learning styles, namely:
In my work, I translate these four types as the:
“Do you have some real-life stories you can give me?” I ask him.
“Many. I worked with a famous healer in New York who had apparently untreatable breast cancer. A week after I started doing ERT with her over the phone, her tumor reduced 50% and she was totally clean after seven weeks without the need of radiation. There was another couple in the Bay Area who’d tried to conceive for 18 years, after having a miscarriage in the beginning of their marriage. Within two weeks the woman was pregnant.”
Herschel goes on to tell me about the 11 year old with ADD who was in a special-needs school who improved so much that within two years, he was getting As and Bs without needing a tutor of additional resource work. Then, he tells me about a boy he helped after he’d been locked down in a psych ward, where the doctors had tried every drug under the sun and shock therapy to try to drag him out of his catatonic state. “Within one hour, he was up and dancing around the ward with me,” recalls Herschel. “After seven sessions he went to a rehab program and was 95% better in six months.”
Then, there is the famous Jewish reggae singer who managed to land a $9 million record deal with Sony, and a botched knee surgery that got totally turned around. And then there’s this story, which Herschel describes as being fresh out the oven.
“I was doing some shopping in a local store last week when a woman approached me and said: ‘Are you Herschel the healer?’ I said I was, and then she asked me: ‘Do you recognize me?’ I was honest, and said no. The woman continued: ‘I came to you a year and a half ago, about two years after my divorce. I was at the lowest point in my life, and I felt terrible, and extremely in the dumps. Since then, I lost 100 pounds and all my clients say I am one of the happiest and together people they know now! You encouraged me and told me I was worthwhile and even pretty. You changed my life forever! I cannot thank you enough."
At the heart of Herschel’s approach is the belief that with some training, with some assistance, and with a strong connection to God, the human body can be taught how to produce every bio and neuro-chemical required for its own healing.
“When a person is sufficiently spiritually attuned, there is no biochemical the human body can’t make,” he observes. “It just needs to be given some direction.”
I was talking to someone recently who is fiercely independent, and very resistant to asking anyone for help.
She knows how she got like this: She had a difficult, chaotic childhood when there was never a caring, mature adult around to help her out of the myriad problems, fears and challenges that each of us goes through as a child.
So she learned: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
And that’s served her pretty well, up until this stage of life, when to cut a long story short, she’s cracking at the seams, and she can’t do everything by herself anymore. These days, she really needs to start asking for help, at least within her immediate family – but she still can’t.
This situation is starting to cause a lot of problems and tensions between my friend and her husband and grown-up kids, because they got used to the version of her that never needs any help. So now, even when she does ask, they aren’t really taking her requests so seriously, they aren’t ‘trained’ to respond, they forget, they get busy with other people, other priorities.
Which is reinforcing the mother’s existing belief system, namely: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
But now, she really needs help, so the resentment is rising and rising in the home.
I suggested she take a look at the Connection book by Efim Svirsky, and she came across an exercise that really spoke to her, about trying to connect to the ‘child who can’t question’.
That kid is so overwhelmed by fear, it can’t even frame the problem into words.
She did the exercise, and came up with a stunning insight as to where that inability to ask for help actually came from, which I have her permission to share with you.
As mentioned, she had a very chaotic childhood.
There was a lot of absentee parenting, a lot of emotional neglect, and also a heavy dose of verbal abuse that sometimes turned violent. It wasn’t really bad enough for social services to get involved – but it could have been. And as a young teen, my friend was old enough to be worrying about what would happen if ‘outsiders’ find out how crazy it really is in my home?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she was struggling in school. There was no-one to encourage her to do her homework, no-one to get her to show up on time. Yet, whenever she was hauled into the principal’s office for a talking to, she always concocted a fantastic web of lies, to provide a diversion to what was really going on behind closed doors.
The dog she didn’t have was always eating her homework, the train was always late, the bus always developed a flat tyre….
Of course, the principal didn’t buy all this, but as my friend didn’t back down from her lies, she had no choice but to ‘go along’ with the deceit, and to try to relate to her from that place.
So, my friend was going through the Connection exercise, when suddenly that scene with the principal popped into her head, and she suddenly realized why she could never ask for help:
Because she could never truthfully describe what the real problem was.
The real problem was not that she was disorganized, didn’t care about her school work, lacked motivation, kept losing her travelcard. The real problem is that she came from a totally dysfunctional family that sapped all her energy and organization as soon as she stepped over the threshold of her house. And she wasn’t about to open that can of worms up to anyone, in case social services got involved.
So, she lied about her homework, lied about what happened to her PE kit, lied about all the emotional dysfunction and chaos swirling around at home. And the help that was offered to her was always dealing with the ‘lie’ of what the problem actually was, as opposed to the truth – so it was essentially worthless.
It wouldn’t solve the real problem, because my friend couldn’t express it.
In the exercise, she went back to that time in the principal’s office, and for the first time in her life, she told the truth. She wasn’t lazy, disorganized, rebellious – anything but! She was struggling to keep things together in some very challenging circumstances.
And there was no ‘help’ that the principal could give her, because that help ran the risk of getting social services involved, which was a massive childhood fear for my friend.
After she completed the exercise, she told me she felt a huge weight roll off her. Now, she finally understood why she has such a hard time really asking for help – because she can’t truthfully articulate her needs.
Telling the truth about what’s going wrong, what’s overwhelming, has always been too scary for her. But now, just maybe, the door has creaked open for that to start to change.
For more on Efim Svirksy and his excellent book Connection, go HERE.
Twenty years ago, when I was a young woman working for Her Majesty’s British Government, I had a colleague who was two decades older than me, who joined the civil service press department the same time I did.
I mostly liked my job, at least at that point, she mostly hated hers.
So I asked her: “Why don’t you quit, then? And go and find a job that you’ll enjoy more?”
I found her answer shocking, even then. She told me:
“The pension is so good here, I’m just going to sit it out, until I retire.”
“But you aren’t going to retire for another 25 years!” I tried to argue.
Pointlessly, as it turned out, as no matter how bad the job was, how much it dragged her down and made her life feel soulless and empty, she was going to carry on doing it for a whole other half a lifetime, just to get a good pension.
In the meantime, I left the civil service – and all its fat perks and benefits – two years later, and my life has been anything but stable, safe and predictable since.
True, my friend probably has a much better pension than I do, at this stage (assuming the stress of being in a job she hated didn’t kill her a long time ago.)
But also true, that there is so much more to life than taking decisions just to stay safely embedded in the comfort zone.
Ah, the comfort zone.
So many of us think we’re striving for that, so many of us believe that the goal of life is to be comfortable.
I also had a bit of that going on still, until recently, when I had three months with no major drama, no major challenge, no big project to get my teeth into, nothing to exercise my brain cells or my praying abilities.
And you know what?
I was totally and utterly miserable.
I know, crazy isn’t it!
It took me a while to figure that out myself, because isn’t being ‘comfortable’ and having ‘stability’ what we’re all taught is the holy grail of being alive? Yet for me, as each stable, predictable, comfortable day passed on, I couldn’t get over the feeling that I’d somehow just flushed another 24 of my precious hours down the spiritual toilet, somehow.
Sure, I had nice chocolate to eat. A comfy bed to sleep in. Enough money to put petrol in the car and go somewhere, and enough time to actually do it.
But so what?
It was utterly and totally meaningless, and I didn’t come back from these days out feeling refreshed and happy. I came back feeling empty and pointless.
After a couple of weeks of this, I started to realise something profound:
It’s the comfort zone that’s killing us.
All of us, not just me.
How many of us are playing safe all the time, scared to offend, scared to step out of line, scared to try something different or be the person God really made us to be, because we’re scared of what comes next?
I.e., potentially being dragged out of comfort zone?
Maybe, if we stop playing it safe, we’ll end up having a real conversation for once, instead of all the fake, pointless inanity that passes for modern “discussion.”
How dangerous is that?!?
Maybe, we’ll discover that we hate our jobs, our lifestyle, certain people we hang out with, and that we really need to change things – in a big way – to start to feel happy and fulfilled again.
Again, that’s scary stuff, isn’t it?
But this is the actual fibre, the stuff of life. All those dangers, big and small, all those challenges, all those adventures, and discoveries and hard decisions.
This is what makes us really feel alive.
Sure, there’s a healthy balance to be achieved. No-one wants to be pinging from one self-induced crisis to another, like an Olympic bungee jumper.
But the other extreme, where we just wrap ourselves up in cotton wool, and make planning holidays and supper the most exciting part of our daily routine, is just as bad for us, it turns out.
It’s spiritual chloroform. It puts us to sleep slowly, slowly, until we spend so much time as screen- watching, comfort-craving zombies we don’t even realise how much life we’re really wasting.
The comfort zone is killing us.
I know it’s scary outside, but it’s also alive, and invigorating, and purposeful, and meaningful and real.
At least every now and then, we have to stick a foot out, and follow the path less travelled.
Otherwise, like my ex-colleague, we can spend the best part of three decades treading
water and wasting our time doing things we hate, living in places that don’t suit us, and trying to hide all our internal misery with ‘busy-ness’ and holidays to Marbella.
Your soul is calling you out of the comfort zone. That’s where you’ll really find yourself. That’s where you’ll really find God.
And that’s really where the pure stuff of life is located.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been very ‘subliminally stressed’. There could be a lot of reasons for that, not least the space weather connection, which can cause us to feel mega-stressed physically even when our own life is going swimmingly.
But the ‘why’ is not the focus of this post, but rather, the problems it was causing me, and how I finally managed to start getting on top of it.
So, I was very stressed and tense, and that was causing a couple of the bones in my chest to start aching, and to feel very sore, whenever I pressed them. That low-level pain was in turn stressing me out, as I kept getting worried that something was going on, health-wise.
And so, a vicious circle started up, where the stress was causing the bones in my chest to ache, and the continuous aching was contributing quite a bit to my feeling stressed.
I tried using Sujok seed therapy, where I put some red lentils on the part of my hand that corresponded to the aching part of my body. When the pain is energetic in nature, this nearly always clears it up very fast – but not this time.
I tried it for 2-3 nights in a row, and while it took the immediate edge off the problem, it didn’t really shift it. So then, I tried some aromatherapy – some lemon, some lavender, something relaxing. Again, same result: it took the problem down by maybe 5%, but didn’t really touch it. Ditto with the Rescue Remedy. Ditto with taking some long walks, and doing some other stretching exercises to get the body’s energy to start moving around.
It all helped a little, but nothing was really solving the problem.
So over the weekend, on the Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, I was talking to God about what was going on with all the pain I was experiencing in my chest, when the ‘answer’ popped into my head that I should go and take a book called Connection off my shelf, and try that.
The more you talk to God on a regular basis, the more you’ll start to trust these otherwise random-seeming flashes of inspiration.
Connections is a book written by psychologist Efim Svirsky, and around six years ago, I used it, and the visualisations it contains, a great deal, and found them very helpful. Then, I moved on to other things, like Sujok, and energy medicine, and moved away from a lot of the visualizations stuff.
But there I was, with the book in my hands, and I opened it up ‘randomly’, and got to the page where Efim describes a hypothetical problem of someone having a recurrent pain in the chest (!) that just won’t go away. In his exercise called ‘The Inner Dialogue’, he basically describes how you first go into deep relaxation, and then address the ‘block’ or pain directly, along the following lines:
First, relax your body thoroughly – lie or sit comfortably, and preferably alone, in a safe space somewhere, and go through every part of your body, consciously relaxing it.
Next, imagine a pure beam of light from God – the light of the Creator of the World – shining down on you, and passing through your body. Make a note of any places where the light can’t pass through, where it is ‘blocked’ or ‘dark’.
If you have more than one block, you can ask God to give you a clue as to which one to work on first.
Go wherever your attention is drawn.
Now, you need to speak to this block / pain / darkness and ask it why it’s there, what it’s purpose is.
What color is it? What shape? What size?
Efim cautions that you shouldn’t try to censor your thoughts, or force the issue. The ‘answer’ will usually just pop into your brain naturally, all by itself. If you aren’t given a clear answer, you can keep talking to the block, asking for more information.
Once you realise this, ask yourself where this next ‘block’ is located – where is the darkness, the pain, the block that is stopping God’s light from passing through your body?
When you find that new block, repeat the process, and start asking it why it is there, and what it thinks its job is. Because those blocks come, because they think they are trying to ‘help’ us in someway, to deal with something that otherwise we would find overwhelming, painful, scary or upsetting in some way.
Once you start to get answers, you can then ask the block to leave.
Often, that’s enough to start the healing process off, but not always. So then, what do you do next?
In his book, Connection, Efim has many other exercises and visualisations, but after years of doing this stuff, I wanted to share with you what I call the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I’ll explain how this works by describing what happened to me, when I started doing this exercise on the energy ‘block’ / pain I was experiencing in my chest.
I asked the block why it was there, and it told me it had come to protect me from feelings of extreme anxiety. I’d had those feelings before, around 10 years ago, and they were so intense, I nearly went stark, raving bonkers.
So, Efim’s advice to ‘feel the feelings underneath’ wasn’t going to work for me in this situation.
I could visualize the block as a huge, black slab of anxiety that had kind of wedged itself across the full length of my thorax. But I didn’t know how to get rid of it myself, which is when I turned to the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I called up my saint, or Tzaddik, of choice (I like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, but use whoever speaks to you) – and asked him to deal with getting rid of the block.
He dislodged it in a second, smashed it into smithereens, then blew everything away with a gale force hurricane. A couple of hours after I did that visualization, I realized the pain is 90% gone. It’s still a little sore – mostly because I’ve been pressing that spot hard for a few weeks, to see if it still hurts – but the energetic pain that was causing the problem has disappeared.
So, if you have a pain or an ache that isn’t going away no matter what you try, I highly recommend trying this exercise. You can buy Efim’s book HERE, or come up with your own version of this visualization.
If you do it as part of your talking to God sessions, and you make use of the Saintly Shortcut, I’m sure you’ll see some sterling results, even if you’re not doing it exactly the way prescribed by Efim.
And yet again, the whole episode showed me how body, mind and soul are so totally intertwined when it comes to health, and how we need to tackle health problem across all three levels, to really find a lasting solution.
That’s the approach I advocate in my book Talk to God and Fix Your Health, and it’s good God decided to remind me about it this weekend!
Because it really does work.
Over the last few years, I’ve been having an ongoing ‘discussion’ with my teens about the limits of being able to do what they want.
I’ve noticed that a lot of parents seem to be ducking the whole issue of teaching teens how to figure out healthy compromises with other people by adopting two maxims, namely:
While I can understand that attraction of both these things in theory, in practice they really don’t work to create healthy, open relationships with teens. Let me try to give an example from my own real life, to see if I can show you why that is.
The last few years, both my teens have been driving me bonkers with their ‘staying out all night’ habits. I have a lot of fears, most of which are not rational, so when my kids stay out late, I get nervous about them.
I often can’t sleep until they come home, so when they decide to come home at 2, 3 or even 4 in the morning, that’s a real problem for me, and it fundamentally affects my life. When I don’t get enough sleep, my brain doesn’t function so well, I start to feel ‘out of it’, and if it continues on for too long, it also has a real impact on my physical health.
So if that’s happening every night, or even most nights, it quickly leads us all into a very sticky situation.
Is my need to have my teenage kids in the house by 11pm at night reasonable?
But not always.
Is their need to be out very light at night multiple times a week reasonable?
But not never.
So, over the past few years, me and my children have been steadily working our way up to a compromise situation, where I let them have two nights a week where they can be out later, and I do my best to minimize my psycho tendencies to keep texting them every half an hour to make sure they’re OK.
There’s been some fine-tuning required as we go along. For example, I stipulated in our discussions that the two days shouldn’t be back-to-back unless there are extenuating circumstances (like two ‘can’t miss this’ events back to back); and recently, I also had to add another stipulation that the two ‘late nights’ should be on the same days for both kids, so I don’t end up having to deal with 4 sleepless nights a week on my end of things.
We’ve had a lot of blow-ups and heated arguments leading up to this place of compromise. Initially, the problem was mostly on my side of the equation, as I wanted the kids home at 11pm every single night, regardless of what was going on, or how important it was for them to be there.
That’s an example of my house, my rules, but I quickly learnt that if I tried to apply that indiscriminately to my children, I’d end up doing terrible damage to our relationship, and I’d also just be living with an awful atmosphere at home, 24/7.
Then, one of the kids went through a very rebellious stage (as a reaction to a lot of very difficult things we were going through, as a family) – and started staying out until 4am davka.
In effect, she was living according to: ‘her house, her rules’, and it was very hard for everyone else to cope with it.
After a few months, and a lot of praying (and a lot of figuring out where I needed to apologise to my kid for contributing to the things that had made her so unhappy to be in the house), we were finally ready to get to the next stage, which was to work on our house, our rules.
Which is a very different beast, because instead of having one person acting like a domestic dictator, this version tries its best to listen to all point of views, and to come up with a compromise situation that is acceptable to all parties.
Part of doing that was to sit down, and tell the kid:
Kid, I get you need to go out. But, you need to get that when you go out, I don’t sleep, and if that happens too much, I get exhausted, and even ill. So, let’s sit down and figure out how we can arrange things so we both give way a little, and everyone is happy.
This is a tremendous skill for life.
And it’s one that the kids who grow up in an atmosphere of ‘my house, my rules’ just aren’t being taught.
So the pressure continues to build in the home, until the parents pack their children off to boarding school, or university, or the army, or for a trip around the world where the kid can ‘indulge’ all the things they wanted to do at home, but couldn’t.
And that’s a big part why so many people go completely off the deep end, in so many ways, when they finally leave the parental home.
Because there is no ‘limit’ to butt up against, and their evil inclination is pushing them to throw all caution to the wind, and to over-indulge in all those things they wanted to do at home, but couldn’t.
I’m not just talking about drinking alcohol, smoking, doing drugs, and other types of obvious ‘vices’. Clearly, lacking healthy boundaries, and being unable to police our own appetites and urges and crazy ideas to just not sleep for three days straight and only eat Haagen Daz for breakfast is not a healthy situation to be in, long term.
But the bigger problem is that these kids are being taught a very unhealthy paradigm of how to manage human relationships and disagreements which you can basically sum up as:
The winner takes all.
Whoever can impose their will on the other – whoever can make the biggest drama, the biggest threats, whoever is in a position of ‘power and authority’, that person can impose their will on the other person 100%.
And if you aren’t that person? Then you can expect to get totally crushed for as long as you are in that unhealthy relationship.
How can we resolve this problem?
Most of this attitude is being learnt in homes where ‘my house, my rules’ is strictly policed, with very little empathy for the kids’ point of view, or compassion for their different needs and wants.
The more a parent can ‘see’ and ‘hear’ where their kid is coming from, the more the lines of communication between parent and child will be kept open, and the greater the chances that a workable, healthy compromise will be found.
The paradigm shifts from my house, my rules, to OUR HOUSE, OUR RULES.
And that's so much better, for everyone involved.
Being able to have compassion and empathy for another person is the basis of good mental health. If we can really show our kids how that’s done – when we’re the ones in the position of ‘power and authority’ – that’s probably the biggest gift, and most useful life skill, we can give them.
And as an added bonus, our kids will hopefully still enjoy being in our homes (at least for visits!) and still enjoy our company well after they are 18 and independent.
All of us grew up on those fairy stories that involved an enchanted royal person being turned into some sort of frog, or toad, and who required their true love – usually another good-looking prince or princess – to rescue them by giving them a kiss.
As soon as that happened – voila! Instant hunk, instant supermodel, with impeccable manners, a great dress sense and daddy’s enormous fortune and 58 estates in the country.
But even in the middle of all those ridiculous fairy tales, there is a nub of truth, and something useful that we can prise out, and use to our own emotional and spiritual advantage.
Because today, all of us are walking around believing that really?
We’re a reptile.
We’re a frog.
We’re a toad.
Doesn’t matter how things look on the outside, deep-down on the inside, we think we’re green, ugly and cursed.
But that’s not true.
The famous Jewish mystic Rebbe Nachman of Breslov wrote a whole tale about a Lost Princess – i.e. the soul of every single one of us – and the trials and tribulations that each of would face, before we could rescue her from the palace of ‘no good’ and restore her to her rightful place.
So now, here’s where we going to mix things up in an interesting way, because a few weeks’ ago, I discovered an excellent potential short-cut to that whole ‘finding the lost princess’ process.
Before I tell you more about it, I just want to underline something:
Visualisations like the one I’m going to share with you work best when they’re done from a place of deep honesty. There are a lot of people out there who deep down believe they are a frog, but try to pretend that superficially, they’ve already found their lost princess (or prince).
The following visualization probably won’t work so well for them, because the key to getting it to work is transforming the frog into the princess / prince.
But if a person can’t accept that they really are relating to themselves as a frog in the first place, they can’t really do that.
It’s a staged process:
THE KISSING-THE-FROG VISUALISATION
It’s always best to do these visualisations in a place where you feel safe and secure, and where you won’t be interrupted by people or phones.
Think about your ‘inner frog’, and try and bring it to mind. What colour is it? How big is it? What is it sitting on, what is it doing?
Next, describe its behavior:
This is an angry frog.
It’s a spiteful frog.
It’s an ungrateful frog.
It's a lonely frog.
It's a scared frog.
It's a self-hating frog.
Now, walk over to that frog, and give it a kiss. (You can also give it a hug, and say kind words to it – whatever comes to you.)
Now, watch it transform into your lost princess.
If that doesn’t happen, ask your frog what’s blocking the transformation, and pay careful attention to the answer, as for sure it’ll be a big clue about what you may need to continuing work on, or some other insight you hadn’t realized before.
You can repeat this visualization as often as you want, until you finally get that frog to transform into the true princess / prince that’s really inside each one of us.
But as mentioned above, the key to pulling the transformation off is to stay alert for the ‘warts’ each time they surface. Acknowledge them, deal with them, then transform them. But whatever you do, don’t just ignore them and carry on pretending you’re perfect and have nothing else to fix or work on.
We’re all down here to work on improving our character.
With no exceptions.
When we’re little, everything in the world seems so much ‘bigger’ than it actually really is. How many times have we returned to a place we used to frequent as a child that used to seem so much larger than life when we were little, only to find it strangely shrunken down into nothing so special?
That ‘big-ness’ we experience is part of the magic of childhood, in some ways, but it can also lead to some big issues as adults, if we were never taught how to handle the ‘big-ness’ of our problems and fears by a caring adult.
A kid, left to themselves and their own imagination, will always imagine the worst, and fear the worst.
If a parent is late returning one night, and there is no caring adult on hand to help the kid express what’s bothering them, and then to teach them how to ‘self soothe’ and to manage their feelings of anxiety down, that kid will spend the whole night fearing the parent got murdered on the way home, God forbid.
(I had this fear a lot, as a kid, and then when I was a mum, it transferred itself to worrying about my kids, and I’ve had to do a whole bunch of work on it, for years, to shrink it down to anything approaching ‘manageable’.)
Or, say the kid has a headache. If they aren’t given the help required to really acknowledge that pain in a calm way, they’ll start fantasizing that they’ve got a brain tumor, God forbid, or some other serious and potentially fatal illness.
All the hypochondriacs out there, this is how it got started!
The ‘big’ fears and anxieties we had in childhood were never calmed down, explained away, soothed or shrunk by the adults in our lives, so our childhood brain took over the job of providing the commentary on what was really happening – and it made even the smallest mole hills seem like the biggest mountains.
So now, we’re adults. And now, life is full of issues and problems and challenges at every turn. And it’s full of yucky, spiteful and difficult people. And unreasonable expectations.
And we’re still trying to deal with all this stuff with the childish, primitive part of our brain that is completely overwhelmed by the ‘big-ness’ of everything it has to deal with and process.
So how does it react to all this?
It over-reacts. It goes ballistic at the drop of a hat. It runs away from every hint of a problem, or freezes up and goes blank, or reaches for the bottle, or the pills, or the internet.
And that’s totally understandable. But it’s not the ideal way of dealing with the challenges of life, especially if you actually want to be able to have calm, loving and nurturing relationships with other people, and to feel happy, satisfied and coping.
So what’s the answer?
At its most basic, it’s this: Try to make as many thing as possible ‘no big deal’.
To put this another way, it’s the art of trying to relate to life as an adult, and not from the mindset of a scared and anxious small child.
And this is really going to take some work, believe me.
Especially in today’s politically-correct world, where making things into a big deal has been raised to an art form.
But here’s what you should know about all those yucky people who are so quick to start escalating small mistakes, small mis-judgements, small errors into the biggest of ‘big deals’:
They are very immature personalities.
They literally never grew up. They are still stuck in a world-view that was formed in early childhood, and that has never expanded, developed or matured since.
And this is how crazy people think.
And we can’t let ourselves get caught up in that warped, dramatic, OTT view of things.
So, we forgot someone’s birthday, and they are going ballistic. It was a mistake, and mistakes happen. The upset person also sometimes forget important dates and events. This is actually not such a big deal.
So, you don’t want to invite a particular person to your dinner party. You don’t have to always invite them to your events and functions. It’s ok to see other people, mix in other groups. This is actually not such a big deal.
So, my kid didn’t get into the right school, or didn’t want to go to college, or wants to go around the world for a year, against my will. This is actually not such a big deal.
Ditto, for that weird ache you keep getting in your shoulder, ditto that you can’t afford to live in the neighborhood you really like, ditto that your latest project at work was a massive failure.
Stuff happens all the time that we don’t like, and that inconveniences us and upsets us and that can make life stressful and miserable for us.
This is life.
But the key to going with the flow, and coping, and still feeling happy most of the time, is to just keep playing down the things that are occurring, and to approach life as much as possible as a grown-up.
It’s not easy, it takes a lot of practice, and a lot of getting God involved in the process of trying to ‘grow ourselves up’, but the benefits are so tremendous. If you don’t know where to start, go HERE to take a look at all the articles and practical tips I’ve put up about C-PTSD.
I know, so many of us are addicted to that drama and excitement and rush of experiencing everything as ‘big’. And there is still a place for ‘big’ in our lives.
Just not at other people’s expense.
And not at the expense of our own peace of mind and health and happiness.
We can’t keep squandering all the energy required for a huge response on all those myriad, day-to-day small things. Because energy is finite, and there are far better things we could be using it for.
A little while ago, I was having a chat with a friend when she said something that instantly triggered me into ‘fight’ mode. Before I even knew what was going on, I found myself arguing, feeling upset, and generally having that yucky inner feeling that happens when you’ve been tripped-back into a flashback.
I apologized while I was actually having the reaction, and I acknowledged something deep was going on, on my side of the fence, that I needed to go away and look at.
(We often can’t help getting triggered into flashbacks. If we’re around people who are triggering us a lot, that usually means those people aren’t so good for us, and we shouldn’t spend a lot of time with them. But occasionally, even nice people who we have good relationships with can set off a FIGHT / FLIGHT / FREEZE / FAWN response.)
So, I came off that call, and I started wondering to myself:
What on earth just happened there? Why’d I get so upset?
My friend had told me some information that she’d heard from someone else – a speaker – that she really related to, but which sounded plain wrong to me. I went to check up the facts, first of all, and nothing I turned up suggested the speaker’s facts were correct.
That’s not so unusual, especially in our world of ‘fake news’. So, why did I take it so hard?
After doing some more digging, I realized that the subject we’d been talking about is something I’ve discussed quite a bit with my friend, and that I’ve had ‘opinions’ on – opinions that clearly she doesn’t so like, or really agree with.
So, when she quoted this speaker to me, who appeared to be saying things that contradict some of what I’ve given over, I took it as a personal attack. Not consciously, but subconsciously. I got ‘triggered’ into that childhood attitude of being the kid that no-one listened to, the kid that people mocked and bullied, the kid that had strange ideas that were just too ‘out there’.
Ok, this was useful. So now, what do I do with the piece of information? I had a chat to God about it, and I got this back:
Rivka, you feel like a loser when you get the impression that people are ignoring what you say, or trying to make you ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.
Of course, this happens a lot, because so much of what I write is not standard, and often doesn’t conform to the ‘normal’ view of things. Being criticized for holding different views is par for the course if you’re going to write about anything – anything at all – that’s really meaningful to people.
So why the over-reaction with my friend?
It’s because you thought you were in a ‘safe space’, that’s why it hit you so hard.
Again, there was nothing particularly wrong with my friend’s reaction – she wasn’t overtly having a go at me, or saying anything horrible. She was just recounting how this information had given her a different view of things, and that view just apparently clashed with mine.
I did some more digging, and discovered that the ‘loser’ thing and the ‘know it all’ thing are two sides of the same coin. When I start to feel like a loser, I often take refuge in putting together research or posts from that stance of being an arrogant ‘know it all’, instead, to try to counter it.
So then I asked God:
What can I do, to continue putting useful information out there that will help others, but without getting too over-invested in it, personally, and writing from a place of arrogance?
The response I got back is to try to write more from a place of happy humility.
Because it really is a privilege to be able to write about important subjects, and to be able to pull so much research together and digest it, and then package it together in a way that other people can get hold of it easily, too.
Because being able to do the research doesn’t make me infallible, or right about everything, or obligate other people to agree with my conclusions. And when they disagree, that also doesn’t make me a ‘loser’.
If I can internalize this, I’ll have the energy to keep writing, without having to worry about turning into an arrogant ‘know it all’ who tries to brow-beat everyone into agreeing with me, just so that I don’t have to deal with feeling ‘bad’ and rejected. And, I also won’t feel like a ‘loser’ who just wants to give up when I hit a small obstacle.
We’re back to that energized stability idea, again.
It’s hard work, all this working on our internal dimension stuff, isn’t it?
But the alternative is to go through life hurting other people’s feelings, alienating friends and family members and destroying the world instead of trying to build it up.
So, the work continues.
The founder of chassidut, the Baal Shem Tov, taught that the whole world is a mirror.
It sounds like a very simple concept, but if a person can actually internalize this idea, it’s the key to real inner transformation.
The basic idea is this: Like attracts like.
If I myself am full of jealousy, hatred, anger, hypocrisy, arrogance and self-righteousness – just to list the things I’m currently working on myself – then I’m going to attract lots of that type of stuff into my own life, and it’s going to really annoy me.
Because God knows that we all have a blind spot when it comes to figuring out our own bad behavior and nasty character traits. We might be the most jealous person in the world, and still never realise just how much bad stuff we’re wishing on other people, because we’re secretly coveting what they have, or all their success.
Ditto, for anger and hate. While it’s usually much harder to hide things a really bad temper, and volcanic outbursts of rage, we’ll still make every effort to try to dress these bad character traits up as ‘justified’ in some way, and even ‘holy’.
And the same thing goes for all the other negative character traits that exist in the world. We’ll either ignore that we have them, justify them as being ‘good’, or make a bunch of other excuses for why our bad behavior and yucky traits really aren’t so bad, or so yucky, and why everything that’s happening in the world is really
just everyone else’s fault.
This is human nature.
So what does God do, to help us really figure out what we need to work on and change? He sends a whole bunch of difficult situations and ucky people into our lives, to give us a clue as to what we ourselves need to work on.
Whatever we’re noticing in others, that we can’t help but take ‘personally’ and get very upset about, on some level, we have the same problem.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
But then, people come along and they say: “I had awful, abusive parents. How can you say that the mirror principle applies to me?! I was 100% the victim, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just a child!”
And honestly, there is a lot of truth to this argument. The small souls in our care are extremely easy to damage and hurt and twist out of shape psychologically, that’s part of why every parent has such a big responsibility to be working on acknowledging and then working on overcoming our own bad character traits with every fibre of our being.
But let’s explore what tends to happens to that poor, abused kid when they grow up, and they are no longer totally helpless and powerless.
The first thing to acknowledge is that if we ourselves were emotionally neglected, or flat-out abused in childhood, we have a huge wall to climb, in order to not repeat and pass on the same abusive behaviors to our children.
And this is where the mirror principal really starts to come into play, because people can so easily get stuck in a perception of themselves as the permanent ‘victim’ who is only ever sinned against, and who never does anything bad to anyone themselves.
While this mindset was probably true in childhood, it’s certainly no longer true when the person becomes an adult, and it’s definitely not true when that adult become a parent themselves.
But when a person consistently views themselves through the prism of being a ‘permanent victim’, they will never really acknowledge their own character flaws and problematic behavior.
And that’s why all the abusive people out there tend to believe that they are totally justified in their abuse of other people, including their own innocent children, because they are still seeing themselves as blameless victims.
Again, it’s completely understandable how this mindset comes about. But even so, God still wants us to get a grip on what’s really going on, and fix things, so we don’t pass the problem down to the next generation.
So now, let’s go back to the victimized kid who has now grown up.
Probably, she really doesn’t like herself very much. Probably, she has huge issues with toxic shame, which will kick in and overwhelm her every time she thinks she might have done something wrong. Probably, her fight / flight / freeze / fawn stress response will be permanently on high alert, and very easy to activate.
If someone or something triggers her into ‘fight’ – she’ll come out swinging and raging and hating.
If she gets triggered into ‘flight’ – she’ll run away into work, or doing kindnesses for all the neighbors, spending all her time in Facebook, or she’ll literally go AWOL and file for divorce.
If she gets triggered into ‘freeze’ – then that’s when depression and escapism come into the picture, whatever will close the world down around her, and let her hibernate inside her own head.
And if she gets triggered into ‘fawn’, then that’s when she’ll completely step outside of herself, and totally cut herself off from her true thoughts and feelings and emotions to try to give the other person what she thinks they want, so that they’ll leave her alone.
Let me ask you something:
What do you think it’s like, growing up with a person like this for a mother?
What is the child of this person experiencing?
And here is where we get into the real meat and potatoes of this post.
If that parent doesn’t like herself, then she’s also not going to like whatever she sees in the kid that reminds her of herself. And because so much of this is usually playing out under her emotional radar, she’s going to lash out the hardest at the kid’s characteristics that she herself has most repressed.
And each time she does that, she is being the abuser, not the victim.
Now, what about the toxic shame?
People have toxic shame because as a child, they were ridiculed or punished for making even minor, completely normal mistakes and errors. Instead of seeing that the thing they did, the action they did, was wrong, the parent gave this kid the sense that they themselves are fundamentally flawed, bad and worthless.
When you’re getting that message as a victimized kid, you tend to develop perfectionist tendencies, to try to minimize the times you’ll get carpeted – and then flooded with toxic shame - for making a mistake. Highly controlling behavior goes hand-in-hand with these perfectionistic tendencies, and again we can understand why.
A lack of ‘perfection’ will lead to punishment, and awful feelings of toxic shame. Trying to micro-manage the environment is a way of trying to minimize the likelihood of anything going ‘wrong’.
The problem is – no one is perfect. The problem is also, things can and do go wrong, even with all the meticulous planning in the world. With a lot of effort and focus, it’s maybe possible for the controlling, perfectionist person to keep the world running the way they want to when they’re in the office, or at the gym.
But at home? It’s a completely different story.
So now, what’s going on when that victimized kid grows up, and has their own family?
If they haven’t realized what’s going on internally with their own feelings of toxic shame, unreasonable perfectionism and need to control – they are going to ‘punish’ their own children harshly for making even minor, completely normal mistakes.
And so, the cycle starts again.
But if this parent still feels like they are the victim, they won’t own up to their own abusive tendencies and behavior towards their children. Often, what’s stopping abusers from putting their hands up to their bad behavior is the awful feeling of toxic shame that floods them whenever there is any hint that they might have done something wrong.
But now, they really are doing something wrong – even, lots of things wrong – that they can’t or won’t admit.
And having a person like that for a parent is extremely difficult and challenging for the child.
Once again, the victim has become an abuser.
NOW, WHAT ABOUT AN OUT-OF-CONTROL STRESS RESPONSE?
Ok, that awful, traumatic childhood we had means that we are primed to fight, run away, freeze and fall into depression, and / or turn into a disassociating people pleaser.
For sure, people only get like this because they went through some very challenging, difficult experiences.
But now they’re a grown up, and now they are the parent, the boss, the president, and they are tyrannizing the people around them with their awful rage fits; or ruining their relationships with their inability to really relate; or neglecting their kids, their responsibilities, their spouse because they are ‘frozen’ into a small, depressed bubble where they just can’t see past their own miserable headspace; or stuck in some plastic, unreal, unemotional version of who they think they should be.
What’s it like growing up with a parent like that?
And so, the cycle starts all over again, with the ‘victim’ becoming the abuser.
So now, how can we stop this awful cycle from continuing?
Enter: The Mirror Principle
When you grow up being constantly blamed and shamed for pointless nothings, or constantly ignored, or constantly attacked, or constantly made to feel bad for wanting normal things like love, affection and real conversations, you aren’t going to trust other people when they tell you ‘you’ve got a problem’.
And who can blame you?
You’ve heard that from the day you were born, because the ‘permanent victims’ in your life were trying to make all of their own problems and issues your fault.
But at the same time, you for sure still have a bunch of your own issues, that if you don’t get a handle on, are going to lead to you becoming an abusive ‘permanent victim’ in turn.
So, God arranges things so that you will be constantly surrounded by people who have the same bad character traits that you yourself have. Like it not, these are the people who you’ll be attracting into your space, and into your life.
Because like attracts like.
And now, you have a choice. Either, you can decide that you are still 100% perfect, and that you have absolutely nothing to work on yourself (which is the classic stance of a perfectionistic, permanent victim, and usually leads to a person being diagnosed with some sort of a personality disorder).
You can accept the mirror principle, and start to explore what God is trying to show you via the people in your life who are upsetting you.
THE 1% RULE
There is no such thing as being 100% right.
If you are caught up in some sort of distressing altercation with someone, or if someone’s behavior is upsetting you, then you own at least 1% of the problem.
There is at least 1% of the work to be done here, and you have to go and figure out how you may be treating others the way this yucky person is treating you, or acting in a similar way to the one you are so upset about, or harshly criticizing in others.
Let’s give an example, to try and make it easier to follow what I’m saying.
ANGRY HUSBAND, ANGRY MUM
Let’s say, you married someone with an awful temper. If the toilets aren’t cleaned just so, he’ll storm out in a rage. He’s constantly insulting you, and criticizing you. He can get enraged if the cable TV stops working, or if the car breaks down.
You’re scared of him, so you go into ‘people-pleasing’ mode to try to manage the situation.
Superficially, it looks like this man isn’t your mirror at all! You’re being super nice and accommodating as much as possible, while he’s raging and abusing.
But now, take a look at what’s going on with the kids.
This woman isn’t scared of her kids, and as the adult, she’s in the position of ‘power’ in the relationship. And sure enough, there’s an awful lot of anger being blasted in their direction.
She berates them for not doing their homework properly, blasts them for how they dress, and is constantly criticizing them and blowing up at them.
The mirror principle is playing out.
Is her anger as extreme as what she’s experiencing herself, from her husband? Arguably not. But she still has a lot of her own inner work to do, to overcome her anger and rage.
Now, if the woman in our example believes herself to be a ‘permanent victim’, she won’t understand that she actually has the same problem as her husband. She’ll blame him 100% for all the issues that are going on in the house, and she won’t take any responsibility for her own abusive behavior of her children, which she’ll tell herself is not a big deal, and justify as being ‘normal’.
In the meantime, her own relationship with her kids becomes extremely strained.
Now, the mirror principle is going to kick again, as the kids start to relate to the mother with more and more anger.
Again, God is giving her a chance to see what she herself needs to work on.
At least 1% of this problem is hers. At this point, she can either knuckle down to see how her own behavior and negative character traits are contributing to the problem, or she’ll pretend that she’s 100% perfect, the “permanent victim”, and that all her children’s anger issues are nothing to do with her.
We all have resistance to acknowledging our own faults and flaws.
If we have issues with ‘toxic shame’, then that resistance can so easily turn into an impenetrable mantra that “we can do no wrong”, and that we are always just the permanent victim.
But all of us are down here because we have work to do.
So next time you see something you don’t like, or experience some behavior that you find unusually upsetting or emotionally wrenching, take a moment to try to figure out what God is showing you about yourself, that you need to work on and fix.
Because I guarantee, at least 1% of the problem lies with us, and not the other guy.
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