Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Blog is Moving to a New Address

I've been busy making arrangements to move this blog to my new website, It will have a shopping cart, and should all be up and running later in October. In the meantime, there's lots of content to read here, and you can order my books here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nothing is Easier Than Fooling Ourselves

Fooling ourselves comes naturally. One glaring example is our conviction that others are to blame for our unhappiness. We say to ourselves, for instance, that “Their behavior (or attitude) is causing me to feel this way (offended, angry, depressed, etc.).”

Sometimes, instead of blaming others for our problems and unhappiness, we blame conditions or circumstances in our life. We might say to ourselves, “Work is too hard, and I don’t get paid enough.” Or we think, “I would be happy if only I was better looking and had a great body and personality.”

Yet we are the ones who are making inner choices that produce our suffering. We have to understand the bittersweet appeal of negative emotions. Without realizing what we’re doing, we actually are making choices to feel deprived, refused, helpless, criticized, rejected, betrayed, or abandoned. Unconsciously, we’re tempted to indulge in such negative emotions that are unresolved from our past.

For instance, if you’re convinced you’re unhappy because you’re not attractive enough, you can be rejecting yourself. Your problem is not with your so-called lack of physical attractiveness, but with your determination to experience yourself through the feeling of rejection. Your inner choice to suffer in this way is caused by an emotional attachment to rejection, as well as to self-rejection. An emotional attachment can be defined as an inner determination to experience a certain unresolved negative emotion. Vast numbers of people have attachments to various negative emotions. It is a social problem that goes largely untreated because it is not well understood.

Related to this, you can also be determined to experience yourself through feelings of criticism and disappointment. Your parents might have regarded you in this negative way (or you believed or felt that they regarded you this way), and now it is how, at least in part, you regard yourself or experience yourself on an emotional level deep in your psyche. We are often completely unaware of these emotional attachments.

A person who easily feels criticized by others and reacts angrily to them is very likely to have an emotional attachment to criticism. This person is likely to be his or her own worst critic. It is ironic that we get angry at someone who has been critical of us when we’re the first in line to be critical of ourselves (through our inner critic). We get angry at the other person to cover up our own resonance with the feeling of being criticized. Through our anger, we blame the other person for our bad feelings, all the while failing to recognize our affinity for (or attachment to) criticism and self-criticism.

All such suffering can become a distant memory when we see more clearly how our psyche works

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Source of Much of Our Guilt

Guilt is no fun. Guilt produces suffering, and people can feel it for the slightest misdemeanors. This problem occurs when, on an inner level, we absorb negative accusations from our inner critic.
Sometimes the misdemeanors occurred ages ago. One client could still feel guilty because she had gotten angry for a few hours during her mother's long, fatal illness over 30 years ago. The mother was sick for more than three years, and my client had been a conscientious daughter who tried her best to be helpful and ease her mother's pain. But she still regretted that one-time outburst of anger and frustration. She said she had forgiven herself many times for the outburst, but the painful memory of it, and guilt for allegedly having been a “bad daughter,” kept coming back.
I told my client, "The only reason you're still feeling guilty and suffering in this way is because your inner critic is still able to hit you up with negative accusations about that long-ago incident. Those inner accusations of having been a “bad daughter” are unfair and quite irrational. For one thing, we can’t be perfect. We all have occasions when we’re not at our best. Besides, as you said, you forgave yourself for the outburst a long time ago. The problem is that you are allowing your inner critic to continue to pass judgment on you. You absorb that negative accusation, which means you feel that the accusation has some validity. That causes the guilt.”

We absorb aggression and negativity from our inner critic because of our inner passivity. This passivity is an inner weakness, a place inside our psyche that we have not yet claimed with sufficient consciousness, in the name of our authentic self. The outlines of this inner passivity come clearer to us as we study our psyche and acquire self-knowledge.

As we get stronger and eliminate this unconscious passivity, we successfully shut down our inner critic and live guilt-free and in greater harmony.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Primary Source of Our Suffering

Much suffering is produced through our relationship with our inner critic. This part of our psyche is also called the superego or self-aggression. It’s an authoritarian part in us that holds us accountable for any real or imagined shortcomings or failures. The inner critic is an offshoot of the natural aggression that humans have needed in order to survive in the world.

Not only does it hold us accountable, our inner critic harasses and torments us for our slightest shortcomings or misdemeanors. It is a rogue operator in our psyche that is mostly negative. It attacks us mercilessly for not living up to some unrealistic ideal of who or what we are supposed to be.

Our inner critic gets away with pretending to be our conscience, or pretending to be the inner authority that we are supposed to trust and be passive to. When we grow psychologically, we are able to shift inner authority over to our authentic self. It is this self that we can trust to represent our best interests and to be the true representative of our essence, integrity, and goodness.

When we are failing to check the power of the inner critic, we absorb its aggression, criticism, and negativity. We then become more negative in our relationship with others, and are quick to criticize and judge ourself and others. As long as we are assimilating or absorbing the negativity that the inner critic directs at us, we are compelled to be critical or judgmental of someone or something.

This negativity fills our mind with poisonous thoughts and feelings that we direct outward toward others or inward toward ourself. These negative thoughts and feelings produce much suffering for us in the form of stress, anxiety, resentment, cynicism, anger, depression, and hatred.

When we become stronger on an inner level, we are able to "zap" or neutralize the negative, irrational offerings of the inner critic. In this process of inner growth, we bring into focus our inner passivity. This passivity in our psyche has been enabling the inner critic and allowing it to get away with its abuse of us.

The great conflict in the human psyche is between inner aggression and inner passivity. Our liberation from this conflict is achieved through our study of our psyche, which is the process that leads to self-discovery, peace of mind, and appropriate self-regulation.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bittersweet Allure of Feeling Unloved

Odd though it is, many of us have a strange affinity for feeling rejected, abandoned, and unloved. Sometimes the feelings arise in the familiarity of bittersweet self-pity.
Not all of us are prone to this, of course, but many of us indulge in these negative feelings. We're dragged down into unhappiness, depression, and even ill health by clinging to these negative emotions. They are usually old unresolved emotions from our past that we don’t know how to live without. They seem to define us. We know ourselves through this pain and sorrow. We don’t know who we are without this brand of suffering.
Our affinity for rejection, abandonment, and betrayal are emotional attachments. They’re like barnacles on the side of our hull that we’re reluctant to scrape off. They’re jelly beans we keep eating even though our teeth are decaying badly.
Common sense tells us that we ought to avoid such painful feelings. But common sense doesn’t work for us in the realms of the psyche. Irrational, conflicting forces are at play in our psyche, and they have no interest in our well-being. We need to see more clearly into the nature of our emotional conflicts so we can use our intelligence to avoid unnecessary suffering.
As an example, a needy person who appears to be desperate for love is often entangled in the familiar pain of feeling unloved. Unconsciously, the person often chooses to feel unloved rather than to feel loved. This person often turns away from love when it is available, and runs off in self-pitying agony to where love is unavailable. When that attachment to feeling unloved is brought into the light of the individual’s awareness, the person, in processing this knowledge, can usually improve his or her situation dramatically.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The (Emotional) Addiction at the Root of All Addictions

I read this definition of an addiction on the internet: "An addiction is an unconscious way of coping with emotions." Yes, that's true, but a more precise definition is called for: "An addiction is a self-defeating reaction to, or consequence of, unresolved negative emotions." Unresolved emotions can, by definition, be resolved, and negative emotions can, in large part, be eliminated from our psyche.

In the process of full recovery, the unresolved emotions have to be identified. An addictive person can be burdened with deep, frequently unconscious feelings of being deprived, refused, controlled, helpless, rejected, betrayed, abandoned, criticized, hated, and so on.

With the right knowledge or with in-depth therapy, a particular individual can identify, based on his or her childhood experiences, which of these negative emotions "push his buttons." Once the negative emotions are identified, the individual becomes aware of how determined he has been to continue to experience those unresolved negative emotions in the different situations of everyday life.

We can say, in fact, that addicts have a hidden addiction. They are compelled to experience repeatedly those negative emotions that are unresolved in their psyche.

Yet, addicts (and most people, for that matter) fear to journey into their psyche. They don't want to look inward to see their own participation, unconscious though it may be, in their failures and self-defeat. Penetrating our psyche to acquire self-knowledge is, technically speaking, not that difficult. The hard part is overriding our resistance to seeing ourselves more objectively.

We have to penetrate beneath the negative emotions such as anger, fear, loneliness, depression, and sadness to uncover the deeper negative emotions. Because they are unresolved, these deeper emotions become attachments or addictions. We don't know how to live without them; they are part of our identity. We keep experiencing them over and over, especially in life's challenging moments.

These deep negative emotions were listed above: to repeat, they constitute unresolved attachments to feelings of deprivation, refusal, control, helplessness, rejection, criticism (especially self-criticism), betrayal, abandonment, and having no value.

Much of the time we are unaware of how acutely we are stuck in these negative emotions, unconsciously (secretly) recycling them and provoking situations in which we are repeatedly entangled in the emotions. Before there is a substance addiction or a behavioral addiction (compulsion), there is an emotional addiction to a negative feeling that is unresolved from our past.

In varying degrees, this hidden dynamic, which I call the fatal flaw in my book Why We Suffer, affects most people, not just addicts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Terrific Knowledge for Terrible Times

I offer my sympathies to those among you who are in distress--emotionally and financially--over the economic crisis plaguing America and the world. The crisis may last for many more years, and people can help themselves considerably by staying emotionally strong. That means believing in yourself and your value and avoiding negative influences. Much blaming and bitterness, along with a sense of helplessness, are making the rounds in communities and the media.

It’s very easy for us to become negative in the present crisis. Our psyche operates in a way that makes it tempting for us to recycle emotions such as deprivation, helplessness, and criticism. The teaching offered at this website helps us to avoid this trap by becoming more perceptive and insightful.

This knowledge penetrates our psyche to expose and eliminate unresolved conflicts that are hidden from our awareness. Whatever is unresolved in our psyche, and denied or left unexplored, has a life of its own. Our unresolved issues produce negativity. We are compelled to experience these negative emotions, no matter how painful or self-defeating they are, when the mechanisms at play in our psyche remain unconscious.

In other words, we are going to pay a price in some form of suffering for whatever is emotionally unresolved in our psyche. It becomes our path of least resistance to experience events, situations, and ourselves from a negative perspective (at least part if not much of the time). It's as if our thoughts, memories, feelings, observations, and beliefs pass through an invisible screen or filter where they are distorted and corrupted by a chaotic, undeveloped side within us. This produces a wide variety of emotional and behavioral problems.

When life’s circumstances are more difficult, as in our current economic malaise, we are more likely to succumb to unresolved emotions in our psyche.

My books and psychotherapy expose the exact inner workings of this irrational, secretive part of our psyche. With the deeper awareness we acquire, we have the power to replace the old self-defeating mechanisms with new awareness, like upgraded "software," that processes our experiences more objectively and more harmoniously.