Over a number of years, I have encountered clients who demonstrate the curse of being told in childhood, how special they are. ‘Special’ can come with a dark side: anxiety, pressure to succeed, perfectionism, isolation and failure to meet expectations; and, in time, may lead to illness. The ‘gifted’ may either burnout or self-sabotage, in order to prove their family or teacher was wrong, or to validate how they truly feel about themselves.
The beauty in life is found in its imperfections, the source of difference and ordinariness. The expectations placed on the ‘special child’ are not only unrealistic, but impossible to achieve. Post childhood, these children find out that they are not alone. There are other individuals who are just as intelligent, just as successful, just as athletic, just as creative…more proficient.
The now adult becomes filled with a sense of failure, and may tend to self-sabotage. Too often, they may have illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and often associated with the gastrointestinal tract. Most recently, the gastrointestinal tract is referred to as the ‘second brain.’ The gut produces the same biochemical substances in response to stress, fear and pain; as does the brain.
In parenting, we don’t need to do anything other than love our children; and realize that they, like all children, are love made visible. We should teach them to accept their ordinariness and follow their dreams. We should teach them that there is no such thing as perfection. We should teach them that there is no such thing as ‘the perfect job’ or ‘permanent success.’ We should teach them to mimic life by living in the present and embracing uncertainty; for the only constants in life are change and the beauty that can be found in difference.
When I was a kid, 85 years ago, my favorite radio series was ‘The Shadow.’ The program began, ‘Who knows what lurks in the hearts of man? (Pause) The Shadow Knows!’ And it ended with the same deep, mysterious voice, repeating, ‘Who Knows…? (Longer pause) The Shadow knows.’ Psychology, for me, is playing the role of The Shadow. Psychologists delve into the mysterious shadows of the mind.
On the other hand, when I practiced Medicine, my knowing was based on what was seen or suspected, compared to known medical knowledge, and relegated to a box, i.e., labeled; and treatment was based on ‘proven’ information. I have lived long enough to know that, ‘proven’ keeps changing.
The Mind is the Mind, unnameable, free of definable parts, resistant to compartmentalizations, conceived by the Self and others; yet holds no form, always disappearing into infinite shadows…to be explored by fellow Shadowers. The Shadower knows that if these vapors remain unresolved, they can take the form of definable illness. If the client wants to create healthy change, it is best for client and therapist to locate the origin of those shadows that need to be transformed into health, through the medicine that is called Psychology.
Who knows what lurks in minds of men: you and The Shadow….with mutual permission.
Of all the statements of the sixties and seventies that I use
practically everyday, one is the title of Gerald Jampolski’s book,
“Love is Letting Go of Fear.” The other day on seeing a patient, I
used that phrase for the umpteenth time; and thought to myself:
‘What is fear?.’ It is an emotional experience, not unlike love, and
as difficult to wrap one’s mind around as love. I realized that I
needed a word to help me understand fear in a practical way. That
night ‘fear’ became my meditation.
In the silence of meditating on ‘fear,’ the word ‘loss’ came to mind.
Could fear simply be a result of loss of life, a loved one, finances,
control, the known, peace, certainty, freedom, all those things that
can never be guaranteed? The ego revolves around ownership. To
a significant degree, the ego represents what we have
obtained— knowledge, position, wealth, power, status— all of which
can be taken away from an individual.
When we are born we are given the gift of life, having nothing and
without fear. What if ownership as ego is an illusion? Then it
makes sense what Buddha stated: “The three marks of existence
are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-selfhood.” If Love
is indeed letting go of fear of loss, would we then live in love with
far less suffering and ego? If we could accept that all of life is
simply a gift of love, and that our existence is service to eternal
life; would we be happier? Would this stop our ‘warring,’ our
insanity to have or be anything more then who we are? Could we be
even more accepting that death is part of life?
Perhaps the greatest gift that we can offer another is the love that we
discover within ourselves. Self-love has a beginning, but no end. One of
the many games of life is to learn alchemy: the transmutation of
emotional pain into love. Physical pain, on the other hand, is meant to
be remembered. It tells us where to tread lightly. Physical pain is a
form of love, telling us where not to go.
However, our gift to life is found within our childhood emotional pain. It
is within childhood discomfort that we can find the ideal substrate of love
to be transmuted. Emotional pain, the emotional unmet needs, are the
‘stuff’ that is within us, initiated from outside of ourselves; projected
onto us by the trans-generational past (epigenetically). Ancestral
emotional pain dwells in our unconscious; only to arise periodically into
conscious emotional pain, in the form of feelings of abandon,
abusiveness, or both. It is here that emotional pain masks the truth of
who we are: Love Made Visible.
This aspect of the game of life is to uncover our true nature by meeting
our own unmet emotional needs. This is how Self-love is realized. Self-
love imbues others with that same love of self. We each carry different
aspects of love. We cannot give another what does not dwell within
ourselves. We are here to make our unique form of love visible…for self
and other. Imbue all whom you touch with love, asking nothing in return.
The acknowledgment of ‘that other,’ those we observe to be different
from ourselves, is the origin of all of our problems: disconnection,
loneliness, judgment, comparison and more. What if the purpose of ‘that
other’ is simply to see ourselves, outside ourselves; in another form with
acceptance. How would life be different if we could accept ‘that other’
as a part of ourselves?
‘Other,’ the creator of tribalism, is born of fear of difference. Oh, how
we create separation. Oh, how we learn from our deep, dark past that
difference cannot be trusted. Oh, how we totally misunderstand that
beauty cannot exist without difference, and is the source of joy. Silly us,
believing beauty and safety are found in ‘sameness.’ Go figure!
Dr. Brenner would like to share a video he really enjoyed:
“This is a great video for us to share. I wish I was as erudite. The best piece on Epigenetics ever. I love, love Gabor.” ~Dr. Brenner
Dr. Gabor Mate speaks about childhood trauma, addiction, the mind body link, early development, attachment, and the importance of human connection.
Illness is the mind/body’s need for change. It is definitely not the time for self-judgement. Life abhors constancy, stagnation. I’m suggesting that life is in charge, and we are no more than passengers on its journey. Illness is often a station we stop at and have the choice to get off, continue, reevaluate our situation, self medicate, do nothing, or seek help. Whatever our choice, it and the outcome are perfect. Life is a game of choice and as such, you can never be wrong because the outcome is where your supposed to be. I.e.: here, now, with whatever happens.
There are so many forces that shape our lives, from genetic inheritance to emotional responses, the environment, chance, roads taken and those bypassed. Yet there is one constant in all of it…You. Yes, you’re ‘It!’ It is for this reason that, when the going gets tough, the only one who can save you is you.
So, when in distress, review your journey through life up to the present moment of concern. Find the recurrent situations and themes that have brought you to your present state. Have you been here before? Is this a ‘play it again’ moment? How did you manage the situation before, and
was it effective? What if you were to handle the situation entirely different; since your old solutions are probably as ineffective in the present as they were in the past.
Life demands newness. Life has just offered you a chance to change.
Change, movement and creativity are some of the keys to Life.
Check out Dr. Brenner’s new website, MyActuality.org.
Self-awareness is more important than you may realize.
Register and explore the process of MyActuality to learn more the inherent patterns of emotion and thought that influence so many factors of your life.
A special post from Dr. Brenner:
Over the past few days, I’ve realized that I’m totally saturated by America’s fear of Death. Fear of not eating the right life extending diet or not doing the latest exercise to assure that I can live into my 90’s. And yes, those ridiculous Pharmaceutical Companies, filling T.V., while proffering cures while unashamedly create other illnesses. “Science” recently reported that 65% of all cancers are “simply bad luck,” the chance of DNA mutations, while the remaining 1/3 are due to diet and lifestyle. Oh, and yes, longevity is diminishing for the first time since “Modern medicine.” Ya mean the promise in science and technology to continue extending our lives is no more than a hoax? And Ya mean, I didn’t have to go to Medical School and take that Cancer Fellowship?
Along these lines, I could only ponder, maybe the sole purpose of Life, is to prepare for death. And the only way to prepare for Death is to live Life fully. And the only way to live Life fully is to be willing to die each day.
Dr. Brenner recently came across this fantastic article, which he would like to share with his friends (that’s you!)
Please click on the link or image below to check it out!