Healing Arts Report

Practices for an Evolving Life

They Don't Tell You How

“You need to love yourself more.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Always put other people first. Don’t be selfish.” The one thing that is missing from all this good advice is telling you HOW to do it. We introduce you to practical tools using your own character traits to support you in creating practical answers to those questions. Read more here.

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Two memoirs tell about times of extreme personal growth in the author’s life. Sunny Side Up is a window into the early 70s when certain young adults were searching for a way to head off society’s path bent on materialism. The Transparent Feather tells of a dying author passing the torch of writing to her new friend cum student.

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You can love yourself and other people as well. At Healing Arts Report we explore fulfilling personal development that at the same time serves to create the shift to a peaceful new world paradigm.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung

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Freedom To Make Choices

As often happens in counseling, I recently had three clients whose most demanding issue was similar despite their outer circumstances being quite different. What they shared was a relationship to a controlling organization that forced each of them to behave in ways that weren’t consistent with their own values and ideals. They worried about what would happen when their ‘true’ self became known. This caused them tremendous anxiety and agitation.

The threat is not idle. If their true beliefs were known, it would change each person’s life dramatically–cutting them off from family and community. Their situations offered only two apparent solutions–finding a way to not expose themselves while learning to live peacefully with the paradox or to make an extreme change in their personal environment that required faith that all would work out in the end. None had been able to do the first possibility.

We all experience this situation to some degree as we mature. We may find that we don’t agree with our family’s behaviors or with how our religion acts on its values. Or we may discover that a company we work for demands too much sacrifice of our personal life or that our personal interests have changed and we need to find new friends.

Cult-like behaviors. For these people in counseling, the dichotomy is more extreme and often includes many elements of cultism rather than few. Cult-like behaviors can be found in any segment of society, including conventional religions, psychotherapy, personal relationships, and business. By educating ourselves regarding cult-like behaviors, we can better recognize what is healthy or unhealthy in any social interaction and consequently make better choices about what actions to take.

Many observers readily agree on the destructive consequences of the injurious behaviors found in most cults—such as sexual demands made by a leader; monetary requirements that provide for the leader yet leave participants without resources; and insistence that all ties from the past be cut, including family. In addition, the group may control members’ personal lives to a degree where the individual’s values are breached. There are, however, many behaviors that are not as easily categorized. Any of the following actions could also become unhealthy aspects of any group:

Disney Pixar - For the Birds

Disney Pixar – For the Birds

• a strong leader who promotes fervent devotion

• isolating participants from outside influences

• condemning ethically neutral activities such as dreaming, imagination, psychotherapy, reading, dance, or music

• asserting exclusivity in being the only true way that has the correct methods and goals

• discouraging the use of an individual’s free will

• encouraging over-dependency on the methods of the group or leader

• appealing to pride in being special for following the methods of the group or the leader

• teaching methods that are overly intense to wear a person down

• obstructing privacy

• using obedience, humiliation, or intimidation to control behavior

• invoking fear of not becoming enlightened

How does one protect oneself from these intrusions? Awareness provides the best protection. It is imperative to note how problems arise as much from the participant’s unconscious needs as from the leader and group culture. The hunger to live in a loving and protective environment combined with being in a state of fear, greed, or dependency can motivate any individual to agree to activities they might not participate in when they are in a state of greater health.

Individuals who are willing to see weaknesses in themselves can find healthy ways to meet their needs so as not to become unconsciously victimized by them. Wholesome friendships and developing self-knowledge with the support of informed mentors contribute to a healthy personal environment.

Those raised in a cult-like environment have a much harder time expanding their emotional resources. They have not had experience with the outer world. Often, they have been misinformed about the variety of healthy experience available, and they have had even less experience than the rest of us about how to live in and respond to a world of true choices, dangers, and opportunities.

What happened to the clients? One had already gone through a dark night, kicked out, has rebuilt a life, and is still learning how to express an inner life on their own terms, explore the expanded world, and experiment with new activities.

Another client is on a collision course with life, will not consider stopping the behavior that is unacceptable to both the small community and to the larger world, and is closing their eyes to preparing in any way for the inevitable catastrophe.

Most likely, the third client is also on a collision course but is actively nurturing connections with loved community members. However, it is likely, when the community sees the extent to which this person is not living according to their rules, will probably force them out. Repercussions are expected and dreaded but a thus far unknown solution is still being hoped for.

PRACTICE. If you feel conflicted about a behavior of yours, take notice of what the need is that is causing the conflict. This means your need, not what you want from someone else. Express this thought to yourself without judgment. See if you can name a way to address this need that is different from what you are doing. If it is something you don’t think you can do on your own, consider where you would go for help.

CONTACT. When learning this process, you may need to go through it once with a guide. Contact me for a free 20-minute phone or one-week email consultation to see how it works for you.