Stepping Into Your Vision by Peter Metzner


“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens.  I’ve knocked from the inside.” — Rumi

All of our trouble flows from being separated from our instincts.  C.G. Jung

Freud stated that “The price of civilization is neurosis”.   Neurosis meaning being someone you are not,  being split from your natural truth and being defined by an external definition of who you are.   Living a life that is authentically yours;  means being connected to your passion,  using and developing your gifts and natural abilities  in ways that are meaningful, useful and satisfying.   This is what vocational  integration is.    To get to this place requires some reflection and being  ‘real”  with your self.    Asking the larger and important questions can greatly help this process.

Below are powerful questions from James Hollis, PhD   that can help ease access to deeper insights.   Asking the “right”  questions;  stimulates our thinking  to seek to find answers.   We need   to ask and  be open and receptive to the messages we get.  Having solitude and quiet  allows us to hear and discern the answers that come.     Each may take some time so you may want to choose the one or ones that  resonate the most with you at this time.   

The Questions:

  • How do you know what is true for you?   How did you lose your personal authority in the first place?   Did you lose it through adapting  to circumstances?
  • What core ideas – are the defining ideas of my life?
  • What has brought you to this point in your life?  Fate?  Family influences?
  • What parts of history have framed your world?  Are there repeating patterns that make us prisoners of our history?
  • Which pieces or parts of your life are working  for you?
  • What constricts you?
  • What messages did you internalize?  i.e.  We are here to make money;  I have to be perfect,  successful;  have children and make them successful…
  • Why does so much feel like a script that has been written for you?
  • Am I choosing  security over truth?
  • Am I doing  what my peers do?
  • Do I change and grow and how?
  • Why is so much a disappointment?
  • Why do I hide so much from others?
  • What gets pushed underground in my unconscious?
  • Where do I experience the transcendent?

According to Jung, the highest calling is an appointment with our “self”.  We have an appointment with ourselves and not all of us keep it.     We need to mindful and discern where spirit is working in all areas of our lives. If the life we have lived has been too small and it may be too small for most of us;   the task of recovering ourselves is opening to largeness of our journey.

There are two  gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard…  I can’t  do it.

 Lethargy:  – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy, they are not out there they are inside.  We awaken only to fall back into the  comfort of our past life.

Jung also wrote:  ” The Spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.

If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.”

We all have a task and it is;  the recovery of personal authority and discerning the meaning of our lives.  Who are we to stand in its way?  We are responsible for finding meaning in our lives.

We can look at symptoms like depression, anxiety, addictions and compulsions as ruptures in our false self.   James Hollis also writes this is the psyche or our “self” trying to break out of the confines of the acquired or false self.    So welcome a symptom.  The psyche which has been captive may have a different agenda than the one our ego or acquired identity is following.    Symptoms may be the psyche no longer able to cooperate in going along the path we are taking.  Similar to the reins of a horse correcting us when we stray.

Jung believed  that every patient knew at some all level what they needed to do.   We all need to become our own psychotherapists
and heal the bridge and split from our natural truth.   The self knows you have always known.   This is the knowledge of the head in service to the knowledge of the heart which gives insight and the courage to live our lives.

If you knew what you are truly capable of, would you move forward into your life with tremendous enthusiasm and very little self-doubt?
Find  your voice and a place in your life where your brilliance  can shine through.  There is  something we all can do to bring us a sense of satisfaction and meaning.   Find  what you love the most in life.  Search inside for that deep passion or restlessness, and allow  yourself  the quiet and peace to give it full expression.
There is genius in every one of us, as a natural part of our birthright.  Let it come out.  The German Poet Rilke wrote: “Our task is to be defeated by ever larger things” .
References and suggested reading:
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally Really Grow up James Hollis PH.D, Gotham books New York, NY 2006
Why Good People Do Bad Things:  Understanding our Darker Selves.  James Hollis PH.D Gotham books New York, NY 2007
Memories Dreams , Reflections.  Carl Gustav Jung  Random House, Inc. 1963
 

 

Overcoming Addictions and Compulsions: “Finding Your Self” by Peter Metzner


If something out side of your self is the reason you are happy;  you are hostage to it.  Ekhard  Tolle

In over 15 years in being in the field of Human Development, I have seen no correlation with having a lot of material things and “happiness”.   Money is important and ranks along  with oxygen to live.   Yet, when there is enough oxygen to breathe  it doesn’t register in our awareness of needs.

Neuroscience has found that money or accumulating money stimulates the pleasure centers of our brains.      If we are happy, have supportive relationships and are living meaningfully and with purpose,  material comforts can  enhance our sense of well-being.   However,  if we are unhappy,  we are  like hungry ghosts.   Searching and driven yet never satisfied.  Riches, material comfort, distractions etc.  can’t make us happy if we are anxious, driven, unhappy or suffering from low self-esteem or lack of meaning.   If materialistic ambition becomes a substitute for our intrinsic needs for giving and receiving love and doing work that is “right” for us, we can become addicted in the pursuit of diversions, pleasure, accumulating “things” , titles, accomplishments, etc.

Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, PhD  explains, “dopamine levels increase as soon as we start anticipating a reward. Once the dopamine starts flowing, monkeys and people will work and work and work expecting  a treat.  For monkeys,  a grape is usually enough.   For people, the treats include:  a pair of sneakers, a shiny car, an MBA that might lead to a high-paying job, early retirement, a couple of minutes of entertaining diversion, a few seconds of sexual gratification, etc…    Monkeys and people’s neurochemistry  function virtually the same!    The main difference: “Monkeys don’t get hooked on beliefs, ideologies, dogma, degrees, titles, fantasies, lies, empty promises, or self-deceptions” .

What is known about addictions:

  • Any behavior that can deliver a dopamine reward can become an addiction.
  • The more powerful the addiction, the greater the denial, the weaker the free will, the more likely addicts are to detest any information that threatens to keep them from feeding their addictions.
  • It’s possible to get addicted to safety, peer approval, and esteem.   (The dopamine project)

Using brain scanning equipment, researchers have found that there is basically one addiction—dopamine addiction. When heroin addicts shoot up, the street drug tells their brains to produce dopamine. Heroin is a trigger.  Dopamine flow creates the sensation of being ‘high.’ When it comes to scoring dopamine rewards, there are many triggers. For some the trigger is cocaine. For others it’s nicotine, alcohol, sex, gambling, or food.  Street drugs are physical dopamine triggers that are hard to deny because they need the ingesting, inhaling, or injecting of addictive substances.  Sadly, physical dopamine addictions destroy lives and wreak societal damage.  Researchers have recently added video games and texting to the list. Yet the most dangerous dopamine triggers include easy to deny psychological addictions. Psychological dopamine addictions may be more insidious because addictive emotions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, ideologies, rhetoric, and deceptions also trigger release of  dopamine.

An addiction is anything you can’t stop doing and it serves as an anxiety management system.  Along with addictions come formidable psychological defenses.  They include self-deception, denial, and a lack of morality that can even lead to a capacity for murder.   Reason, integrity, morality and a distaste for lying, cheating, stealing, and killing  that non-addicts value are often no match to addicts of:   power, money, fame, substances etc.   We see  in history and current events “examples of unstoppable, unreasonable, inhumane, addict/killers attacking, vilifying, and eliminating reasoning, humane, non-addict/non-killers” (The Dopamine Project)

Addicts have an amazing capacity to dismiss and deny facts, truth, and reason.   “Dopamine flow fuels addictions: More dopamine = yes, like, do more while dopamine withdrawal = stop, hate, avoid. “Thinking”   justifies, rationalizes, and defends  dopamine-influenced decisions”. (The Dopamine Project)  In other words,  intelligence  in the service of  addiction.

One of the most addictive abstractions is money.  Someone  addicted to alcohol or drugs, increasingly organizes their life  around the use and abuse of their substance(s) of choice.  The person who uses money to mood alter can have their relationship with money spin out of control; by being overly focused on accumulating it, spending it, hoarding it or using it to control people, places and things. For example,  as with a drug or alcohol, tolerance increases and a person  may find him/ herself needing to devote increasingly larger amounts of time to these activities, to get the same mood altering high that only a little once provided.  They become increasingly preoccupied with all things related to getting and maintaining their “substance”  excluding  other areas of living.  Gradually, just like any addict, money and the relationship with money becomes a primary preoccupation.   (Tian Dayton, PhD)    Personal drives and identity become so wrapped up around money  that they lose sight of who “they really are” .

No matter how much they have, money addicts crave more.    As with all addictions, the first pleasure is soon replaced by cravings and withdrawal.  Acquiring more money only increases stress levels which keep money addicts craving more money while worrying about losing what they already have.  Money is highly addictive because it quickly and easily converts into other dopamine triggers that feed other addictions like drugs, foods, sex, gambling, approval, status, and power.  The corrupting influences of money addiction everywhere and at every level of society.

So what does this have to do with Finding your “Self”. 

“Since our capacity for Self deception is truly monumental”  (Yorum Kaufam ) Self Awareness and  Self Mastery entails being aware:  of who we really are, what truly matters, the emotions that drive our behaviors, being able to “regulate or manage them,  knowing our passions, our talents, owning our weaknesses and:   what our “Self”,  Psyche or Soul are asking of us.  This is an awareness of what we truly value and a growing understanding  of our place in the world and connection to the transcendent.  To get there,  we need to recognize the mine fields, the seductions and powerful conditioning  of society that  pulls us to these  baser levels of living, wanting  and consuming.  Freud wrote that “The price of civilization is neurosis” – neuroses defined as  ” being someone who you are not”.

Rather than conform mindlessly or automatically to the expectations of  society,  we can  listen to that small voice. If we are quiet and still enough, summoning the will to live a life that is authentically ours.   “When we allow our light to shine we give permission for others lights to shine” ( Marian Williamson)    The great change agents throughout history, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, etc.  all answered their summons to raise human consciousness, be in relationship to the transcendent,  live mindfully, ethically and see all of humanity as family.

It is OK  to not fully know our  selves or our true North.   The beginning of wisdom is to realize what you don’t know.  To get there requires openness, receptivity and  mindfulness.    I was forty before shifting into my role of teaching, coaching & training.   By  seeking to stay true to yourself, your values and what energizes you is the compass that helps in finding your way.

The Greek god Aesculapius decreed “that it  is through suffering we come to wisdom” .   Avoidance of suffering can lead to and fuel addictions, compulsions and flights from reality.  (James Hollis) Suffering can also give us empathy, understanding and insights which can help others work through their pain.  Being fully human is to experience the full range of emotions.  Being aware and   experiencing   “all”  emotions enables us to live more fully,  better exercise  free will,  intentionality and grow into the person we are meant  to be.

 “There is hope for the world if enough people do their inner work“. C. G. Jung

References and suggested readings:

The Dopamine Project – Better Living Through Dopamine Awareness : see  http://dopamineproject.org/

Swamplands Of  The Soul – New Life in Dismal Places, James Hollis inner City Books  1996

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should do the Opposite.  David Disalvo Prometheus Books  2011.

Safe Stress: The Art of Coping by Peter Metzner


With  chronic stress so detrimental to health, productivity and sense of well being;  it is important to find ways, habits of thought  and strategies to bring balance back to our lives.   Everyone is different and each may find their own strategy that works best.  Below are practical and immediately useful insights that can help to find greater joy and meaning to life.   The good news is that these are not expensive.

First,  we need to do something every day that is relaxing and we like to do just for the sake of it.  For me, I find that meditation is an ideal way to start off the day by visualizing what I want to accomplish and experience. I set an intention for the impact I want to have from my classes, seminars and coaching. Try it it works!

Exercise is another stress buster. Daily exercise even it it is walking briskly for 30 to 40 minutes, flushes out stress hormones and gives a fresh perspective on things.   There is a lot of literature and research that also shows a link between a poor diet and chronic diseases.   Processed food, sugars found snack foods and soft drinks are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, ADD, moodiness,  low energy as well as inflammatory diseases.   A diet rich in unprocessed foods, fruits,  and fresh vegetables will give our bodies the fuel it needs to repair itself.  A “healthy”  diet will also help in our having more energy and impact our sense of well being.  Think about what would happen if you put bad fuel in a car?   A typical fast food diet is like putting impure low octane fuel in an engine.  Avoid the “hit and run junk food”

“An optimistic attitude enhances coping skills and ability to deal with stress more productively.  If we can be more accepting of our current life situation without judging ourselves, and learn from each of our difficulties.. a profound shift starts taking place.   We start to see our situation as a necessary part of our growth and development.  Problems no longer are things we dread and fear but are seen as needed developmental opportunities for us to grow and become more capable and mature* .” (Holzman)  Shifting to an intention and a belief  that I can do it,  helps rewire our brains, trigger more positive emotions and helps us to take more productive and necessary actions to move forward .

Managing the negative, self-deprecating or worrying thoughts that fuel anxiety and feed depression – is personal power.  To do this entails learning the art of inner quiet and creating a space where you can find your “reset” button.  You can achieve this through the discipline of daily meditation practice, which acts as a detox for your energy system (mental and physical).  Ironically the “discipline” is really in doing nothing, learning to still the mind and find the comfortable inner quiet in your body. Wayne Dyer states “You will find your “Self” in the space between two thoughts.

Dr. Andrew Newberg; a radiologist at Penn; one of the nations most prestigious teaching  hospitals and authority on “Neuro-theology” found that even novice meditators  in a study, improved their memories by meditating just twelve minutes a day,  for only a few weeks. Even just thinking about what you value most in life, i.e, compassion, reason, love, peace, empowerment… will literally strengthen the neural connections that enable you to carry those values into the rest of your life” **

References and additional reading:

* Pamela Holzman:   http://www.pamelaholtzman.com/its-not-obsession-its-discipline/

** Fringe.ology  * How I tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – And Couldn’t, Steve Volk;  Harper Collins 2011

The National Wellness Institute at: http://www.nationalwellness.org/