Cases of Mistaken Identity

<Nov. 26/10>

Been meaning to write about this phenomenon for a while.

A dream I had last night made these thoughts come to the surface as soon as I woke up & recalled it. I’ll spare you the details, although it’s a rather oft-repeated theme in my personal dream life.

Everyone has heard about “cases of mistaken identity.” I think an awful lot of us are victims of the phenomenon, yet with little or no conscious awareness of it.

What I’m referring to, to cut to the chase, is that I think large numbers of us relate to our spouses/partners as though they are the mother or father with whom we had such vastly emotionally complex dealings as children. If you are one of the lucky few on the planet who had a “perfect” childhood, with “perfect” parents, in some lovely Waltonesque or ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family, well – hey, 2 things:

  1. Lucky you! You’re about as common, I suspect, as the long-extinct dodo bird!
  2. You probably won’t understand what the heck I’m talking about here.

I don’t really need to say a whole lot about this. I think we all have to wrestle with this in our own way, on our own time.

I personally seem to have a pretty intimate acquaintance with the phenomenon – from inside out & outside in & 6 ways to Sunday, as they say. I’m not going to share any particulars, because making this “personal” is not my point. I’m talking about it because of its seeming-universality. It seems to be something an awful lot of us are wrestling with, one way & another…

Most of us come from dysfunctional families. It seems a lot of us have lives in which there are a fair number of “elephants in the room.” I’ve had my own gutwrenching experiences with elephants – & I’ve lived with some… & I think there are plenty of them around.

I occasionally see folks whose elephants are so gigantic, they look to be squeezing the life out of the human beings who are trying really, really hard to skirt around them without winding up on a psychiatric ward (& I’ve seen enough of psychiatric wards, what with one job & another I’ve had over the years, to know that there isn’t liable to be much help found there).

It’s painful to watch this stuff from the sidelines (even more painful to be right in the midst of it, of course!!) – & I’m a much bigger fan of joy & possibility & singing & changing the world than I am of numbing pain & misery & scarcely being able to breathe for all the neurotic nonsense one is having to dance around on a daily basis.

So…good luck, everyone. All of us! Wouldn’t it be cool if we’d all work on creating a personal life (& world) in which, if there must be some “elephants in the room,” at least they are small ones? Here’s to baby elephants!


p.s. I guess you could say that one of the purposes of our lives is healing. Seeking (& working on) our own healing & all the while, as we work to heal ourselves, helping to heal everything & everyone around us. The planet itself too, of course – since we humans are maybe something like the planet’s eyes & ears & hands & legs (& consciousness, but…oh dear me, if I get going down that road, I’ll never get stopped!)

p.p.s. I was about to suggest some books I think can help couples who think they might want to understand & wrestle a little with the mistaken identity “elephant.” Two I can recommend are Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want & Martin Rovers’ Healing the Wounds in Couple Relationships. (John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is a pretty helpful read as well. & Byron Katie’s Loving What IsFour questions that can change your life is indeed potentially life-changing!)

p.p.p.s. Some fascinating authors on the subject of consciousness & perhaps the uniqueness of human beans – I mean beings – are:

  • Thomas Berry
  • Matthew Fox
  • Sister Miriam MacGillis
  • Tom Harpur
  • Eckhart Tolle

& oh yes, I could go on… (Check here for lots of great book recommendations.)

Since the personal is indeed political, there is lots of useful spillover from one to the other with all of these books, of course.

'Quote of the day' with this post: “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

We Are ALL Impossible

The words “So-&-So is impossible” came into my head one day recently – & I was very surprised with myself at having articulated this thought, considering that the person I was thinking of is someone I admire & respect & like enormously.

It wasn’t a very long leap from that thought to “Hmm. So am I. So are lots of people I can think of, in one way or another. Hmm. I guess we all are…”

And is it not so??

We all have faults, problems, neuroses, idiosyncrasies & habits that can and do drive our friends & loved ones nuts.

Most of us are pretty quick, I think, to point a finger at everyone else’s faults, problems, neuroses & irritating habits – instead of all of us just accepting as a given the fact that we’re all a royal pain in the neck sometimes (often, even) – & getting on about the necessary business of healing – ourselves, & the world (presumably, as we heal ourselves, we do heal the world? I’m not sure there is any other way it can happen).

Well. This is not particularly earth-shattering or profound – but I just thought I’d share the thought since it kind of occured to me that, if we would all acknowledge we’re all impossible – lots of situations & challenges we face are seemingly “impossible” also – yet we really don’t have any choice but to put one foot in front of the other & do our very best on this lifelong quest of healing, do we?


You CAN Heal Your Life

<December 2008>

Tons of people are already familiar with the astonishingly inspiring work of Louise Hay – author of the book You Can Heal Your Life, first published in 1984.

There is now also a DVD by the same name, and it’s a mind-blower! I’ve just watched it for the second time, and have ordered multiple copies to give as Christmas presents (it only costs $20, and you can order it on-line).

The DVD is awesome. It features Louise Hay telling her own amazing, inspiring story and life – but not just Louise Hay. It also has appearances by (Dr.) Christiane Northrup, (Dr.) Mona Lisa Schulz, Wayne Dyer, Gregg Braden – and many other equally wonderfully inspiring individuals.

They all back up Ms. Hay’s confident assertion that no matter what has happened in your life – no matter how deep-seated, numerous and stubborn your “wounds” – you can indeed heal your life!

Not only can you heal your life, only you can heal your life. No one else can do it for you or to you – it cannot be done against your will. It is completely and utterly up to you.

Now, lots and lots of us don’t really seem to want to heal. Family therapist Bert Hellinger explains this seeming mystery in his excellent book Love’s Hidden Symmetry – What Makes Love Work in Relationships.(1)

Some of us, apparently, are quite content to be unhappy. I don’t spend a great deal of time focusing on this, as there are so many more interesting, enlightening, energizing and inspiring ways to spend one’s time.

I do believe – down to my toes – the truth behind the assertions of Louise Hay and her small army of colleagues and happy, healed friends and acquaintances. I’ve written plenty of other items that speak to this in one way or another.

I expect some people ask themselves why I keep on and on with my own activism and attempts to help myself and others find healing. Given the truly grave situation the human race now finds itself in (and which, of course, we have caused), only healing strikes me as a worthy enterprise to spend my time engaged in. It is no secret, surely, to anyone, now, that our own extinction is a real possibility.

What could change us – turn us off the trajectory we’re on?

Healing. The healing of this planet can only be brought about by our own healing – not a radical idea at all to Buddhists, whose beliefs have always emphasized exactly this: we cannot heal anyone else, nor can we heal or change the world single-handedly. We can only heal – and change – ourselves.

What a lot of us have come to know is that, as we work on our own healing, we free up energy that can happily be put toward helping others and the world. And we can change things; we are changing things.

Life is not some pretty fairy tale, of course. My own life is no “happily ever after” story – although I do often lay claim to being one of the happiest people I know.

I make my fair share of mistakes and missteps, trip over my own feet all too often, and step in largish piles of doo-doo more than I wish for, exactly, too (sometimes rather spectacularly, I might add!?). Far as I can tell, though, that’s merely the human condition – and I am all too clearly and fallibly human.

Buddhists see life as “a joyful participation in a world of sorrows” (quoted in Pico Iyer’s delightful book The Open Road – The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama).

Oprah Winfrey has a column in her monthly magazine in which she regularly muses on what she “knows for sure.”

One thing I know for sure is this: when I work passionately – on my own and with others – to help other people, and on the wildly serious work of “saving the planet,” it makes me feel like a million bucks. It feeds me – rewards me – challenges me – energizes me – and I am not about to quit.

Like tons of people, I had a somewhat less-than-Walton-ish childhood. I could let it keep sucking me down, but I choose not to do that. There’s so little fun in that, hmm?

Tons of inspiring people who’ve had wildly challenging things happen in their own lives (to put it mildly), are now doing truly mind-blowing amounts of good for millions of people. People like Louise Hay and Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie and … well, the list is long, and it’s growing longer all the time.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Suffering is the spiritual teacher.”

The lesson is that we needn’t stay mired in our suffering – that misses the whole point! Suffering is the motivator to make us grow. It’s the fertilizer

Well, I could go on and on, but I believe I’ve made my point.

You can heal your life; it’s your choice!

Why not do it, and come join the party, hmm?


P.S. This healing, by the way, not only won’t cost you a red cent, it’s as close as your own thoughts. Check it out! (What do you have to lose??) I’m convinced the Universe is ready to meet us more than halfway – but we do have to take that first step… Read Louise Hay’s book, or watch the DVD – you can’t help but be powerfully inspired by it!

P.P.S. I’ve donated a copy of the DVD to my local library, so others can see it without having to buy their own. Hurray for libraries, hmm?

P.P.P.S. You can watch a 4-minute trailer of the film here

(1) In his very, very interesting book Love’s Hidden Symmetry – What Makes Love Work in Relationships, under the heading “Understanding ‘Resistance’ as Misplaced Love,” Bert Hellinger explains that “clients have a strong tendency to use their strength to hold on to their problems and to avoid solutions.” And that “Therefore, finding solutions to our problems is threatening and unpleasant.” He goes on to say “Resolution and happiness seem dangerous because we believe they’ll make us lonely. Problems and unhappiness, on the other hand, give a feeling of belonging. Often this kind of belonging is more important to people than happiness.” Fascinating book!!