What is Authentic Relating?

Done well, done in the way our society needs this work, Authentic Relating is not just fun and engaging interpersonal games, but an invitation to explore, in a safe way, the deepest parts of ourselves in a safe community, the parts of ourselves we otherwise have a habit of hiding. The parts of ourselves that are wounded, and holding us back from the lives we really want to be leading. To get to know ourselves, beyond our trauma-informed view of who we think we are. This can be especially tough in the Midwest, where there is a strong amount of cultural and emotional repression ~ more than in other places I have lived. Opening up to yourself can be really scary, emotionally.
I agree with Thomas Hubl that we are all living in a field of “collective trauma.” I didn’t know that before. Maybe none of us does, or realizes the full extent to which that is true. We are all a great deal more traumatized than we realize. Not just by specific childhood traumas (that too), but by social conditioning and the social/emotional environments we were raised in ~ including churches and schools where we were taught misinformation and gaslit for disagreeing, as well as television commercials and media that convinced us we were not good enough unless we purchased products.
The culture we were raised in forced us into keeping up with the fictitious Jones’, and also encouraged bigotry, sexism, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, favored a work-life over a love-life, and the list goes on.
Mr. Rogers is about the only saving grace from the 80s I can think of off the top of my head.
We’re all living in a lot deeper of a trauma-informed worldview than we ever realized. As far as most therapists and life coaches go, it’s the blind leading the blinder. This is troubling. But look around, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I see very few (if any) folks who are actually, truly, legitimately thriving and happy and content with our lives. We all tend to have tendencies to avoid the deeper parts of ourselves and each other. Unconditional Love is a scare resource, Purpose and Meaning rare, and empathy is in atrophy. All of that comes from trauma. It’s not normal, healthy human behavior. All of this is the social and cultural conditions we live in day-to-day.
Authentic Relating Games are more than games. They’re community building and transformational for the type of emotional healing we all need.

OFF THE SPECTRUM

CALL FOR GUESTS on the Podcast

~Message if you would like to be a guest on the broadcast, or share with anyone you know who might~

Intro:
This is a podcast dedicated to giving those of us who see the world differently a voice and place to express our unique perspectives, perceptions and observations.

We strive to show what benefits there are in seeing the world differently, thinking along different lines, and seeing the world through a different lense.

Not all minds think alike. Neurodiversity may be as important as biodiversity. We are looking for guests with any form of unique viewpoints, not just those on the autism spectrum ~ anyone with views that are divergent from the status quo.

Questions for Guests:

What is it like to be you, in your own unique way of seeing the world?

How do you believe others see the world which is different from yours?

What is a useful definition, characteristics of “neuro-typical”?

In what ways do you believe that thinking differently is generally regarded as a positive trait?

In what ways do you believe that thinking differently is generally disrespected?

There is a lot of baggage around the terms “Autism” and “Asperger’s.” Is there less baggage around the phrase “on the spectrum?” How would you define “the spectrum of neuro-diversity” beyond those 2 loaded labels.
What is the value of thinking and seeing the world differently?

What is one or a few ways you see that society and culture we live in could change for the better, for the benefit of all sentient beings?

No More Snooze Button

I’m not apathetic, and I’m not lazy. But I am groggy. “Waking up” in the spiritual sense feels exactly like my alarm clock going off and not wanting to get out of bed to do some bullshit. But I ain’t bullshitin’. I want to beat that alarm clock with a baseball bat, but there’s no more snooze button. We’ve got to wake up and change our habits. There is Purpose in this work. What one habit can I change in my life today, that may cause me to suffer a little more, but is necessary for the future of the earth? It’s like going on a diet, eating right, we may suffer and be hungry at first, but in the long run, we’ll thank ourselves, be healthier. We’re not “good enough” sorry. We have got to push ourselves harder. Give 3 shits instead of 2 about the world we live in. Even if it means some self-sacrifice. It’s time to wake up. We must change. For Mother Earth. Aho metaquiasin!

A NEW SPIRITUALITY

There is a new spirituality taking root in society, one that is based on the notion that thoughts affect reality, rooted in the healing of collective trauma, and whose rituals are based in the ways of Native Peoples. It’s a Shamanic tradition (which is a fancy word for saying it’s Earth-based). In Native Shamanic traditions, the Shaman were the individuals that Western mainstream thought marginalizes as having mental disabilities. Reason being, Western mainstream thought does not allow for the mystical: it’s not seen as rational. The emerging spirituality requires scientific thought to accept that worlds unseen by our five physical senses are equally as real as the ones it has identified so far. The new spirituality is actively seeking open-minded scientists, of which, sadly, there are few. There has been a flip. 500 years ago, scientists were more open-minded than spiritualists. This is no longer the case. The new spirituality is open-minded and inclusive, where mainstream western thought is closed-off and judgmental. However, the new spirituality does not simply believe “anything.” We’re quite discerning. Astrological reports on each individual are often the length of a Bible. The new spirituality recognizes that the Peace that Jesus taught is equal to the Compassion that Buddha taught and that the body, mind, soul yogas that arise from Hinduism are equally as important.

Perhaps above all, the new spirituality holds that Mother Earth (Gaia) is alive, and that nature has equal rights with humans. We believe that every life is of equal value, including plants and animals.

Humans are part of nature. Not separate from it, as the dying patriarchial mentality of western though held at the time when this new spirituality arose.

We honor the New Moon and the Full Moons as Holy Days.
We’re nature-based. Let’s continue to evolve this way of thinking.

Our calendar would be lunar-based instead of solar-based.

LET’S DO OUR PART, AS A PART OF THE “MIDDLE CLASS”

Yes, the world’s so-called “elite” need to stop flying private jets and ruling the world with their greed. And, the rest of us need to get out of the victim’s mentality and waiting for government and corporate interests to change. Let’s lead from the middle, let’s lead by example. Let’s change our ways, as individuals. Let’s hold ourselves to more appropriate standards.

My ancestors, Italian immigrants, came through Ellis Island in search of a better life. The life they found here was a struggle from the start, and they lived in the slums of Chicago for 2 1/2 generations. But all the while, there was the very-American, very human, need to build a better life for themselves. That’s very admirable and respectful. I am turning to that kind of inspiration to move forward in my own life now. It’s not easy to muster in this land of complacent mediocrity, where we do what we’re told to earn a paycheck to keep us in the lifestyles to which we are accustomed, all the while blind, deaf and numb to the consequences our lives of irresponsible affluence. I don’t expect my message to be popular, but I do hope some folks out there have the ears to hear it. I don’t want it to rest on blame, shame or guilt. But one way or another, we have got to change our ways. The American way of life is irresponsible and unsustainable. And we have got to mature & grow up as a society. It’s nothing we’ve done; it’s not our fault, but now we know better, and there’s no excuse for not changing our ways, other than willful ignorance.

LET’S DO OUR PART, AS A PART OF THE “MIDDLE CLASS” To quote Ms. Thunberg, “Change is coming, whether we like it or not.”

The Victim Mentality

I think sometimes when folks say, “Don’t have a victim mentality,” they may be unintentionally implying that we are not victims. But we are victims, all of us, very much so, and that’s important to come to terms with before we can shed the victim *mentality*.

We are victims of collective trauma perpetuated by a society whose values continue to be significantly behind the times. Our values are evolving, quickly, yet those of us who were born into the outdated values system are victims of it.

Having a victim’s mentality implies 2 behaviors:
1) subconsciously acting in accordance with the outdated values that we consciously reject but still govern our actions

2) not realizing that we are victims. This is analogous to gaslighting, or the Munchouzen effect.

The one thing I think we don’t truly realize yet as a society is how very very hard it is for us as individuals or culture to change our lifestyles, to keep pace with new values that are only just beginning to be practiced.

Largely, these fall under the categories of:
1) Emotional Intelligence ~ treating each other with more respect, love and compassion in our close relationships, family, friends, partner(s).
2) Environmentally Just lifestyles. This is exceptionally hard, when societal infrastructures such as grocery stores, and cities built for cars make it exceptionally challenging to make conscious choices.
3) Our consumer lifestyles ~ how easy and addicted we have been influenced to be to click Buy Now.
4) Right Livelihood ~ Arguably, the *majority* of jobs that pay a living wage are not healthy for mother earth. They require involvement in the consumer-economy in order to pay rent and buy food.

The Borg, from Star Trek

I was thinking a lot about this question yesterday. Specifically, it was my “object of meditation” as I went for a walk in the park last night: Do I remember experiencing empathy growing up?

What comes up for me is that there was a feeling that I somehow internalized that feeling empathy was “bad.” I have no idea where that came from, I believe it is a condition of our culture at large. But the feeling of being “too vulnerable” and really feeling the deeper emotions is something in the environmental soup that we live in, which, specifically for Men, is learned to be a sign of weakness.

Solsara in Oregon had a unique way of somehow dissolving those emotional barriers and letting it in. For whatever reason, those “hippies” are onto something with the emotional work they are doing. The culture of the Midwest is emotionally numb in a way that I only found a context for understanding out west.

Oregon is truly as different of a culture from Chicago and Kansas City as Madagascar is from America. There is some “reverse culture shock” I am feeling being back in the Heartland.

The one missing piece of the puzzle that I still am clueless about how to integrate is how to find “right livelihood” (as the Buddhists say) while living up to what I have learned on my journey.

But, to wax philosophical, which is what I am best at, 3 years ago I published my 4th book that should have been titled, “Don’t Quit Your Job,” because that was the opening line, which I should not have edited out. (Maybe I’ll edit it back in and re-publish it under the correct title ~ hell that ain’t a bad idea come to think of it!)

In that book, I gave myself a 3-year mission and my earnings of $100,000. And my 3-year mission was “to become the best version of myself.” Says so right in the prologue. And, to quote Captain Picard, “That’s exactly what he’s going to do.”

How that best version of myself fits into the shitty-ass society he find himself living in, neither he nor I have any idea. Nevertheless, I’ve come far too far to abandon my values at this point.

At some point, maybe my orginal dream of becoming a motivational speaker will come true. But I don’t want to convince people to make a million dollars like that Tony Robbins bastard.

I want to show people what it means to live according to moral integrity and help them discover what moral integrity really means. Cause, to quote Molly’s grandma, “Ain’t no one seem to have that no more.”

Then there’s the captain Picard in me who refuses to blow up the damn ship in “First Contact,” and slams his phaser-rifle into the glass case with all the model Enterprises. “We have made too many compromises already. They destroy entire worlds, and we fall back. The line must be drawn here. This far, no farther!”

In this world, there are Hitler apologists. I think the world needs “White Man Apologists.”

Since the Roman Empire, the Western World has been conquering and decimating all the cultures on Planet Earth. Just like the Borg. No different.

And now the arrogance of the Roman/British/American Triumverate is causing Global Warming. I will not participate. I wonder who I learned to think for myself from? It’s not a trait that pays the bills.

I want to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.

50 years from now, or less, I want to take a rocket into space and see the world after Global Warming has been reversed by the people who had the balls to stand up and say, “This far, no farther!”

God, I sound like a crazy person!
Speaking of God, I told him in no uncertain terms that I will not go to prison for my beliefs. That’s why I draw my own line in the sand.

In the meantime, I have an apartment I can’t afford, and a job painting windows.

EMPATHY: The Missing Emotion

I have been using the word “lonely” as a generic term my whole life to describe a need I didn’t have a name for. I’ve never felt a lack of love in my life. I was raised by amazing parents with unconditional love and undivided attention.

But deep inside me, there was a yearning to feel something I couldn’t put my finger on. There is a richness to empathy, a gooey chocolate cake flavor.

Empathy came over me like a wave of bliss, very strongly, very surprisingly, (and possibly for the first time in my life) at Solsara, in Oregon, a Personal Transformation program co-founded by the creator of Coconut Bliss Ice Cream, Larry Kaplowitz.

There, I learned what I meant by “lonely” because, for the first time, I began to feel its absence.

I believe loneliness an “inner longing” for connection to the “inner feelings” of each other. I believe Empathy is an umbilical chord that allows us to connect deeply and tenderly.

Empathy is the emotion that connects us to one another and opens the portal for true, deep intimacy to blossom. Empathy feels like snuggling up in a warm down blanket and cuddling. In that space, with empathy swaddling us, the feeling of loneliness finally, for once, abates.

Empathy has nothing to do with romantic love. Infact, I think we often use romantic love as a substitute for empathic love, in an American culture that I would characterize as being emotionally jilted.

Solsara’s website describes their program as “The Process of Opening.” For someone from the Midwest, the Portland-based work has a stereotypically “Portlandia” feel to it, and reading through their website, I had a heck of a time understanding what it was they actually do there. It took a fair deal of courage to dive in and attend a 3-day retreat with them at Atlan, a camping retreat space in the Columbia River Gorge.

Solsara’s facilitators expertly help participants do a swan dive into their Shadow Side. It is powerful personal growth work.
The container for the work is effective because it’s deeply, richly teaming with empathy.

I experienced something over that weekend I had never known existed before. It was the antidote for loneliness. I didn’t understand what that was at the time, and even today I am still integrating that experience. It was powerful, and not for the faint of heart.

Empathy and Shadow Work seem to be entwined in the Solsara format, and I believe there is still space for more of us to learn how to do a deep dive into empathy outside of the context of what is referred to as emotional process work. Or “process work” for short.

Empathy for our suffering truly is a deep and powerful healing experience. And I’d like to see more empathy skills being taught around daily relating, infusing empathy into healthy relationship skills.

Being immersed in Empathy for 3 days felt blissful, and it re-wired my brain, in ways I’m still working on, 2 years later.
We need Empathy. And we absolutely need empathy when we’re going through Shadow side

Being back in the Midwest, many of my day-to-day interactions with friends aren’t nearly as Portlandian as they were in Portland, and, I miss that.

There are pockets of community here in the Over-the-Rainbow State, but nothing here matches the emotional depth of Solsara’s work.

I once referred to Solsara as “Landmark for Hippies.”
The stuff that comes out of my mouth, I tell ya. I hope none of it sounds offensive ~ my intention is to draw parallels and put experiences into context.

Only now am I fully integrating that Empathy has always been a missing need ~ especially in the emotionally repressive Midwest. And I think so many of us don’t even realize what the missing need is. Because whenever I expressed I was every feeling lonely, the most common, dismissive, response was, “You’re never alone. You’re enough.”

The empathetic response would be along the lines of expressing tender and gentle curiosity, “What does the experience of loneliness feel like for you? What’s missing? What hurts?”

But if the Midwest is emotionally repressive, then I’d also have to counter that by saying that it can be quite easy to unintentionally offend folks who are hyper-empathic.

It’s a fine balance to create emotional harmony between sensitivity and vulnerability.

As an Article in the Atlantic astutely points out, “Empathy as emotion-sharing draws too much attention to an individual, standing in the way of effective social change.”

There is a unique flavor of individualism in the Portland area. Ironically, the rich empathy I felt there was countered by the feeling that so many tender souls were perpetually preoccupied by emotion.

I see the emotional wheel being one that can be hard to take a step back from. But there comes a place and time when our emotions can and do begin to drown us.

Emotions have much to teach us, and one of those lessons is how we can experience the empathic love we all long for, outside of the shadow work we definitely need to do.

But, it’s only called Shadow Work because there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve noticed many people who seem to get disoriented in darkness.

“You can’t rush your healing,” Trevor Hall sings.

“The way out is through,” they say, and sometimes it’s not easy to keep walking towards the light.

But imagine the feeling of empathic love showing up when we’re healed and whole. Now that’s the chocolate frosting on the cake I’m going for.