The Power of Three Practices

The Power of Three Practices
“Everything is Love’”

Honor the past- Gratitude

To honor the past means to turn over the reins of life to and cultivate deeper awareness of the ancient human experience of our spiritual essence. This experience goes by different names: the “Ancient”, “Great Mystery”, Grandfather, Wakan Tanka, Creator, God, Great Spirit, Holy Spirit, Tao, and so on.
Honoring the past prompts us to acknowledge the struggles of all our ancestors whose collective sacrifices delivered us to our life as it is now. It brings us to a deep understanding that each generation shares a desire to create a better world for their children. It’s a hero’s journey. For many taking this trip means revisiting old wounds in an attempt remember and to remain true to the wisdom of those who have gone before. To accept the burden and gift of carrying the metaphoric ‘torch” passed to us. It keeps us humble and allows us to breathe new life into our souls, roots us to the ground and prepares us to see everything a new.

We honor the past by expressions of gratitude, by remaining faithful to a spirit of solidarity with all that has gone before. Honoring the past grounds us through the darkest of times with strength, courage, hope, and endurance because we understand that we are not alone in walking this ground.


Accept the present- Acceptance

You’ve got to be where you are before you can get to where you want to go.

One definition of Hell is to want things to be other than those things that are in our lives. When we spend too much time whining or complaining about the unfairness and nastiness in life we loose the present, the gift of now.

Living in the “Now” is hard work. It starts with the practice of accepting who we are, and where we find ourselves at any given time. In the now, we are challenged to let go of the broken ways of our childhoods so we can operate as responsible men and women. In the now, we function as co-creators of our lives–collaborating with the Great Mystery–as our life unfolds. In the now, we learn to accept everything that comes our way as opportunity to practice skills and learn information that will be used many times over the rest of our lives so that we can evolve into our better selves. In the now, we make peace with life’s unfairness, brutality, and pain.

It’s about working to change the things we can with the wisdom that comes from honoring the past. “Thy will be done” is the hint that accepting the present will bring it’s own rewards if we let go of doubt, fear, and the demon of control that haunts our life.

Trust the future – Faith

The future is present from the beginning. It takes its form in how we honor the past and accept the present. Waiting in the silence about what is to come and in the stillness about how it will look, and acknowledging the mystery that grows from Gratitude and Acceptance. This allows the future to be what will be. It’s about Faith. Trusting that something bigger then us, The Great Mystery, actually has our best interests at heart, and that when we learn to embrace all aspects of our human experience we are moving toward where our lives were always meant to be.

Everything is Love – Connection

Buckminster Fuller wrote that love is metaphysical gravity. Gravity of course is defined as: a universal force of attraction between all things. Thus the statement is to mean that love is a universal force of attraction between all things and connects all things. It’s Connection… Love is a natural force of nature. It is both power and powerful and it’s available to all. When we live from Love we connect more deeply with all aspects of life and find our way back Home. Home is Love. Home is where we belong. The generations before us have taught us that what is of value in our lives, “Love,” survives.

When we connect with Love- Gratitude, Acceptance and Faith bring us Home.


“It is an Honor to be Alive”
We don’t know how it got started and we don’t know how it will end, if there is such a thing as the “end”. Love tells us to never give up hope. Everything we think, do or say sends ripples out across the universe. “We will be known forever by the connections we leave”.

Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone

Being Who We Are Meant To Be Takes Practice

If we look at our life, very simply, in a straightforward way, we see that it is marked with frustration and pain. This is because we are attempting to secure our relationship with the “world out there”, by trying to solidify our experiences in some concrete way.

Over-spending and approval seeking are two extremely common areas. For the most part we are trying to be “cool” and be someone or something we’re not, in order to get approval or to “Keep up with the Jones” all as an attempt to fit in.

As children, we learned from a young age to seek approval from our parents for the things we said or did in order to feel loved. This is because our need for love and connection is fundamental to our development. However, things happen and there is no way our parents or caregivers can attend to our every need, which ultimately will lead to some sort of upset and wounding. We become conditioned over time to continue to try and get now what we didn’t get then and we seek approval from others or through buying things as a way to fill these wounds. Whenever we don’t receive approval from someone, we feel that original wounding (not fun) and there is an automatic trigger or desire to fill it and fix it.

So, when we get met with ridicule or rejection, it can undermine our view of ourselves and we internalize this kind of negative feedback. We then begin to doubt our own personal worth because it’s touching on that original upset.

Still, there are ways out of these patterns.

For instance, when you act or speak in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, stop and acknowledge it. When you work hard on a project or goal, find a way to reward yourself. It is not egotistical to give yourself acknowledgment. Share what you are doing well with others you trust. The greatest healing will always happen in relationship with others, because that is where our original pain stem from.

The reality is, we are affected by our external environment, so as hard as we try not to embody rejection as a reflection of who we are, it does happen. That is why it is so important to practice self-love and compassion, regardless of what occurs outside of ourselves.

And this takes practice.

Dealing with the Inner Critic

We all have one: that ego or inner voice that judges all our behaviors and actions. Perhaps yours tells you that you are embarrassing or stupid or ugly or unlovable or…….? (Feel free to add your own particular brand of self-punishment here!)

When most people come to therapy they eventually get to a point where they can acknowledge this inner voice. I mean let’s face it. This is the part of us that drove us to therapy in the first place.

It’s crucial however to discern between the different voices, as we usually have at least two inner critics: the adult version that monitors our behavior in a functional and useful way, and the ‘young’ version that represents our insecurities and fear of rejection. Or as I like to call them, our Suspicions of Selves (SOS).

The adult version is much easier to negotiate with, as it is mostly a thinking process that comes relatively late in our psychological development. It allows us to adapt morally, and does so frequently, through a process of thinking, discussion and engagement with others, with the ability to feel without being overly reactive.

[pullquote_left]The ‘young’ version is the one that gets us reactive and all in a tizzy, and is far less easy to understand or engage with. This is because it’s our ego’s defense.[/pullquote_left]

We all have a natural drive for togetherness and individuality. “Togetherness” meaning that human need for connection, and “Here”(within the context of the article) meaning with our caregivers. And individuality, which is that force to expand and become who we are. As a young child we are completely dependent, and it’s a biological imperative to survive.

Therefore when a choice has to be made between individuality (being who I am) and togetherness (being connected to my parents), a child will sacrifice self in favor of togetherness (because abandonment means death)

This is how we take on those suspicions about our selves.

We start to learn very quickly to adapt our behavior while sacrificing self to make ourselves more lovable to others, or at least to get the “kudos” that we need for our psychological survival. We learn through this process: which parts of us we believe are acceptable and which parts of us we need to keep to ourselves.

We start to internalize the judgments of others in order to make sure that our behavior gets us the “kudos” that we think we need. This develops the inner critic or ego, which keeps us in check in order to keep us safe and get us love. We pretend to be someone we are not in order to maintain connection and survive.

That ego voice or inner critic will often be harsher on us than anything we experience from the outside world.

We will never absolutely rid ourselves of this ego voice: it is an integral part of our psyche. If we argue with it, tell it to go away, it becomes more entrenched and more firm in its mission to protect us from the big bad world. We need to develop a relationship with it, understand its motivation, be respectful of the way it has taken care of us and quietly sit it in a chair when it wants to jump up and down and grab our attention.

If we stop, sit and listen there’s an important message that the inner critic is telling us. And that’s how to evolve…..


What’s the Secret to Dealing with Anxiety?

Is there a “secret” to dealing with anxiety?

Many of us come to counselling because we want to learn how to manage our anxiety. For those of us who suffer from bouts of extreme anxiety, we often think there is a secret to life that we just haven’t learnt yet: a secret that will let us get on with our lives without ever feeling anxious again.

This isn’t exactly true. Feelings of anxiety are fueled by the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and are a completely normal and natural part of the way we respond to the stresses of everyday life. A lot of therapies and therapists look to rid us of anxiety, but they miss the point.  Our stress response is nature’s way of keeping us alive and out of danger! So it’s not that we need to rid ourselves of anxiety, it’s how we’re interpreting it.

It operates like a ‘thermostat’, meaning; we get used to a certain ‘temperature’, based on our family system, and anything else feels foreign. We literally posture ourselves within all our relationships to keep the ‘perfect temperature’. And that includes the things on the positive end too. (How good can you stand it?)

That means we need to develop a new relationship with our anxiety, it’s only then that we will learn to expand beyond it. We are so pain-avoidant, and have no idea how much suffering we create in our avoidance of feeling legitimate pain.

Now there are some basic principles of self-soothing that once you get the hang of will make a great difference between normal, common-or-garden level anxiety and the kind of anxiety that cripples you into hopelessness and inaction.

A Beginner’s Guide to Counselling and Therapy

What should I talk about?

The short answer to this, is of course, is that you can talk about anything you like. Absolutely anything at all. This is the joy of the therapeutic relationship: the counsellor is there to think about you whilst you are there to think about…, well, you. We work together to explore what’s going on for you in the moment. And all that time is dedicated to, guess who? Yup,you.

You won’t get this very often in any other relationship in your adult life, so you may as well make the most of it. Talk about your boss, your neighbor or your partner. You can talk about your fears, stresses, struggles or your family. You can talk about whatever it is – and I mean whatever – that is taking up your attention right now. It might be a specific problem – usually this is why you have come to counselling in the first place – but it might just be something that is sitting at the front of your mind and you don’t really know what to do with it. So how about you let someone else help you to make sense of things.

Now if all that doesn’t sound great enough, here’s the really good bit: you don’t need to worry about what to talk about because it’s not your job to make sure the sessions are therapeutic.  It’s my job, as your therapist, to keep an eye on the therapeutic process and make sure that the content is dealt with in a therapeutic way. So don’t be surprised if you talk about some struggle and I decide to ‘explore things further’ and wonder whether this has anything to do with your family system …which might have something to do with the feelings that are coming up for you…which just might be related to how you experience yourself in the world and in relation to other people. Get the picture?

So once you have realized that you are not in charge of making this counselling thing work, and have no doubt breathed a heavy sigh of relief, you might ask yourself ‘Is there anything that I really ought to talk about?’ This is a definite yes: you ought to talk about things that trouble and concern you, things that you feel hold you back or don’t like about yourself and things that you feel scared of talking to people about. As your counselor, I am the person who won’t judge you, shame you or make you feel inadequate for having these feelings. Chances are, they all make sense given your story.

With all that said it is important to understand that although you are not responsible for maintaining the therapeutic process, it’s really important to recognize that it is not my job to fix everything, find your solutions for you or take responsibility for you feeling better about things. All of that is still yours I’m afraid, lovely as it would be to have someone in our life who was responsible for making everything better.

At some point in the first couple of sessions I may just say ‘I’m not going to give you advice or fix things for you’ and you will probably think ‘so what exactly is it that I’m paying you for?’ And the answer is that I’m here to make sure the conversation is a therapeutic one and not just the kind of chat you might have down at the pub with your friends. So if ever counselling does start to feel like the kind of chat you would have with your friends then feel free to ask me how I think the therapy is progressing.

After all, you can talk about anything you like.

Three Steps to Forgiveness

The process of forgiveness essentially consists of three steps that lead us from our ego back to love and our higher self.

Most of us grew up believing that you forgave by overlooking something that we believe actually happened and by doing so we would see the error that someone has made and attempt to overlook and forget about it.


When in fact we need to recognize that it is our thoughts about the situation that we need to forgive. What we made up about ourselves because of it.

You see we give everything the meaning it has for us, and therefore it is our interpretation of any situation that needs to be forgiven. So, it’s all about having ‘a little willingness’ to look at our unconscious, limiting thoughts, feelings and beliefs in order to release them.

If it’s true that “We are all Spiritual beings having a Human experience”, then whatever happened or happens to us in our lives on a form level can’t actually hurt us in anyway. It’s not to say that the behavior or event didn’t happen, but what we believed about ourselves as a result of it did not. Our true self, our spirit, was never hurt or damaged or wounded in any way.

“Well that’s all fine and great!” you say, “But how?”

Step 1

The first step entails the recognition that what we have attacked and judged against in another is what we have condemned in ourselves. That means we need to take a nice big bite of humble pie. Not an easy thing to do for sure.

You see the ego’s job is to divert our attention away from ourselves and, by convincing us that it is not inside us, we devote our attention to correcting the problem where it is not. All projection has this as its aim: to be a distraction or smokescreen so that we may never look within to where the problem truly is. What the ego does not reveal, of course, is that beyond this smokescreen lays our connection to our higher self, which is always with us. While this step does not resolve the problem, it at least leads us closer to its resolution.

Step 2

The second step entails our understanding that what we made up about ourselves, too, represents a decision, and one that can now be changed. It comes from a mistaken belief about who we are, and correction is the key to our healing. This shift is not something we can do by ourselves, but it must be something we want. Choice is our most powerful tool.

As long as we continue to believe that there is something inherently wrong with us, experiencing love becomes impossible. There is no way we can hold to this ego view of ourselves and at the same time feel loving and connected to our higher self. Love must then wait behind the veils of guilt and hate, just as peace cannot be experienced where there is fear and conflict.

Step 3

If we’ve actually accomplished both steps 1 and 2 then the door to step 3 naturally opens. Letting Love in is quite possibly one of the most terrifying steps for most.  It means we must release all control and surrender completely to it.

The fact remains that if we could undo all the negative beliefs we held about ourselves we wouldn’t need to forgive. We would know that we are whole and complete no matter what. So we learn to forgive rather than condemn, and to see that nothing has been done to us because we, in fact, have done this to ourselves. We realize that we are not the victims of the world we, but rather of ourselves, and that we now can look at this differently.

In the fist step we forgive the other, the second we forgive ourselves, which then opens the way for our anger and guilt to be replaced by Love, the final step in forgiveness.

Craig Wanless, RPC