The Healing and the Healer.

An essential part of brave-becoming is cultivating our capacity to sit with ourselves as both the healing, and the healer.

The first-person identity of your recovering sojourner is the healing. You are healing. The second-person perspective of the facilitator of the recovery is assumed by the healer. You are also the healer.

Your healing and the healer have a relationship together. It is not a power dance or a power struggle. It is a relationship between equals. This is the essence of spiritual self-direction; to be able to directly impart the grace, compassion, power and spirit of God unto ourselves, and do us good first before any other. In fact, we must be engaged in this work of self-directed spiritual healing before we can minister to anyone beyond our own person.

Can you hear her speaking gently to you, as you sit beside the path? Can you hear your healer, your sage, your minister, your mother, your medicine woman, dear one?

She is a sentinel to the maelstrom or method of the healings’ process. The healer sits with the healing, and together they patiently untangle the confusing, painful narratives of the past, threading them with patience and diligence like mala beads are threaded on a cord. She sits with the healing as she worries the mala in her trembling fingers, listens as she repeats the story to herself like a prayer, holding the sacred space open on her behalf.

Can you imagine this relationship, my dear one, this symbiosis between the knowing in your self, and the yet to know? Can you create this image in your mind of holding space for yourself, of becoming your most patient teacher, your most wise sage, your most compassionate friend?

Listen. Open. Receive.

Come, sweet brave becoming, and lay your head in my lap just now. Let go of the tangle you clutch in your palm; the mess of stories and memories and betrayals and loneliness and shame and fear. Loosen your grip, you are safe now. You are with the healer, and I have made a safe space for you to rest. There is no judgement here.

Everything you’ve done, and everything done to you? I know you hold these things so tightly, so tightly they pierce you and yet you will not let them go. My darling, just for a little while, let those little sharp stones fall from your grasp – let them fall. Don’t be afraid I will hide them from you as you sleep, or cast them away. I will not betray you. I know when you’re ready, you’ll do the work yourself. Perhaps we will remake them? Perhaps you will build a little altar from them, and move on? I cannot say. This is not my work. I am the healer, you are the healing. Let us only allow them to fall from your hand just now, and perhaps imagine we can spend a little time resting. Be with me, as I am with you, little healing. Everything is all right. You are safe. All is well, and we are well.

This is the voice of your healer. Can you hear her? She is not within me. She is within you, with you now. And she is ready to create sacred space with you, for you. You do not need to conjure her up, or bring her to you from the outside. Her words are your words. Her voice is your voice. Her deep kindness and love for you, is your own. You need only be willing to be open to receive.

……………
(c) Jo Hilder
From “The Healing and the Healer”
– The Book Of the Brave.
Coming soon.

How To Love Your Darkness.

There is a time and season for negativity. I absolutely believe this. There’s a place for seeing things cynically and refusing to be cheered with platitudes and cliches. If you’re experiencing a period where your perspective is decidedly blunt and pessimistic, and you can’t see any good reason to change it, good for you. And I mean that.

Go with it. I often do. I especially found this empowering when I was recovering through cancer and treatment. Fuck all that positive thinking. Fuck all those sunshiney exhortations to just think positive. I didn’t want to be happy and just think positive. I needed to get down with my black thoughts and face off with it all. I didn’t want to make nice for others, or talk myself out of my fears. I needed to go with them down the rabbit hole and see where and what they led to.

It did me good. I’ve seen my dark side and my rock bottom. I hit it arse first and sat there with it, swearing and being a cynical shit and refusing to be cheered up or pulled out of it. I lived in a dark place for a long time, made friends with death and dying, became acquainted with worst possible case scenarios like you might a peculiar new neighbor, and learned they weren’t that scary or peculiar after all. I learned this about my worst case scenarios – sometimes they happen, and when they do, I can do them. I can go there. I am strong. I am smart. I’m also allowed to be scared, cry and fall apart. But I know what to do when they happen. Because I went there. Because I refused to talk myself happy or only think positive.

Truth is, we don’t always get the sunny outcome we are praying for. Positive thoughts have their time and place. But so does your melancholy. Just feel it all. Truly, that’s my advice to my friends who are going through cancer, or loving an addict, or being an addict, or breaking up a relationship, or watching someone slip away. Feel it all. Don’t be afraid. Love all the parts of you, even your cranky, negative, cynical side. It’s still you. However, be careful not to use your negativity to hurt others. Don’t become a bully, or a jerk, to your friends and community. Some won’t cope with your negativity, but lots of them will love it easily. Let them do it. Let them help you love the dark places in you. Love them into the light.

May you be loved into the light today, sweet friend.

The Wound.

Dear one, I want to ask you a few things. May I?

Do you feel innately and deeply attuned to perceptions others have about you? Is your consciousness pockmarked and pitted with little, unidentifiable fears?

Are you smattered with poorly healed, puckered emotional and spiritual scars you rue, but which cannot be tied to any specific incident? Do you believe you are filled with sin so grievous it could never be forgiven? Do you believe all the wrongs committed by you, and those committed against you, have their origins in your intrinsic badness and unworthiness?

Do you use the word “deserve” a lot, either in the negative or the affirmative? Do you find yourself doubting your own judgement on everything? Do you accept blame for mistakes, crimes, misdeeds, shortcomings and faults others point out to you, never exploring the possibility these may not be wrongdoings at all but are perhaps the real-world results of your intrinsic strength, wisdom, beauty and goodness? Is it easy for others to change your mood, and your mind? Are you, my darling, an unwilling, unwitting carrier of shame?

If so, it’s because you’ve learned to be.

For many of us, our welfare and survival depended on it, unless we were fortunate enough to be born into a situation where the goodness, wholeness, and purity of children and the vulnerable are considered holy things never to be interfered with.

Shame is endemic. And it is toxic for humans, and everything we touch.

As we mature, many of us arrive at a kind of resignation about the state of the world, feeling it is somehow different from the way it seemed when we were very young. We feel often the fault for this perception lies with us, and not with something that happened to us, despite our being the beneficiary of a great body of evidence to suggest otherwise. This is just how the world is, we lament, and it’s not a better place now. This is not a great epiphany, sweet heart – it’s a kind of misunderstanding. The world is not an awful place. And you are not a fool. Something happened back there. Something that caused a deep hurt in you, and made you change the way you saw things. You had to do this to survive, and survive you have.

But it has not been without a price. You have a wound, a scar. It isn’t healed, and the pain of it has made you jaded. You’ve been carrying something for these many years, a gritty thorn that’s worked its way to the surface, and beloved, it’s time to deal with it, for good. You have a wound there. Let me see.

Ah, yes, it’s as I thought. It’s shame.

There now, lay still and let the sting subside. Lay still, and let me sing to you. Let me sing these words over you, and you simply be still, and breath. There is nothing for you to do. Be still, and I will sing.

You are good. You are good. You are good.

This is not your fault.

This is not your fault.

The Essence Of Brave.

Understand then, my dear one, the very essence of brave is seeing and truly understanding there Printis no lack in you. You are abundant, you are good, and you are more than enough. You are not weak, you are not unknowing, and you are not powerless. All that stands between you moving forward and you standing still are the beliefs you hold about what you are and what you are not.

What changed, sweetheart, do you think? What happened to make you believe you were the emptiness instead of the sweet wonder that fills it? What went wrong to move you from believing you mattered to believing you did not matter?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is, what is the matter? What is it, my dear heart, if it is not you?

You matter. You are matter. You are not the emptiness requiring to be filled. You are not lack. You are not a space waiting to be occupied by something or someone outside of you. You are the answer to empty space. You are art filling the paper, words filling a page. You are not the empty arms; you are the exuberant love that runs into them. You are the abundance of cycles of living and dying and seasons and weather and seeds and weeds and work and rest turning wastelands into gardens. You are not the void God spoke life into – you are life.

You do not lack anything you need, my love. It is all with you, now.

What would it take for you to dance into the room, jump into the puddle, paint the canvas, create the space, use your voice, take the ground, listen to your gut, be truly content? This is what brave is. It’s taking the empty space you believed was you, and filling it with you, in whatever sphere you find yourself in where you feel you are not enough, or are too much.

It’s coming to and into yourself fully as the answer to every question you believed you needed something or someone outside of you to solve.

It’s ceasing to ask, “What is the matter with me?” instead affirming, “I matter.” There can be no matter with you, if you are matter. If you are matter, all you need is with you. You need only breathe life into yourself, as God breathed life at the first, into the first. Breathe into yourself, my love.

Wake up.

Loving Beyond The Bounds

Does love have no bounds, no limits? Does love know no boundaries?

Love? You just keep loving, keep it up until you hit a boundary. If you find you can love beyond it, do so. If you can’t, turn around and love in another direction. That way, you can be sure your love knows no bounds.

Thank those boundaries when you find them, thank them for teaching you just how much love you have to give, and teaching you how to give your love where it can do the most good, the best kind of good. And for teaching you the limits and the boundaries are not you, not with your love. There’s always more in you, always more to give; your love knows no limits.

You need never feel like you fail when your love meets a boundary. Usually when it does, it’s a boundary that got created because of someone’s unwillingness to love where they might’ve, could’ve. Love anyway, and know no bounds.

Maybe not today, maybe not our love, but someone’s love will take that limit away someday. Say a prayer about it when you meet it. Thank God the boundary isn’t you, and make darn sure it isn’t you.

Your love will come up to the boundaries, that’s for sure. Your love will walk right up them sometimes, stand there taking the measure of them, run it’s hands along them, stand back, walk up and give them a little kick and say, well, I never.

And all we can do is love right up to the boundaries, give them a little push, and if they give, keep loving, If not, love more, or elsewhere, or in a pinch, just love yourself.
………
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

The Rain Bird

I once lived in a house surrounded on three sides by beautiful Australian bush; silvery eucalyptus trees, wattle with fluffy yellow flower balls, wild redgums, stringy barks and she-oaks. And birds; rainforest varieties mostly, but the ubiquitous magpies and currawongs. Indian mynas, whipbirds and bellbirds too.

One morning, I was drawn outside by an unusual bird call. It sounded like a baby magpie, but something wasn’t quite right. The juvenile maggie is almost as big as the parents, and fully dependent for food until quite grown. As I scoured the treetops for signs of a nest, I could hear the familiar bossy calls of the young bird out there somewhere. But something seemed off. The call was louder than was typical, and way more insistent. Rather than issuing its demands in a phrase, with long pauses, this bird was relentless. Squwark, squwark, squwark it went, on and on and on. It sounded like it was close, and I should’ve been able to see the familiar grey and white head and shoulders peeking above a messy bundle of sticks in a nearby tree. I did find a nest, but all I could see inside it was a huge white bird I didn’t recognise; certainly not the baby I was looking for.

Then, to my surprise, two adult magpies rushed down in a swoop to the nest. I realised the strange creature sitting in the magpie nest was actually issuing the baby magpie sound from it’s big, grey beak. The parents were almost falling over themselves to cram great beakfuls of whatever magpies eat into the throat of this huge thing as fast as they could. The big, greedy, white, non-magpie gulped down the offerings, and immediately started up its squwarking again. And off the two harried parents went, presumably to find more of whatever it is magpies eat to feed the large creature sitting in their next, pretending to be their offspring.

I was horrified. And fascinated. What the hell was going on here? Where was the real baby magpie? What was that big white bird in the nest doing, pretending to be their baby? Was this a thing? Or was I watching some kind of weird evolutionary abomination occurring in my back yard?

I was shaken. And angry. I felt for those magpie parents, clearly tricked into thinking they were obliged to run themselves ragged for this big, fat non-magpie intruder.

I went and did some research, and this is what I found.

Channel-billed cuckoos – or Rain Birds – are what’s know as parasitic birds. Parent cuckoos will actively seek the occupied nests of magpies or currawongs, ejecting any eggs they find there, and laying their own in their stead.

They then fly off and abandon the cuckoo eggs to the unwitting nest owners, who care for them and hatch them as if they were their own. The two currawongs are thusly fooled into believing the Rain Bird is it’s baby. They are instinctively obliged to raise the chick, feeding it and protecting it, slaves to its demands, never ever suspecting their charge, which eventually grows to twice the size of the “parents”, is an imposter.

And all the time it pretends to be a vulnerable youngster, evoking the protective, nurturing instinct deep in the parent, sounding for all the world like a hapless baby. By supplanting the original and rightful occupant of the family nest by force and imposing itself and its constant needs onto it’s unknowing hosts, the Rain Bird gets its needs met, grows and prospers. Without conscience. Without qualms. Until the cycle begins again.
……………

Do you know a Rain Bird?

I suspect we all may know one. In fact, perhaps you think you are one?

Rain birds are people who are broken just like everyone, but are stronger, more capable and more awesome than they choose to believe, and project themselves to be. They know they’re flawed and imperfect, as we all are, but they tell anyone who will listen they’re more helpless and bereft than anyone else, projecting an especially broken brokenness. They are the most poor, hopeless and badly done by of everyone in their world, they insist. But they are not merely complaining. Their brokenness is a device for attracting favour and support; emotional, certainly, and any other kind you might happen to have on offer as well.

Thing is, Rain Birds are clever and intelligent. They are smart, funny and good at what they love to do. But their gifts are inverted. They use their considerable abilities not to move themselves ahead in the world, but to posture themselves as weak and needy, so others will give them out of pity or compassion what they could easily attain for themselves.

We all have stuff to deal with, and most of us feel less than or too much from time to time. Sharing our stories and our feelings is generally a healthy thing to do. But what makes a Rain Bird’s story-telling unique is their seeking to gain advantage over others via their stories. For them, their brokenness is evidence they deserve to be given concession or advantage. The advantage Rain Birds seek could be success or promotion to a much-wanted position. It could be inclusion in a group or access to a product or service. It could be personal or professional support, or it could simply be care and nurture. Chronic Rain Birds know no other way to get what they want than to plead their sad, hopeless plight, hoping to attract benefit. They will often move from “nest” to “nest” looking to install themselves under the brooding care of a rescuer, teacher or carer who will “understand” them. They easily lose interest in people or groups who do not affirm and support their belief no one is worse off than they are. Their behaviour will often cause interpersonal and group dynamics to become uneven, and just like the unwitting foster parents of the real Rain Bird, they may burn – or burn out – their rescuer, by continually and relentlessly demanding more than they contribute.

It’s safer for the Rain Bird to ask for concession and charity, because if they lose it, they’ve lost nothing of true worth or value, to them anyway. What they gained cost them nothing, so they’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work, or ceases to be provided. They know there’s plenty more nests where this one came from.

There are many reasons people become Rain Birds. Rain Birds often come from families where the only way to have needs met, or attract attention or affection was to be hurt, injured or sick.  They may be unrealised or oppressed creatives, or tightly budded spiritually or emotionally for a long time. Rain Birds are frequently unhealed victims of abuse. Influences such as addiction can also cloud a Rain Birds insights into just how capable and resources they are. If someone you’ve met, live or work is evoking a sense of pity or compassion in your heart, but with it seems deeply entrenched in self-deprecation, co-dependency or a victim mentality, you can probably assume a Rain Bird is circling in your neighbourhood..

Not giving in to a Rain Bird’s manipulations isn’t about not hearing their story, or  withholding compassion, patience or kindness. There is some truth in all the Rain Bird’s cries for help. But whilst they play from this particular section of the orchestra, they ignore and withhold an equally significant truth. They are a survivor, and they know how to take care of themselves. They often have more resources than you do. If you weren’t around to rescue them, they would be perfectly fine.

The moment you begin to instate boundaries with a Rain Bird, that’ll be the end of that. When you say “that’s enough”, you’re dropped.  And by the time you realise you didn’t help, fix them or make their lives better despite everything you did or offered to do, they’ll have moved on to the next person or place, and because you genuinely believed it was a real relationship, it’ll break your heart.

The way to love a Rain Bird is with you in your nest, and they in theirs. Be their friend, but empower them to live from their own capacity, resources, strengths and wisdom. Support them to take responsibility for their actions, and the impacts they have on you and others. When situations and opportunities arise, remind them about their intrinsic intelligence, courage and insights. Do not be tempted to rescue them, or be positioned into becoming a foster parent or unwitting carer.

The Rain Bird needs constant reinforcement from you their feelings and beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness aren’t special or unique – we all feel too much and not enough at times.  Set firm and clear boundaries between what they say they need, and everything you love and value, because they will have no qualms about eliminating threats from the “nest” in vying for your attention. Don’t allow solving their their problems – real, or imagined – to become a source of self-confidence or ego-building for you. Love a Rain Bird best by speaking consistently to their capacity, reminding them – and yourself – about their track record of survival so far without you.
……….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

The Rain Bird

I once lived in a house surrounded on three sides by beautiful Australian bush; silvery eucalyptus trees, wattle with fluffy yellow flower balls, wild redgums, stringy barks and she-oaks. And birds; rainforest varieties mostly, but the ubiquitous magpies and currawongs. Indian mynas, whipbirds and bellbirds too.

One morning, I was drawn outside by an unusual bird call. It sounded like a baby magpie, but something wasn’t quite right. The juvenile maggie is almost as big as the parents, and fully dependent for food until quite grown. As I scoured the treetops for signs of a nest, I could hear the familiar bossy calls of the young bird out there somewhere. But something seemed off. The call was louder than was typical, and way more insistent. Rather than issuing its demands in a phrase, with long pauses, this bird was relentless. Squwark, squwark, squwark it went, on and on and on. It sounded like it was close, and I should’ve been able to see the familiar grey and white head and shoulders peeking above a messy bundle of sticks in a nearby tree. I did find a nest, but all I could see inside it was a huge white bird I didn’t recognise; certainly not the baby I was looking for.

Then, to my surprise, two adult magpies rushed down in a swoop to the nest. I realised the strange creature sitting in the magpie nest was actually issuing the baby magpie sound from it’s big, grey beak. The parents were almost falling over themselves to cram great beakfuls of whatever magpies eat into the throat of this huge thing as fast as they could. The big, greedy, white, non-magpie gulped down the offerings, and immediately started up its squwarking again. And off the two harried parents went, presumably to find more of whatever it is magpies eat to feed the large creature sitting in their next, pretending to be their offspring.

I was horrified. And fascinated. What the hell was going on here? Where was the real baby magpie? What was that big white bird in the nest doing, pretending to be their baby? Was this a thing? Or was I watching some kind of weird evolutionary abomination occurring in my back yard?

I was shaken. And angry. I felt for those magpie parents, clearly tricked into thinking they were obliged to run themselves ragged for this big, fat non-magpie intruder.

I went and did some research, and this is what I found.

Channel-billed cuckoos – or Rain Birds – are what’s know as parasitic birds. Parent cuckoos will actively seek the occupied nests of magpies or currawongs, ejecting any eggs they find there, and laying their own in their stead.

They then fly off and abandon the cuckoo eggs to the unwitting nest owners, who care for them and hatch them as if they were their own. The two currawongs are thusly fooled into believing the Rain Bird is it’s baby. They are instinctively obliged to raise the chick, feeding it and protecting it, slaves to its demands, never ever suspecting their charge, which eventually grows to twice the size of the “parents”, is an imposter.

And all the time it pretends to be a vulnerable youngster, evoking the protective, nurturing instinct deep in the parent, sounding for all the world like a hapless baby. By supplanting the original and rightful occupant of the family nest by force and imposing itself and its constant needs onto it’s unknowing hosts, the Rain Bird gets its needs met, grows and prospers. Without conscience. Without qualms. Until the cycle begins again.
……………

Do you know a Rain Bird?

I suspect we all may know one. In fact, perhaps you think you are one?

Rain birds are people who are broken just like everyone, but are stronger, more capable and more awesome than they choose to believe, and project themselves to be. They know they’re flawed and imperfect, as we all are, but they tell anyone who will listen they’re more helpless and bereft than anyone else, projecting an especially broken brokenness. They are the most poor, hopeless and badly done by of everyone in their world, they insist. But they are not merely complaining. Their brokenness is a device for attracting favour and support; emotional, certainly, and any other kind you might happen to have on offer as well.

Thing is, Rain Birds are clever and intelligent. They are smart, funny and good at what they love to do. But their gifts are inverted. They use their considerable abilities not to move themselves ahead in the world, but to posture themselves as weak and needy, so others will give them out of pity or compassion what they could easily attain for themselves.

We all have stuff to deal with, and most of us feel less than or too much from time to time. Sharing our stories and our feelings is generally a healthy thing to do. But what makes a Rain Bird’s story-telling unique is their seeking to gain advantage over others via their stories. For them, their brokenness is evidence they deserve to be given concession or advantage. The advantage Rain Birds seek could be success or promotion to a much-wanted position. It could be inclusion in a group or access to a product or service. It could be personal or professional support, or it could simply be care and nurture. Chronic Rain Birds know no other way to get what they want than to plead their sad, hopeless plight, hoping to attract benefit. They will often move from “nest” to “nest” looking to install themselves under the brooding care of a rescuer, teacher or carer who will “understand” them. They easily lose interest in people or groups who do not affirm and support their belief no one is worse off than they are. Their behaviour will often cause interpersonal and group dynamics to become uneven, and just like the unwitting foster parents of the real Rain Bird, they may burn – or burn out – their rescuer, by continually and relentlessly demanding more than they contribute.

It’s safer for the Rain Bird to ask for concession and charity, because if they lose it, they’ve lost nothing of true worth or value, to them anyway. What they gained cost them nothing, so they’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work, or ceases to be provided. They know there’s plenty more nests where this one came from.

There are many reasons people become Rain Birds. Rain Birds often come from families where the only way to have needs met, or attract attention or affection was to be hurt, injured or sick.  They may be unrealised or oppressed creatives, or tightly budded spiritually or emotionally for a long time. Rain Birds are frequently unhealed victims of abuse. Influences such as addiction can also cloud a Rain Birds insights into just how capable and resources they are. If someone you’ve met, live or work is evoking a sense of pity or compassion in your heart, but with it seems deeply entrenched in self-deprecation, co-dependency or a victim mentality, you can probably assume a Rain Bird is circling in your neighbourhood..

Not giving in to a Rain Bird’s manipulations isn’t about not hearing their story, or  withholding compassion, patience or kindness. There is some truth in all the Rain Bird’s cries for help. But whilst they play from this particular section of the orchestra, they ignore and withhold an equally significant truth. They are a survivor, and they know how to take care of themselves. They often have more resources than you do. If you weren’t around to rescue them, they would be perfectly fine.

The moment you begin to instate boundaries with a Rain Bird, that’ll be the end of that. When you say “that’s enough”, you’re dropped.  And by the time you realise you didn’t help, fix them or make their lives better despite everything you did or offered to do, they’ll have moved on to the next person or place, and because you genuinely believed it was a real relationship, it’ll break your heart.

The way to love a Rain Bird is with you in your nest, and they in theirs. Be their friend, but empower them to live from their own capacity, resources, strengths and wisdom. Support them to take responsibility for their actions, and the impacts they have on you and others. When situations and opportunities arise, remind them about their intrinsic intelligence, courage and insights. Do not be tempted to rescue them, or be positioned into becoming a foster parent or unwitting carer.

The Rain Bird needs constant reinforcement from you their feelings and beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness aren’t special or unique – we all feel too much and not enough at times.  Set firm and clear boundaries between what they say they need, and everything you love and value, because they will have no qualms about eliminating threats from the “nest” in vying for your attention. Don’t allow solving their their problems – real, or imagined – to become a source of self-confidence or ego-building for you. Love a Rain Bird best by speaking consistently to their capacity, reminding them – and yourself – about their track record of survival so far without you.
……….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

Negative Thinking – What It Is, And Isn’t.

On Negative Thinking.

So much talk about positive vs negative thinking. But what is it exactly? What are negative thoughts, and why do we need to stop them?

When I had cancer, here’s something I heard a lot – “You just need to keep thinking positively!” After hearing this for about the thousandth time, I began to realise most people didn’t actually believe thinking and speaking positively was going to help me get better. Asking me to think positively was actually for the most part just something to say when they didn’t know what else to say.

But something else became clear to me also, after many years working in cancer supportive care and mental health support.

People were talking about positive and negative thinking as this big thing with immense power over circumstances and people, over minds and metaphysics and the Universe and even over God, but only as it applied to very sick people or people under extreme duress.

In other words, not themselves.

So they would ask a sick person not to talk about their being sick, and make out like being sick and not talking about it definitely helped sick people get better more quickly. Further, they talked about it in such a way, with such fervour and pragmaticism, that if you were sick and talked about being sick, you could be forgiven for thinking just the talking alone was likely to cause a far more rapid and certain demise.

And somehow all this was considered positive thinking.

Nobody ever seemed to think about the consequences of a very sick person never getting to talk about their experience, their pain or ask for help with that, or their believing talking about it was likely to make them sicker and maybe die. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see how this is positive.

Further, the person asking the sick or hurting person to stop being negative often seemed to do so because they felt helpless and inadequate to do very much else, even though it would’ve been so much skin off their nose to simply sit with the person and listen for a while. And the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy which caused a person to say something benign like “You just need to keep thinking positively!” was never considered to be a kind of negative thinking or itself.

So, let’s review what we’ve just learned. Having cancer (or some other physical or perhaps mental illness, or having suffered abuse or realising you’re an addict or a perpetrator and need help) and needing to talk about that is considered negativity, but believing you have no power or capacity to help a person with cancer (or any of the other life-impacting issues above) feel better, and telling them that to even utter a word of complaint, or own their problem, or articulate their fear will make them get sicker and maybe die faster.

And I started to believe maybe we needed some help to work out what what kind of thinking can really be classed as negative, if, that is, negative means –

• unhelpful, and not conducive to getting help
• unhealthy, not enriching or life-enhancing
• incapacitating, or speaking to lack of capacity
• not reflecting the reality of the situation, and
• not connecting people in meaningful ways.

Because when it comes to a person in pain telling another person about that pain, and then the person being told about the pain wanting to run away, or deny it’s happening, or not do anything about it or just not hear it in the first place, I tend to think there’s a lot more in the above list applicable to the latter person just described than to the former.

So, I guess there’s negative thinking, and then there’s negative thinking.
………………………………..

Negative thinking  – what it ISN’T.

• Telling others you have, or describing, a medical or mental illness is not negativity. This is passing on information. Being informed, and being informative, is positive.

• Telling others you are experiencing pain or describing that pain – mental, emotional or physical – is not negativity. Verbalising and expressing your pain to a person who can help you is essential in getting help with that pain. Getting help with your pain is positive.

• Informing others you are an addict or alcoholic is not negativity. Acknowledging you have an illness or area in which you need help, and accepting help and support, is positive.

• Informing someone you are experiencing or have experienced abuse is not negativity. The first step to moving out of and processing the consequences of abuse is reporting that abuse, and describing the consequences and circumstances surrounding it. Verbalising the conditions and results of abuse is positive.

What negative thinking actually is.

• Believing pain and process are not inevitable in life. Such thoughts will cause you to demand perfection and invulnerability of yourself and others in the face of pain and process, vulnerability and imperfection. Expecting perfection of self and others is negative thinking.

• Believing yourself inadequate to render appropriate and generous support, kindness, gentleness, compassion and understanding to a fellow human being in distress. Withdrawing from hurting people because of your fear of inadequacy, or of their pain, is selling yourself short. You have so much to offer, and even the smallest of kind gestures will help. To be mindfully present is to help. To not believe in your amazing capacity to always be able to be kind and compassionate is negative thinking.

• Denial of your own flaws, and your capacity to hurt others, for vice and avarice, is negative thinking. Believing there is such a thing as the “other” is negative thinking.

• Ignoring, neglecting, denying or providing justification for abuse of any kind. Believing this is ever okay is negative thinking.

There are others we could add to this list.

What you’ve probably believed was negative thinking or negativity are perhaps not quite correct, and even unhelpful. We thought it was plain old bad to talk about our pain, but asking a hurting person not to talk about that hurt is like asking a starving person not to to ask for something to eat.

Behind every complaint, every sad tale, every description of illness or abuse, there is a person with a story. The real story may not be the story they are telling you, but stories of pain are always a request for help in some form.  There is a place for affirmations; they can and do work. But the hurting ones’ cry to be heard is not “negativity”; the negative thinking is our belief we are inadequate to offer them more.
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(c) Jo Hilder 2015

Wherein Lies Your Power

I believed my power was in my thinking, in my ability to reason,
In the intelligence of my arguments, in the busyness of my mind.
But when I searched for my power in all these things, it was not – it was not there.

I believed my power was in my strength, in my resistance,
In my courage, my fighting, my winning.
But when I searched for my power in all these things, it was not – it was not there.

I believed my power was in my achievements,
In my here and my there, in my success,
In my striving, my struggling,
and in my doing.
But when I searched for my power in all these things, it was not – it was not there.

So I sat down in the road, with my thoughts, my strength and my successes, and gently I lay them to the side. And I decided to simply be there, fully, with all I was without.

And there, in the dust, in the quiet and stillness, in being compassionate for my self in my search and my sojourn, and that in turn for others, in my being simply in the moment, and being grateful for all I found in that moment with me, in just being, I found it.

For there with me, within and without, lay all I sought and would ever seek. There lay my power.