Posted by: David M. Hazen | July 11, 2017

Steps 4 to 6 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

STEP FOUR

Step-4This step is most likely to stop us from going any further because we are saddled with the toxic shame that has been handed to us by our cultural environment. However, practicing this step is our golden opportunity to abandon that mud-slinging story and jump to a higher perspective. The goal here is to see that we — and everyone else — are neither all black nor all white. We are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, and naming them makes it possible for shifting into acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude about ourselves.

This shift is both subtle and profound, because our self-understanding paves the way to empathy for our brothers and sisters who appear to be so far away from our world view. For most people it will be like water wearing away the stone, and we may eventually encounter an outpouring of grief for the history of unrealized human potential.

These are examples of the behaviors that we may have used to foster separation:

Bluffing, Arrogance, Controlling, Manipulation, Laziness, Guilt, Dishonesty, Self-centeredness, Self-pity, Depression Jealousy, Frozen feelings, Self-Isolation, Blame, Resentment, Distrust, Impatience, Criticism

Equally important, these are examples of the behaviors that we may have used to foster connection:

Willingness to listen without judgment or giving advice; Honest self-disclosure, vulnerability; Humility, awareness of belonging; Surrender to not knowing the answer; Asking for help; Relaxing hyper-vigilance (fortress mentality); Detachment from perfectionism; Viewing mistakes as opportunities to learn; Acceptance and forgiveness of self and others; Self-care, self-respect; Repair of damaged relations, making amends; Co-creating solutions that serve the needs of all stakeholders; Gratitude; Compassion; Making requests for specific actions with the willingness to accept any response.

A good place to begin is to simply write down

  • why we might be anxious about making such an inventory,
  • how our powerlessness over oppressive situations might be related to our ineffective ways of connecting with others,
  • what barriers may be blocking our heart’s intelligence,
  • and how we deny our interdependence with our systemic context.

We do this exercise of self-examination for our own benefit, not anyone else’s. In order to dig deep into our own psyche which has remained obscure to us for so long, we do it gradually, allowing insights to surface spontaneously by not rushing through this step. We also make sure that we complete a balanced picture of ourselves by including all our efforts to connect with others.

Ideally, we will do this with the coaching of a mentor who has preceded us with their own self-inventory, and the mutual support of a wisdom circle, peers who are engaged in the same struggle of self-understanding.

STEP FIVE

Step-5When we collaborate with another person to validate our self-perceptions, we take the first baby steps toward healthy relationships not only with others but most importantly, with ourselves. Sharing our stories of secret inner judgments, opinions and accusations that may have harmed or distanced ourselves from others shrinks the size and power of our shame. A new self-respect based on honesty begins to grow.

We can only lie to ourselves. Our good friends can instantly detect when we are rationalizing some outrageous idea or denying the truth. It is very important that we choose a friend who has previously experienced this step themselves, because they understand why gentle listening and soft feedback will increase the probability that we will restore our own dignity from what we hear ourselves saying.

This is not about self-humiliation. This is about acknowledging and discovering our normal, natural human failings that apply to everyone. In doing so, we humbly see that we are not super-bad, nor are we super-good. We are engaged in the struggle to be fully alive. 

In working this step, we will see our own inner mechanisms, our analytic processes, that lead us to separation from others. We will see the chains of reasoning based on our dependency on our parents, necessary childhood survival strategies that no longer serve us if we are to be mature adults.

We can take any behavior and “drill down” to the rationale, the belief and the feelings that create the impetus for it. For example,  either in writing or with a friend asking the questions, as quickly as possible, answer:

  • “My undesirable behavior, ___A___ , happens because I want or need __B__.”
  • “I want or need __B__ because I think, believe, or feel __ C __.”
  • “I think, believe, or feel __ C __ because __D __.”
  • REPEAT, digging for deeper reasons in the causal chain.
  • When a strong feeling begins to arise: “I am feeling tension, heat, tingling located ____ in my body.”
  • “I want ____”
  • “I am afraid of ____”
  • “I don’t have to believe ____ because _____”
  • “I am a person who can choose because ____”
  • “I don’t have to behave like __A__ because ____”
  • “I feel better because ____”
  • Often, we cannot name our feelings because we lack the vocabulary words for them. A feeling word list can be very helpful, and can easily be found by searching the internet.

STEP SIX

Step-6Our goal is to surrender our struggle to change ourselves into a better person, and to simply allow it to be, to trust the process. The work of achieving the freedom in which our best qualities shine forth has to do with letting go of our defiant desire to look, sound, and act in way that others would judge to be good, strong, or virtuous. When we surrender to a process greater than anything we could devise from our own rational perfectionism and our old, fierce self-reliance, then we are able to feel a strength and peace that we probably never expected.

We feel supported to simply be who we are right now when we relax the voice of the inner critic. In its place, we attend to the evidence of a benevolent, intuitive life-energy in our heart which motivates and guides us to simply do the next right thing.  We no longer carry our heavy baggage of toxic shame. We can forgive ourselves, and we can forgive others because we understand  ourselves and our social environment so much better. We see for perhaps the first time how much love and support is available to us.

This could be extremely threatening to all our defenses — our ego identity of separateness — that we have learned from the “school of hard knocks.” It could be very terrifying! At first. We can get used to it. We can focus on the feeling that we belong, that we are accepted just as we are, and that our intention is simply to allow that love and forgiveness to grow and expand. We don’t need to fix, manage or control it.

Questions for this step:

  • What feelings arise when you think about surrendering your struggle to be a better person?
  • What evidence do you see for the intuitive motivation and guidance for you to do the next right thing?
  • What confidence do you have that your best qualities of character will arise from letting go of your perfectionism?
  • Which one of your character flaws will be the most difficult for you to accept just as it is? What do you anticipate might happen if you did accept it?

Steps 7 to 9 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

Posted by: David M. Hazen | July 5, 2017

Steps 1 to 3 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

I want to present practical, tangible, do-able and easily understood practices for creating connection and a sense of belonging.

Why? I believe it may be possible for ordinary people to realize that they, with others, have within themselves the ability to build a culture of peace, and in fact see the only way it will be built is from the inside out. My purpose is to assist whoever is willing to move from despair to hope.

I am presenting a series of steps that are modeled after the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous because I don’t know of anyone who does not suffer from the effects of the addiction to “domination disorder,” which is another name for the many forms of the mania for control, violence and the vanity of self-importance. I have chosen plutocracy to represent the acme of that disorder because so many people can readily identify with the damage that it causes, and there are any number of possible names that could be used. In part, plutocracy comes to the foreground around the celebration of America’s founding on July 4th, when so much is usually said about freedom. Plutocracy is a system of mindless, heartless ownership of other human beings that is enslaves both owners and owned.

The unspoken messages of slavery, domination and violence are “Get away from me, I cannot tolerate your presence, I cannot communicate with you, I am not in community with you, you do not belong to me.” It is a message of extreme distrust that justifies any means necessary to control other people. It is a message of dis-connection.

These steps, then, are the work of re-union, of love. It is neither quick nor easy! This work takes concentration and discipline in order to closely examine our hyper-vigilant defense mechanisms that have protected us from shame and trauma, and allow those defenses to relax.

I suggest that you initiate an independent fellowship of recovery from our culturally-conditioned dependency on violent thoughts, words, and deeds using these Steps (Affirmations) of Personal and Global Peace in combination with self-disclosure in a safe group environment, a small weekly discussion group of friends for keeping each other encouraged and accountable for working each step.

Let us begin, then, with

Step One:Plutocracy-Step-one

We are not a free country in America. We have the largest percentage of our population in prison of any nation. In reality we are all in a prison of our own making because violent thoughts, words and deeds, coming from the desire to be right, build the walls of solitary confinement. Do we want to be right, or do we want to belong to the human race?

These are questions that may bring forth our admission of powerlessness:
What are the typical situations in which I feel oppressed?
In what ways have I become numb to witnessing the oppression of others?
How would my life be different if there were more collaboration and less conflict?

Do not despair about feeling powerless. This is just the beginning. What we discover as we work ALL the steps is a new source of incredible power, beginning in

Step Two:Step-2

Integration of our rational, language-based thought and intuitive, wordless, emotional capabilities can bring us strength and peace.

When we are faced with threats to our existence, we need more than historical, logical or analytical intelligence. While that kind of thinking can be very clever at solving some problems, it also tends to create boundaries and limitations, or dis-connection from vast and helpful resources.

Research has shown there are more signals flowing from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. Listening to heart and body-centered intuition adds the vision, courage and wisdom we need to risk new behaviors that avoid the repetition of past mistakes.

Throughout history, as Gandhi observed, there have been tyrants who oppressed and violated the dignity of others, yet they have always failed because they lacked heart intelligence. Gandhi had the ability to transcend the obstacles with which he was presented and convert them into opportunities by establishing right relationships.

To do the same we need the connecting abilities of empathy, love, patience, appreciation — even joy and forgiveness — qualities of character that are associated with the heart. In order to thrive, we need to let go of our rational tendency to be hyper-vigilant that is embedded in a defiant, fortress mentality of expecting worst possible outcomes.

Trusting that we are continuously having our needs met by our intuitive ability to adapt and re-arrange relationships and situations leads to a lifestyle that is confident, resilient and inter-dependent. It ends our self-identification as victims and makes it impossible for plutocrats — or anyone else — to control us.

Allow yourself to simply accept the first (intuitive) guess that arises in response to these questions:
Who or what is this growing and expanding aliveness within me?
Who or what inspires me with feelings of love or awe?
Why am I here?

If we can dig deep for the answers to these questions, we have the strength to move on to

Step Three: Step-3

For this to work, we need to re-program our routine thinking of ourselves as separate beings. If we make a daily commitment to let go of expectations and control of other people and situations, we will start to hold down the “on” button of understanding and connecting more completely with others. Doing so will allow us to trust in the energy of the present moment in order for our goals to fit more perfectly with the supportive context without which we would not exist.

Letting go of the struggle against external enemies — who appear to be not our brothers, not our sisters — and our status as victims is not easy because it locates the primary enemy within ourselves, the last place we would want to find it. As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character, Pogo, said: “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”

These are some questions which will help us become aware of how important it is for us to join the human race as “one of them:”
When has my distrust stopped me from working with others?
When have I been so uncertain about what to do that I asked for help?
How would my life be different if I were more patient, more present, with my immediate and extended families?

Steps 4 to 6 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

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