Healing Complexes or Taming The Inner Dragon

January 28, 2012

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought; To
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.
 W.B.Yeats

 When he was eighty-three, Yeats wrote this insightful observation that sums up neatly the work we need to do with complexes. They are a little like inner dragons that rest silently in their lair waiting for the moment to strike.

The first step is awareness and the key to becoming aware of a complex is the energy and feelings associated with it. I perform a checklist to assess the following:

  1. Was I completely in control of this energy or did I react?
  2. Did my behaviour have any childlike qualities involved?
  3. Did I notice any body reaction – flushing, irritation, intensity?
  4. Was my reaction out of proportion to the incident?
  5. Is there a desire to ignore the whole thing and pretend it never happened? (suppression)
  6. Did I withdraw or disappear from the situation?
  7. Did I feel shame or embarrassment afterwards?

Checking any of these is likely to indicate a complex is at work.

The second step is exploring the complex. First sit quietly, take a few deep breaths then revisit exactly how you were feeling when the complex engaged; assess how your body feels; notice the energy that accompanies the feelings then ask yourself if this is familiar. Invariably when I ask a client this question, the immediate response is, “oh yes” and examples are quick to come to mind. Begin to record the details and then begin a trek down memory lane to see how far back you can trace the complex. Sometimes you may find a specific incident in your childhood, or it may be a sense of the experience that comes back to you. For example one of my clients realized that as a child he developed a secret superiority to the bullies in his peer group who were taunting him. At the time he learned to suppress this superiority but now it can emerge unconsciously as a reaction to someone he thinks is trying to exert control over him.

The third step is to empathize with yourself and particularly the child who is at the root of the complex. It is not about judging or feeling inadequate. It is about honouring the child’s reaction and recognizing that as children we have few tools to deal with overwhelment and abandonment, so we do the best we can. Compassion and self-forgiveness are essential and at this point I give my inner child a reassuring imaginary hug.

The fourth step is to role-play the response that the adult in you would prefer to make in the same situation if you had not been in the grip of the complex. For example in the Manning Park example the adult in me would like to say something like, “I am sorry I am feeling a little disappointed but I totally understand that safety is paramount and I will get over it.”

The final step is to commit to witness to your own experience and see the complex next time it wants to engage. At first we may be unable to stop the reaction, but if we continue to be fully present we will learn. Steven Covey suggests that between the stimulus and the response there is a ‘gap’, at first it is hard to notice but once we begin to look, we become more aware. For example, recently I returned a rental car early due to malfunction. I was asked if I had filled it with gas. Feeling caught out I said I had forgotten which was not true but in the moment I saw the complex I was dealing with, paused and apologized. I confessed that the truth was I did not want to drive the car into a gas station dragging a piece of undercarriage beneath it. She smiled and waived the charge due to my inconvenience. The universe is an amazing place.

Complexes are like a black hole draining life force, bringing them into the light releases that energy for living. Identifying and healing complexes is not always easy; occasionally I feel I have opened Pandora’s box yet the reward is a sense of liberation, as well as the restoration of energy to your life force.

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Identifying Complexes or “why I lose my cool?”

January 27, 2012

Returning freshly motivated from a workshop with James Hollis I feel inspired to reflect on the journey into the child like responses that emanate from triggered complexes. James Hollis is likely the clearest most succinct teacher I have ever encountered. The workshop I took on the weekend was no exception to this rule. He taught through clear exposition of the principles behind his philosophy, illustrated brilliantly by examples from the dreams of his clients.

He began by explaining that each of us will experience an energy driven narrative that flows from our experience of starting powerless in a powerful world. ‘Basically the world is big and powerful and you are not.” He then  suggested that there were two key responses to this fact: overwhelment and abandonment.

In terms of overwhelment he identified three core coping strategies that we could have developed as children

  1. Avoidance. This shows up as projection, disassociation, procrastination, distraction, suppression, repression.
  2. Birth of a power complex – to take control.
  3. Compliance – to get along, you go along.

In terms of abandonment the strategies are:

  1. Self esteem issues: diminished leads to sabotage and avoidance, over compensation leads to grandiosity,
  2. Power complex, narcissism, no connection with self leads to manipulating others because of emptiness within.
  3. Inordinate desire for connection causes imposition on other and addictions.

“The bulk of our energy can end up being directed at self-anxiety management systems. We end up in service to archaic messages that are both systemic and evasive.” The result is complexes – charged clusters of history that emerge into a present situation but bring energy from the past that is often inappropriate to the situation.

For example, I am backpacking with some friends in Manning Park; our trip is planned for two nights; two of our party have inadequate sleeping bags and we decide to return after one night. I react extremely negatively and stalk off on my own for hours feeling extremely embarrassed by my behaviour. Is this the act of an adult or a child? A complex had been triggered around “it’s not fair” and the child’s disappointment at having to go home before he was ready. In the moment I reacted I am a child again.

So what should we do about these complexes and why do anything? Hollis suggests that “the bulk of our energy being directed at self-anxiety management systems” is the key. When we suppress a complex it becomes a submerged mine waiting to bump into the necessary trigger and explode. It’s not about avoiding the minefields, it’s about disarming the mines. By exposing these complexes to the light, we begin to release the energy used to contain them and it is available for living; as we heal the complex, its power to trigger us becomes reduced; we assume control of our own behaviour.  Surely a goal worthy of pursuit?


The Two Voices

January 24, 2012

Have you ever noticed the two voices in your head?  They love to engage in a debate whenever you are facing a decision. The journey begins when something occurs to disrupt your equilibrium; for example it may start with being passed over for promotion at work or not getting the raise you deserve and you find yourself entertaining the possibility of moving. Then the forces for change begin to muster their strength like an army preparing to invade: you don’t feel motivated, they don’t treat you well, the money should be better, you don’t really “love” what you do, you want to work with nicer, more positive people and so on and so on. You convince yourself that it is time. Then you go to bed, and at 3.00 a.m. you wake up and you hear another voice, “Are you crazy?”

The second voice begins to outline its argument in relentless and challenging terms: this is not the time, the job market is bad, you will lose your tenure, what about the benefits and your security, it could be so much worse, money isn’t everything, maybe this is about you not the job and so on and so on. Welcome to the battleground of thoughts, feelings and fears. Inertia, procrastination and lethargy creep in; you cannot make up your mind and if you allow this voice to assume dominance, then what happens next? The original voice reemerges and starts the spiral chaos all over again. “Like a wild horse desperately circling a field looking for escape”, you are stuck.

The DecisionClarity process is designed for people like you. It helps to create clarity out of confusion using a simple four step model:

1) You need to identify your question and clarify the confusion of thoughts, feelings and fears.

2) Embark on practices to discern your best course of action by engaging your intuition or inner wisdom.

3) Surrender the issue to the universe,

4) Check in for your insight and clarity.

At a recent workshop James Hollis suggested, “”Every morning when you awake there are two gremlins at the foot of your bed – fear and lethargy.” Resolving conflicting decisions can help send them on their way.

For more details on this process visit www.decisionclarity.com


Wisdom from James Hollis – Seattle Jan 14th

January 17, 2012

Stories Told, Stories Untold, Stories That Tell Us

“Our lives course with stories, stories that run through us from ancestors, stories we tell others and tell ourselves, and stories of which we are unaware and thereby tell us. We will reflect on the role these stories play in the shaping of our lives, and how they invite us to greater consciousness of what invisibly informs the visible world.”

James Hollis is likely the clearest most succinct teacher I have ever encountered. The workshop I took on the weekend was no exception to this rule. He taught through clear exposition of the principles behind his philosophy, illustrated brilliantly by examples from the dreams of his clients followed by some experiential work and sharing after lunch. He began by explaining that each of us will experience an energy driven narrative that flows from our experience of starting powerless in a powerful world. ‘Basically the world is big and powerful and you are not.” He then  suggested that there were two key responses to this fact: overwhelment and abandonment.

In terms of overwhelment he identified three core coping strategies that we could have developed as children

  1. Avoidance. This shows up as projection, disassociation, procrastination, distraction, suppression, repression.
  2. Birth of a power complex – to take control.
  3. Compliance – to get along, you go along.

In terms of abandonment the strategies are:

  1. Self esteem issues: diminished leads to sabotage and avoidance, over compensation leads to grandiosity,
  2. Power complex, narcissism, no connection with self leads to manipulating others because of emptiness within.
  3. Inordinate desire for connection causes imposition on other and addictions.

The bulk of our energy can end up being directed at self-anxiety management systems. We end up in service to archaic messages that are both systemic and evasive.

He then demonstrated the power of dreams to reveal our complexes that have resulted from our response to the above narratives. He described dreams as coming from an internal corrective process that can help guide us to self understanding.

Some great one liners. Every morning when you awake there are two gremlins at the foot of your bed – fear and lethargy. When in the grip of anxiety try lowering your energy and grounding yourself.

An experiential exercise to check your family story and how it may have impacted you.

Three columns:  Mother                     Father                           Self

Answer the following five questions based on your perception of them when you were a child. Your own answer is based on your sense of yourself now.

  1. Define the main source of life satisfaction and happiness.
  2. What story did I internalize as their major worry or concern?
  3. How did your mother and father perceive their social role or identity?
  4. What was their understanding of the transcendent?
  5. When they woke in the morning what could their motto or intention have been?

You Snooze, You Lose – stories about intuition.

January 17, 2012

I am wide awake; the bedside clock says 3.00 am; I feel a little annoyed as I have to be up early anyway to catch a flight; I notice some angst about being deprived of sleep but turn on my back, take a deep breath and begin to practice some mindfulness meditation. “Breathing in I calm body and mind, breathing out I am at peace.” Then akin to a lightening bolt penetrating my brain I know why I am awake; I have set the alarm for the wrong time. I check and sure enough had I not realized I probably would either have missed my flight or been in a major panic attempting – likely both.

So what happened? My conscious self had felt completely content that the alarm had been set for the correct time yet at some other level of consciousness I knew I had miscalculated. Intuition is a fascinating gift that works in mysterious ways. We are all intuitive many of us either lose touch with these faculties or don’t know when to trust them. Carl Jung would suggest that intuition is perception via the unconscious. The Oxford dictionary defines intuition as being able “to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning:” I have found no good scientific explanation but my understanding is that the right hemisphere of our brain has the capacity to process data without us necessarily being aware. However we have to be paying attention to the clues.

A friend of mine woke up last night with a dream that the clocks in her house were wrong. In the dream she was discussing with her father the probability of a power failure when she realized that her clock was battery operated. Then she realized that two of the clocks in the house were wrong but one was right. She felt too sleepy to process the dream and drifted back to sleep only to be awakened by her husband twenty minutes after the alarm should have gone off. In some panic as she had an early morning meeting that she was chairing, she leapt into an alert state wondering how this had happened. Only later did she connect the dream to the fact that she had set the alarm for p.m. not a.m.

One of the keys to working intuitively is to pay attention or we can miss the cues. Fortunately my friend has a husband with a superb intuitive clock. I live alone and have no such luxury to depend on.

During 2012 I am offering an evening each month to “Train Your Intuition”. The first one is next Monday January 23rd. For more details see https://ta44.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/train-your-intuition/


Runes and Simple Decision-making

January 12, 2012

I love runes as a decision-making aide. They are symbols derived from the Runic alphabet, used by early Norse peoples, the runes have no clear origin as an oracle although the word “rune” derives from the Gothic word “runa,” meaning “mystery.”  Their popularity today stems significantly from the work done by Ralph Blum, who dedicated himself to the re-introduction of this “sacred oracle.”   He suggests that runes assist “training of sacred Intuition – a new way of listening to the inner voice.”

Although runes are not expensive to buy, it is also easy to make your own  by copying the symbols on small pebbles. Recently I made a set for a friend of mine and then wrote an “idiot’s guide” to their meanings when asking simple questions using Ralph Blum as my resource. Check them out below.


Train Your Intuition

January 12, 2012

Chinese Characters for Intuition

We all possess the capacity to be intuitive but most of us have either forgotten how to access it or feel unsure about when to trust that “niggling feeling”. I believe that when we begin life we are these amazingly creative and intuitive beings and when raised in a loving environment these gifts can develop. However at the age of six or so something terrible happens to us. We go to school where the focus no longer encourages creativity and intuition and we lose something precious. Except it has not been lost forever, it has temporarily become dormant, like a bear it has gone into hibernation. The good news is that we can all learn to reawaken this capacity “to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning:” ( Oxford dictionary definition of intuition)

I plan to offer an evening each month during 2012 to train your intuition. Each evening will last two hours and will offer tools to activate intuitive process. We will work with oracles, meditation, synchronicity, drawing, dreams and many more. If you are interested, contact Trevor Simpson at trevor@decisionclarity.com

First Program last Monday of the month – FULL

Second Program – First session Tuesday Feb 28th

Cost $20.00 each evening

Location: 1938 West 6th Ave, Vancouver V6J1R7. One block and a half blocks west of Burrard, between Cyprus and Maple.

Items to bring: a pen and a journal

A Story about Intuition

One morning after my presentation on decision-making at Inspire Health, a member of the group approached me to share a story that she thought supported my contention of the amazing intuitive power of children. Her story went like this, “We had parked in a large multi-story parking garage but somewhat foolishly had not carefully noted where we left the car. When we returned from our shopping trip we stood in total confusion with absolutely no ides where to find the vehicle. My husband and I attempted to logically reconstruct our entry into the lot but of course by now hundreds of other vehicle and altered the landscape. Meanwhile my four-year old son was attempting to get my attention. Somewhat irritated I ignored his protestations until his voice broke through my resistance, “but mummy I know where the car is.” We watched with astonishment as with unerring focus he led us to the car. He had intuitively responded like a homing pigeon to the exact spot.