Book Excerpt

From Healing Your Life by Paul Ferrini

Violence begins in our hearts and minds

Violence begins in our hearts and minds. It extends outward into our families and communities. It plays out in wars and genocidal actions. It permeates the collective consciousness. People want to kill and exterminate what they don’t understand and accept. They want to destroy the shadow in others. They demonize each other so that they don’t have to feel the pain of their trespass. They think they are killing gooks or devils, not human beings. But in truth, they are killing their mothers and fathers. They are killing their children. They are killing their brothers and sisters.
     All because they hate themselves. All because they have not been able to look at their own shadow with compassion. All because they never learned to bring love to the wounded child within.

Shortcuts to Healing

Many people try to find shortcuts to healing, but these shortcuts always involve some form of denial. They try to make the pain go away, instead of embracing it. The ego always has a plan for our redemption that makes the wounded child jump through hoops and reinforces his belief that he is damaged goods and needs to be fixed. Of course, none of these plans work.
     The only thing that works is love and acceptance. Through love and acceptance we build a relationship of trust with the child. And, gradually over time, he is re-parented and grows up healed and empowered. This is a process that often takes years, not days or weeks or months.

Pain is a wake-up call

The difficult but important truth is that you can’t heal until you acknowledge your pain, your fear, and your shame. You can’t heal until you stop hiding your negative feelings and stop pretending to be happy when you are not. You have to be authentic to be happy. You have to take off your mask and be real. You have to come out of the closet.
     Pain is a wake-up call. Therefore, feeling and acknowledging your pain is the first step in the healing process. Anything that prevents you from feeling your pain and discovering its source is an act of denial. It is an attempt to ignore the call of your heart and soul to awaken and heal.
     All addictions/compulsions are a form of denial. They anesthetize your pain or help you escape from it. As long as you are an addict, you won’t feel the depth of your pain, and you will have little incentive to heal it.

Two Tips for Moving Through Your Pain

1. Stay out of your head. Stop analyzing, intellectualizing, or seeking to justify your feelings. That’s just a way of pushing the pain away. Just tune into how it feels.

2. Drop your mask. Break through your shell of isolation. Share your pain with others when it is safe to do so. When you have the courage to share your pain, you realize that you are not the only one who is suffering. This helps you to move through some of your shame and creates a community that supports your healing.

Projecting your Fear and Shame

You don’t want to look at the shadow, but you have no choice. Anything that is unhealed about you will be externalized, and you will see it in the words and actions of other people who trigger you.
     Your pain consists not only of your fear and shame, learned in childhood, but also of your ongoing judgments of others (projected shame) and anger at others (projected fear). That is why every judgment you have and every expression of anger must be forgiven. You can’t heal if you can’t forgive.
     When Jesus told us “judge not lest you be judged,” he was telling us an important truth. For every time we find fault with another person, we are making ourselves guilty. Each one of us is judge, jury and executioner.

Bringing Love to the Shadow

You cannot justify not accepting or loving others. There is no one here who does not deserve your love and acceptance.
     Some people may be difficult to love. They may challenge you. They may have qualities that reflect your own unconscious negative beliefs. But that just provides you with an opportunity to make your own shadow conscious. It enables you to bring love to a part of yourself you have never liked or accepted.

Awareness and Compassion

This work is not about trying to get rid of fear and shame — because what you resist persists and intensifies — but about bringing your fear and shame into your conscious awareness. When you bring light to the darkness, the darkness is illumined. When you become conscious of your fear and shame, their destructive power is diffused. When you learn to see and hold your fear and shame compassionately, you begin to embrace the angry little kid inside who does not feel loved.      Once you have awareness (light), you can bring compassion (love). That is what this work asks of you — to bring light and love, awareness and compassion — first to yourself and then to others.

The Core Self

The Core Self is the innocent part of you that lies behind your shadow. It cannot be seen unless you look with love and acceptance. Everyone has a Core Self, but few people are in touch with it. That is because they have not yet learned to look with love and acceptance.
     The Core Self is whole and complete. There is nothing lacking in it. There is nothing in it that needs to be changed or fixed. The Core Self contains all the gifts and talents you possess, in their potential. It is the blueprint you are born with.
     Connecting with the Core Self creates a pathway for the integration of the shadow and the restoration of wholeness in the psyche. When you are connected to your Core Self, you are connected to all that is. You live in relationship to your Source or higher power.

The Goal of all Spiritual Practice

Reestablishing the connection to our Core Self is the goal of all spiritual practice. It is also a necessity for real healing to take place. The wounded child cannot heal himself, because he feels unworthy and has no love to bring. Someone must connect to the Source of love within and become the bringer of love to the child.
     This someone is you. You are the bringer of love to your own experience. Unless you bring love to yourself, you cannot heal. You cannot experience peace in this life.

The Job of the Witness

When you look at your fears and buy into them you make them real. You become what you are afraid of. And that is a scary proposition.
     To keep your sanity, there must be a distance between you and what you see. Otherwise you many believe that what you see is what you are or what someone else is. The truth is that what you see is often seen through your own judgments and fears, so you do not see what is. You see a limited or distorted picture of reality.
     The job of the witness is to see without judgment, to see and release the blocks to love one by one, as they arise. So as judgments come up, he observes them compassionately. He knows that they are not true, and so he does not try to hold onto them or justify them. He does not make the one he judges wrong or bad. He does not make himself wrong or bad
for judging. He sees his judgments without identifying with them, and so he does not make them real.

Truth and Illusion

The Core Self is the light behind the shadow. When we look compassionately at the shadow, we realize it is all illusion. It is a construction of our shame and our fear. It is not ultimately real. What is ultimately real is what stands behind it.
     Until now, the light has been hidden behind the shadow. But when we meet the shadow without fear, we can see the light behind it. Beneath your guilt is your innocence. The latter is real. The former is not.

Opening the Prison Door

Each one of us will have an experience of the world that conforms to his beliefs about himself and others. This experience may be painful, but it still may be difficult to challenge. People think “this is just the way it is.” But in truth it is just the way “they perceive it to be.”  Whatever a person perceives seems “real enough” to him. He identifies with what he perceives, accepts it as truth, and lives his life according to that truth. But that truth might not lead him out of suffering. It might not help him to live a happy and fulfilled life. Indeed, it may be the primary cause of his suffering. Yet, until his pain is very great, he may not question what he believes to be true. He may not know that he has the power to liberate himself, just as he had the power to put himself in prison.

The False Self and the True Self

When you try to act without a connection to your Essence, all that you create is wound-driven. Every attempt to act without this connection is simply wrongdoing. It leads to wrong relationship, wrong livelihood and all other expressions of self-betrayal. These are the activities of the False Self.
     When you meet and align with your Essence everything you do is congruent with it. As a result, you spontaneously honor self and other. This leads to right action, right livelihood, right relationship. These are the activities of the True Self.