"Recovery is not a dance of right and
wrong, of black and white - it is a dance of integration and balance.
The questions in Recovery are: Is it working for you? Is the
way you live your life working to meet your needs? Is the way you
are living your life bringing you some happiness?"
(All quotes in this color are
quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)
I write a great deal about the importance of being
open to looking at anything and everything from alternative perspectives
in my latest article Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists. Prior
to writing that article, I would have explained integration pretty much
as I do below in a quote from my web page Learning
to Love our self - Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery.
"(I need to make the point here that Codependence
and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What
we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels.
In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions:
the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about
being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical
is Spiritual, about our relationship to a Higher Power, to the Universal
Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that Loves us then
it makes it virtually impossible to be Loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual
Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our
relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary
element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual
Truth into our inner process.)"
When I talk about Spiritual Awakening, I am talking about my Spiritual
Belief system and what I believe to be Spiritual Truth. I talk about
my beliefs in my book and throughout this web site. They can be pretty
well summed up in the following two short quotes from my book.
"Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail,
we will be punished. We are not human creatures who are being punished
by an avenging god. We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place
out of which we have to earn our way by doing the "right" things.
We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.
We are here to learn. We are here to go through this process that
is life. We are here to feel these feelings."
"We are transcendent Spiritual Beings who are part
of the ONENESS that is the God-Force. We always have been and always will
be. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence. We are perfectly where we
are supposed to be on our Spiritual Path. And from a human perspective
we will never be able to do "human" perfectly - which is perfect.
We have been trying to do human perfect according
to a false belief system in order to get Spiritual. It does not work. It's
The core healing of the dis-ease / condition of codependence, in my
opinion, is stopping the shame and judgment internally - in our own inner
relationship with ourselves. We do not know how to be Loving to ourselves
because we were raised in societies that taught us it was shameful to be
human - shameful to make mistakes, to be emotional, to be sexual, to be
something other than "perfect." Feeling that there is something inherently
wrong with who we are as beings is the toxic shame that is the enemy within.
Society then teaches us to look to outside or external circumstances
/ sources to overcome this feeling of unworthiness. Those exterior
sources (money, property, prestige, etc.) can only distract us from toxic
shame, can only help us to build up a strong ego that hides the inferiority
complex beneath - they cannot help us to feel Truly serene and happy because
any outside source can be lost, any external circumstance can change.
Obviously, my beliefs about Spirituality address this toxic shame in
a very effective and efficient manner. If who we really are, is Spiritual
Beings having a human experience - then it becomes relatively easy to take
that toxic shame out of the equation, then our inherent worth is not tied
to material manifestations.
There is Spiritual and spiritual
My own personal Spiritual belief system is one form of spirituality.
It is certainly not the only one. Mine works for me very well in
helping me to have a relationship with life that allows me to be happier
today. It is not necessary for you to accept my belief system in
order for you to use the tools, techniques, and perspectives that I have
developed for emotional healing / codependence recovery / inner child integration.
For the purposes of this discussion of spiritual integration, I would
now define what I refer to as a Spiritual Awakening in the quote above,
as: being open to a larger perspective - awakening from being trapped
in a limiting perspective. In this regard, spiritual would be a qualifier,
an adjective, that describes the quality of one's relationship with life.
This adjective, spiritual, would be (in my definition) a word describing
an expanded level of consciousness. A level of consciousness, of
awareness, that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth
- as oposed to limited, exclusive, rigid, and inhibiting growth, development,
and alternative view points.
By this definition, any religion that claims to be the chosen one, that
excludes alternative perspectives or certain people, is not spiritual.
[And I want to add here that capitalizing my Spiritual belief system
and not capitalizing a general spiritual belief system, is not in any way
intended to indicate one is necessarily more important, valuable, or worthwhile
than the other. I capitalize certain words in my writing - Spiritual,
Love, Truth, Joy, etc. - as a tool that helps me to differentiate between
the vertical and horizontal dimensions that I refer to above. Love
capitalized, for instance, is to me the Transcendent emotional energy of
Love that one can tune into when in touch with one's connection to everything
- while the type of love on a horizontal level that we learned growing
up in dysfunctional societies, is more often than not associated with some
kind of possession and an excuse for addictive (with the other person as
our drug of choice) and/or dysfunctional behavior (shaming, abusive, controlling
behavior in the name of love.) It is certainly pleasurable to feel
joy in relationship to good things happening in one's life - while Joy
comes from within and can be tuned into in the moment (in relationship
to a beautiful sunset, a baby, taking time to smell the flowers, etc.)
no matter what is happening in one's horizontal experience.]
"One of the reasons for the human dilemma, for the
confusion that humans have felt about the meaning and purpose of life,
is that more than one level of reality comes into play in the experience
of being human. Trying to apply the Truth of one level to the experience
of another has caused humans to become very confused and twisted in our
perspective of the human experience. It is kind of like the difference
between playing the one-dimensional chess that we are familiar with, and
the three-dimensional chess played by the characters of Star Trek - they
are two completely different games.
That is the human dilemma - we have been playing
the game with the wrong set of rules. With rules that do not work. With
rules that are dysfunctional."
The objective, the function, of developing a spiritual
relationship with life is to explore ways of living that work better than
the ones which have resulted from the limiting belief systems that have
so impacted the course of human history. Unless your life is happy,
fulfilling, and working just as you want it to, then it is important to
look for alternate ways to do life. A different set of rules to play
by. It is important to become aware that it is possible to stop being
a victim of life not being what we want it to be, in order to start changing
our relationship with life into one that works better for us each individually.
"The first requirement in any healthy problem
solving situation is awareness that a problem exists. Until there
is awareness that a condition exists which is causing some adverse effect,
no positive, proactive action can be taken to change the situation for
the better. (I am referring to "healthy" problem solving and "positive,
proactive" action as opposed to unconscious, negative, reactive action
- such as blaming, scapegoating, focusing on symptoms instead of cause,
killing the messenger, etc.)"
"The healing process is full of paradox and irony
on multiple levels. One of those paradoxes is that in order to get
in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define
ourself as separate from others. And in order to become an integrated
whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts
of our self within. As long as we don't have clear boundaries between
our self and others - we cannot know where we end and someone else starts
- we cannot get clear on what is our stuff and what is theirs. As
long as we don't have clear boundaries within ourselves, we are set up
to be the victim of our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light
In order to stop reacting to life from a victim perspective and
start waking up to our own power to change the quality of our life it is
necessary to be open to larger definitions of the meaning and purpose of
life than the ones we were taught growing up. If we are reacting
to life based on the black and white perspective of a rigid belief system
- or in reaction to that black and white perspective - then we are not
open to expanding our perspective. Then we are stuck in being the
victim and we cannot see reality clearly.
It is important to start seeing the reality of the cause and effect
dynamic that governs life so that we can start changing the behavior patterns
that we adapted to cope with life. Until we are open to seeing the
cause and effect between our childhoods and our adult patterns, we will
continue to give power to the belief that there is something wrong with
us individually. That toxic shame feeling that tells us it is our
fault that life hasn't worked the way we thought it was going to, is the
main enemy here. It is very important to develop a relationship with
life that allows for the belief that it is not shameful to be human - and
that who we are is not bad or wrong.
"None of the details of any of these explanations
of the unexplainable should be taken too seriously or literally - it is
impossible to describe the indescribable. They are merely tools to
facilitate a paradigm shift in consciousness - to help us open up to larger
definitions of the Creation than those we were taught in childhood.
The goal here is to empower a more expansive context within which to view
the dance of life - one which allows for a perspective of human existence
that does not include shame and sin."
The Dance of the Wounded
Souls Trilogy Book 1 History of the Universe Part IV
The shame and sin is, of course, a facet
of the Western Civilization form of this dysfunctional condition.
The Eastern is somewhat different (I talk about some of those facets in
my article about Buddhism)
but is also out of balance and dysfunctional - and also gives the message
that being human is something less than a gift to be enjoyed.
I use the term dysfunctional here in the sense
that the individual being does not feel honored, respected, and connected
to the whole in a way that promotes happiness and fulfillment. It
is very helpful to have a spiritual belief system that allows for the possibility
that some kind of Cosmic order exists - that there is in fact, some meaning
and purpose for human life. A belief system that affords the individual
being dignity and respect and promotes the possibility that there is a
connection between the individual and the whole that makes some sense.
Codependence is, on one level, a defense system
wherein we take ego credit if things in our life go the way we want them
to - and if they do not, we blame somebody or something. Because
we were taught that doing life right would lead to happily-ever-after,
we think that something is wrong with us because we don't feel fulfilled
and happy. So, we blame others - or the system, or fate, or whatever
- to help ourselves try to overcome the deep seated feeling that there
is something wrong with us. Codependence is a defense system that
developed in reaction to a basic belief that being human was shameful or
negative in some way.
Integration of some type of spiritual belief system
that allows for the possibility that maybe we are not sinful and shameful
- that maybe life is not about sin and punishment, but rather is about
cause and effect - is a major step in changing our relationship with life.
It is important to understand the cause and effect in our own lives - to
start seeing how the patterns in our adult lives have been caused by our
childhood experiences. It is important to start looking at our lives
from the perspective of understanding cause and effect instead of assessing
When we start wearing a new pair of glasses that
allows us to see cause and effect instead of viewing life through a filter
of shame and blame, we move into a growth paradigm in our relationship
with life. We start to shift out of a victim place into a place of
being empowered as a co-creator in our life. Once we start looking
at the cause and effect dynamics in our life, then we can start striving
for some balance. One of the paradigm busting concepts that was introduced
to me in early recovery was a simple statement about cause and effect:
"If you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what
you have been getting."
We start recovery as soon as we realize that there
is something to recover from - and that we can take some action to change,
that we can be part of the solution instead of just being a victim of the
problem. Integrating a spiritual belief system that helps us take
the shame out of being human, enables us to start being able to see more
clearly that we have some responsibility - that our behavior and attitudes
have been causal - in how our lives have unfolded. We can then start
finding some balance in the middle ground between blaming others and blaming
ourselves. We can start taking responsibility for our part in what
has happened - our side of the street - and holding others responsible
for their part in things.
Once we start owning our responsibility, and understanding
the cause and effect, then we can began changing our experience of life.
Then we can start to find some balance in our relationships: with ourselves;
with life; with other people.
So, spiritual integration in this sense, is our relationship
with the whole of the horizontal dance of life. It is very helpful
to have a sense of spirituality, a relationship with the dance of life,
that helps us to start being able to find some balance in our life.
The reason to find some balance in our life is to take away the power from
the past and make it possible to make living more enjoyable today and in
the future. The whole point of healing and recovery is to help make
it possible for our lives to be more serene, fulfilling, and happy, today
- instead of living life out of the false belief systems we learned as
There is a saying that I really like, that religion
is for people who are scared of hell and spirituality is for people who
have been there. We have all lived in the hell that is the feeling
we are somehow shameful, unworthy, and unlovable, the hell that living
life according to a dysfunctional belief system can create. Recovery
is about changing our perspective with life into one that works to help
us be happy to be alive today for as many of the moments of the day as
that is possible. It is not possible to do that when we are feeling
victimized because we are giving outside or external circumstances / sources
- or dysfunctional beliefs - the power to dictate how we feel about ourselves.
(One form of hell is being old and rich, approaching death feeling empty
So, when I speak of spiritual integration - if
you do not resonate with my Spiritual belief system - then think of it
as your relationship with life. If you can be open to having a relationship
with life that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth,
if you can look at life in terms of cause and effect not to assess blame
but rather to change what you have been doing in order to change what you
have been getting, then you are practicing spiritual integration.
Owning your power to choose a perspective of life
that is expansive and inclusive will facilitate changing your relationship
with life. To see life as a growth process with lessons that are
worth learning, to see experiencing the journey as being more important
than the destination, is to have a perspective of life that greatly enhances
your chances of enjoying being alive today. This to me is spirituality
in it's simplest and most essential form.
maybe, just maybe
In addition to that, I would propose that you might
find it beneficial to start being open to the possibility that maybe,
there is a benevolent meaning and purpose
I am proposing that there is nothing wrong with who
we are - that the dysfunction comes in our relationship with ourselves
and with life that we learned in childhood, from people who learned it
in their childhood, from people who, etc., etc. I am asking you to
be open to considering a different perspective for the purpose of improving
the quality of your life on a day to day basis. This is what I mean
by having a spiritual relationship with life. With these possibilities
integrated into your relationship with yourself and life it makes it much
easier to start finding some emotional balance in the horizontal dance
of relationships that is life.
we are all connected to each other and to our
we have worth as individuals just because we
it is ok to enjoy life.
"We are all more connected than we are different.
As human beings, we share a basic emotional process that is the same for
all of us. . . . Every human being on the planet is someone who we could
feel connected to - feel on the same wave length with - in the right circumstances
in relationship to some shared feeling, interest, and/or experience.
We are all kindred spirits in terms of our humanity
- in terms of our relationship to the horizontal human experience.
We are all kindred spirits with more connection than differences without
even taking the vertical - the Spiritual relationship - into consideration."