See Me Beautiful, Charting a Path to Inner Strength and Presence
This book was first published early in my career as Feeling Good About Feeling Bad. I considered just letting it go (as an early first work) but some of the tools in it are very powerful and I wanted to consider making it available. I still use many of the tools myself on a daily basis to keep myself strong and my full age. Do give it a read.
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Paperback, 135 pages
Many Kites Press (2011) / ISBN #978-0-9618469-6-1
Chapter One: A Blueprint for Life
For years people have referred to the unconscious mind as a kind of mysterious guru who will perform magic, if bidden, by using the right magic word. This idea of the unconscious mind was part of a mounting frustration I had with affirmations, positive mental attitude, positive visualization, and . . . well, you get my drift. It wasn’t working. I wasn’t getting what I needed to be happy. I felt like scrooge in The Christmas Carol. Positive mental attitude . . . bah humbug! I nearly growled every time somebody told me to “think positively.” Scott Peck began his book, The Road Less Traveled, with the words, “Life is difficult.” I agreed with him. I also agreed that thoughts are things, and that I needed to meditate, eat better, sleep more, make my bed, be a cheerful person, and pursue the American Dream. In short, I agreed with all of it—and none of it.
I felt like there were two of me—one on the inside who knew who she was and one on the outside doing things according to the rules. In the midst of my struggle, a friend gave me a medallion which I carried in my purse for years. I would take the coppery coin out and fiddle with it, reading the words printed on it over and over: “To Thine Own Self Be True.” I wondered what it meant and how in the world a person did it. Finally, I saw that I was living my life according to other people’s rules and somehow abandoning my own greatest desires. Instead of discovering the deeper side of my own nature, I was reaching for the quick fix. I’d sit before a lighted candle waiting for illumination with no earthly idea what it was I wanted to be illuminated about. I expected magic—and got little or nothing because I lacked a basic knowledge about the mind and how it works. By the early eighties I was at the lowest point in my life. My marriage was ending, a melancholy depression hung about my head like a cloud, and I was angry. This is it, all of it? Life was a battle and I was losing.
Now I see that my growth process was like a pregnancy—I just got heavier and heavier until I could no longer ignore it and had to do something to get relief. Relief came in the form of counseling, thirty days of treatment for co-dependency, and years of attending support groups and learning to reach out to others. That was what I now consider the first stage of my recovery—getting out of utter chaos and depression. When I look around the world, I see many people reach this point and then stop—as if just getting out of chaos is enough. I believe there is so much more to be done once we reach this basic level of comfort and relief from chaos. In fact, this is where the fun begins, where personal growth becomes a true expansion of the self. The tools presented in this book I used with myself first.
When I began using them with clients, I saw them also begin to change and grow again. As I grew, my tool kit also grew until I could no longer present it all in a morning lecture. This book is a result of that overflow of ideas—about getting more and more from life. Many of the tools are my own and others I’ve gleaned from keen minds and from the field of Neurolinguistic Programming. I try to give credit where credit is due. The tools presented here are for the person in what I call Level Two and Level Three Recovery. If you are still living in Level One chaos, you’ll not have the time, energy, or interest to go this far into your own psyche. Better to use your precious energy to get out of the chaos—quit drinking, get out of the abusive relationship and find a safe place. And then pick up this book and begin to explore its contents.
Chapter Two: The Five Levels of Development
When we study psychology, we learn that children must go through certain phases of development in order to reach a healthy adulthood. As parents, we expect our little ones to have trouble regulating behavior and curiosity and to go through such things as the “terrible twos.” Unfortunately, little attention has been given to the stages we grown children must go through to find our maturity. Life is an evolutionary process that occurs in stages very similar to the child’s process. Here I use the word “Level” rather than stages to refer more to the internal process rather than the chronological stages of development. Below is a summary of the levels of development described by Dabrowski in his Theory of Positive Disin-tegration. I first encountered this theory in a paper presented to the American Psychological Association in 1981 entitled, Inner Conflict As A Path To Higher Development In Women by Linda Silverman and Elizabeth Schuppin. My friend, Deb, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, got this paper at a treatment center and gave me a copy. At that time, I was restless with recovery and was wondering about life after the twelve steps. The program seemed to work fine—as long as you were suffering, but when I wanted to reach for some new horizon, I felt lost and alone. As I read this paper, I had an explosive realization about where I was trying to get to. Only later, as I was tracking down the source of this paper, did I discover Dabrowski’s theory. I present the levels here in my own shorthand because they form the foundation of this book. To make the levels a bit clearer, I describe them first as an aspect of normal childhood development followed by how the same behaviors appear in a developing adult.