Copyright ©1999 All Rights Reserved.
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By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
Click here for Part 1 of Spiritual
Birth is not one act; it is a process.
The aim of life is to be fully born,
though its tragedy is that most of
us die before we are thus born.
To live is to be born every minute.
Death occurs when birth stops.
When once asked how he was able to create his artistic wonders from mere pieces of marble,
Michelangelo is said to have replied, I didnt do anything. God put them in the
marble, they were already there. I had only to carve away the parts that kept you from
life, too, is an artistic wonder in the making, awaiting only the courageous,
compassionate application of a sculptors tools. For your life is an unfolding
miracle, needing only to be emancipated from the dis-ease
that envelops your spiritual center, Essence.
is the dis-ease that encases Essence? I call it spiritual bankruptcy. To some, the phrase,
spiritual bankruptcy, has a provocative, almost taunting tone to it. Some hear it as an
accusation, raising their ire, leaving them defensive, and feeling judged. Others think of
spiritual bankruptcy as a condemnation-- that they are lacking the essential moral
fiber to be a good person. Still, for others, what they hear me saying is that their
spiritual practice is somehow inferior to mine or the next persons. Then there are
those who suggest that Im being a tad dramatic, that its a bit of an overkill,
this idea of spiritual bankruptcy. Oh sure, they may be feeling lost, a bit disoriented
these days, but bankrupt, that describes a
neredewell, the woulda, coulda, shouldas of this world, the down-and-outers. In
other words, anyone but me.
first, let me put you at ease. There will be no fire and brimstone rants here, no hand
waving, bible thumping sermon about right and wrong, good or bad, moral or immoral.
Its not my intention to provide you with a police artists sketch of
whats a sin and whos a sinner. There will be no predictions offered, no gazing
into crystal balls suggested, no palms or tarot cards read. I have no insiders
knowledge as to whether youre headed north or south of the border in the afterlife.
not where Im coming from. I leave the ideology
of religion to those who are more well versed in
it than I. Let those who are so inclined, judge you, but, thats not what youll
receive from me. As for preaching and prophesizing, both are the exclusive domain of those
who work the other side of the street.
what takes place on my side of the street? Healing your emotional and spiritual
wounds--the pertri dish in which the seeds of spiritual bankruptcy are sown, cultivated,
and harvested. What are these emotional and spiritual wounds? Here are but three. First,
your sense of worth and well-being sliced-and-diced by a razor-edged self-critic,
sharpened and tempered by the shame, alienation, and self-loathing that permeates every
nook and cranny of the relationship you have with yourself. Second, mind-numbing
loneliness, unfulfilled emotional needs, and smoldering resentments, all the by-product of
those relationships that have been stripped bare of joy and love from years and years of
fear, neglect, false pride, judgmentalness, and festering, unresolved conflict. Finally,
the estrangement from your spiritual center, the disconnect from your spiritual voice, the
loss of faith and hope, the overreliance on your will,
the complete abandonment of your relationship with your higher power, all of which leaves
you feeling empty and incomplete, lacking energy and vitality, drifting through life
without purpose and meaning.
No, my side of the street is healing not preaching, searching not judging, examining not
explaining. Working my side of the street means one thing and one thing only--illuminating a sacred path that will [re]connect you
with both your authentic Self and spiritual center, Essence, and thus, returning
both to the center of your identity.
You need not worry. This path wont conflict with your already held beliefs and
traditions. Theres only one point to this path--to face your life directly, your
hopes and fears, possibilities and limitations, your joys and sorrow, all through the art
of self-discovery. Its simply a practical
way to end the ever-present pain and despair that envelops your soul. The aim is simple
but profound--putting you in touch with the fullness of your being. The means to do so?
The same used by Michelangelo--carving away the parts that keep you from seeing,
connecting with, and experiencing the grandness of your being.
is it that has engulfed the core of your being? What fuels the war you wage with yourself?
What is the catalyst for the deepening isolation between you and the people in your life?
What drowns out the voice of Essence? Just what
is it that needs to be carved away so that you may experience your true, authentic self?
of it this way. Your authentic Self, your sense
of who you really are has become mummified by layer upon layer of shame, alienation,
grief, loneliness, anger, fear, and endless patterns of self-defeating conditioned
reactions. What is embedded in each layer in which your authentic Self is wrapped? Hopelessness and self-loathing
which has choked off the vitality of your life force. Self-contempt which has polluted
your perception of yourself and the people in your life. Worthlessness which has twisted
and distorted your claims to what youre entitled to as a child of the Divine.
in each layer is the anger and hostility that shields the tenderest parts of who you are
from the prying eyes of even those who would want but to love you. There are the broken
promises to yourself, the unkept words to the people in your life that has revealed your
loss of faith and exposed your disconnect from the Divine.
its not just how you feel about yourself nor how you dance with the people in your
life, its also the built-up residue from all the self-defeating unconscious conscious choices that you make. Think
about all the times that youve abdicated your free will to the willfulness of Ego. Can you see how youre enslaved to a
script that you blindly follow? Do you recognize that in renouncing your responsibility to
choose, youve surrendered the opportunity to empower your life? Every time
youve reacted rather than responded to the circumstances of your life, youve
allowed fear to control your life. Each time youve made a
choice that causes you to contract rather than expand has prevented you from becoming the
grandest version of who you can be.
what is the sum and substance of each layer of scar tissue that imprisons authentic Self? If you look closely enough, if you stop
distracting yourself from your pain for any length of time, if you stop living in your
world of make believe, youll discover a patchwork of emotions and choices that
debases your sense of self, poisons your relationships with others, and separates you from
your spiritual center, Essence.
as if your core has been enshrouded in a tapestry of pain, self-deception, emptiness and
hopelessness. Woven in and out of this tapestry are strands of self-judgment and
self-sabotaging choices. The pattern embedded in this tapestry is undeniable--a sense of
feeling fundamentally bad, inadequate, defective, dirty, and unworthy. Theres an
internal voice of diminishment--damning yourself as less than, experiencing other
peoples attitude towards you in a similar fashion.
in with an overwhelming sense of worthlessness, beyond feeling small and insignificant in
the eyes of yourself and others, is an always present feeling of anger and hostility. You
experience intense anger at yourself for not being who you believe you should be. You fend
off any persons attempt to know you, or, even worse, see you, with hostility and defensiveness. No
matter how many people you may surround yourself with, this nagging feeling of being on
the outside looking in never escapes you.
contempt and disdain for yourself and others compels you to cover up, close off, shut down
and self-medicate. Which is your method of self-medication--secrecy, compartmentalizing
your life, compulsive behaviors, chaotic relationships, addiction, eating, gambling,
sexing, arrogance, self-centeredness, selflessness? Whats the shell in which you
hide to silence the self-hate, avoid the exposure of anothers gaze, and tell
yourself that its alright and, even more confounding, that youre alright? What
reasonable fact simile of who you really are do you morph into in order that you not
reveal who you really are to the world? What artists rendering of the original
masterpiece that you are do you hide out in? What cheap knock-off of your authentic self
do you invent and present as yourself to the rest of the world? All of this, every single
fabrication, in the name of not being found out, not being exposed, not having to confront
all that it means to be human!
is the DNA of the material that has concealed your authentic Self, engulfed your relationships, and blanketed Essence. Its this material that must be
carved away so as to [re]discover the grandness of who you really are.
you see that the only way out of where youre at is to extract your mind, body, and
soul from the most elemental aspects of spiritual bankruptcy? Do you see that spiritual
bankruptcy is an underlying dis-ease process
embedded in such symptoms as depression, anxiety, shame, self-alienation, resentment,
hopelessness, despair, self-sabotage, relationship dysfunctions, addictions, and eating
disorders? Every aspect of who you are is affected by this dis-ease. It affects how you think, how you feel,
how you perceive the circumstances of your life, how connected you are to your physical
being, the quality of the relationship you have with yourself and others, and your ability
to live your life connected to your spiritual center.
does spiritual bankruptcy show up in your life? What are the incarnations that spiritual
bankruptcy takes on in your day-to-day life? How and what aspects of your life does
spiritual bankruptcy infest? Spiritual bankruptcy manifests itself in your life as disconnection. There are four aspects of your life
in which the drama of disconnection unfolds--the relationship you have with yourself, the
relationship you have with the people in your life, the relationship you have with your
spiritual center, and the relationship you have with the here-and-now.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With Yourself:
The Disconnect Between Mind and Emotions
first look at the relationship you have with yourself. In this context, there are two
levels of disconnection. First, theres a disconnect between your mind and your
emotions. As a result of this disconnect, either your emotions or your thinking dominates,
one to the diminishment of the other, how you experience life. This happens in one of two
type of disconnect takes place when your emotions dominate your perceptions and reactions
to the circumstances of your life. When you feel flooded by your emotions, when your
emotions dominate how you experience a life circumstance, you feel overwhelmed, and, thus,
you become vulnerable to applying meaning to a life circumstance based solely on what
emotions have been activated by that life circumstance. As a result, you disconnect from
your conscious awareness of the here-and-now, only experiencing a particular moment
through your feelings.
other half of the mind-emotion disconnect is when your conscious thoughts dominate your
experience of a situation. When this type of disconnect occurs, you experience a life
circumstance solely through your conscious awareness. When this happens, you unplug from
your emotions, thereby experiencing a particular moment only with your thoughts. When this
occurs, you experience life in a similar fashion as watching television on a black and
white television. Either way, with either style of disconnect, without a healthy balance
of connection to both your conscious awareness of the moment and your emotional responses
to the moment, youll experience life either as emotionally charged and overwhelming
or sterile and barren.
are two consequences for either imbalance that Ive just mentioned. You lack clarity
about your sense of self and you are removed from directly experiencing life in the
moment. Why? Rather than remaining grounded in the here-and-now, you either regress back
to the emotionally charged reactivation of past experiences or escape into mind numbing
preoccupation with the future. As a result, if youre engaged in your life
exclusively with your thoughts, you become a distant observer of your life, rather than an
active participant. On the other hand, being connected exclusively to your emotions, you
become a prisoner of your past, the creator of a chaotic present.
may still be wondering, Whats so bad about that, it beats having to actually
be present in my life. When you rely exclusively on either your overcharged
emotional reactions or your sterilized, emotionally muted interpretations of your life
experiences, youre vulnerable to distorted perceptions of yourself and your life
experiences. Youre vulnerable to these distortions because your awareness and
feelings, when used in tandem, serve as a check and balance for the meaning you attribute
to the experiences of your life. Without the benefit of that check and balance, your
understanding of your life experiences is created through the distorted filters of
inflamed awarenesses or emotionally sterilized rationalizations. Because of this,
youre unable to develop a grounded, reality-based
connection with the moment. This disconnect from the moment is the genesis of much of the
alienation that you feel towards yourself and the people in your life.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With Yourself:
Disowning Qualities and
Characteristics of Who You Are
a second level of disconnection that takes place within the context of the relationship
that you have with yourself. I refer to it as disowning
qualities and characteristics of who you are. This means that theres much about
who you are that youve unplugged from, disowned, and pushed to the outer edges of
your conscious awareness.
are these parts of yourself that youve discarded and declared for ever more,
Not me!? Personal qualities and characteristics that youve developed
judgments about, parts of who you are that you feel shame towards, parts of yourself that
you want no association with. Likewise, they are qualities and characteristics of yourself
that have been raged at, disapproved of, or ridiculed by others.
result of the intolerance of yourself and others towards these qualities and
characteristics, you make a pledge. You vow never to be weak, because when youre
weak people take advantage of you. Or you swear that youll never be dependent on
somebody else, because the last time you were, that person walked out on you. Its
likely that you pledged a long time ago to never feel scared or hurt or fragile, because
you were belittled or maybe even punished for experiencing and expressing such feelings. I
bet you can recite backwards and forwards all the rules you have about who to be and not
be when it comes to winning the love of another person.
of all of those qualities, the ones youve turned off, surrendered, and discarded.
Can you identify those characteristics, that youve disowned, left unexpressed, never
revealed? Do you see the limitations you place on who you allow yourself to be? Are you
aware of the restrictions you allow others to place on who you can be. This occurs because
of your level of discomfort with certain aspects of who you are. Lets also give
credit to the other guys inability to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly about
who you are. The end result it that you split off, tuck away, never to be claimed again,
important parts of who you are.
does this fragmenting process unfold? Here are but a few examples. You deny that you feel
lonely because a strong person doesnt need anybody. And then you get
angry at loneliness and neediness when you see it in another person. Or you erase from
your memory bank the parts of you that feels tender towards another person because
expressing those feelings is a set-up to be forever at the mercy of another persons
demands for more and more attention. And then you get angry when that person acts in a
tender way towards you. Or you out and out deny that your behavior is controlling, or that
youre being manipulative, or that youre feeling feelings that youve
forbidden yourself from feeling. And then you get angry and judgmental when you experience
those very attributes in somebody else.
the ways we protect ourselves, more times than not, backfire on us. Disconnecting from
parts of who you are is no exception. Theres a tremendous cost incurred when you
discard that which youve disowned about yourself. For you expend an enormous amount
of energy keeping those parts out of your awareness.
order to insure that these qualities and characteristics remain disowned, the focus of
your life becomes not being all that youve
disowned rather than being all of who you are.
The energy you expend in order not to be, drains
you, creating a fertile breeding ground for self-loathing, hopelessness and despair.
Beyond debilitating your emotional well-being, the process of keeping the disowned out of
sight is responsible for much of the chaos in your life. This happens because it creates
an ongoing internal conflict between not being and
being. This conflict manifests itself as the self-sabotaging and self-destructive
behaviors you become entrapped in.
you set into motion, a style of life thats dedicated to keeping yourself invisible.
The less of yourself there is to see, the less of a target you make yourself for others to
judge and attack. However, in chopping your Self
up into compartmentalized bits and pieces, you deny yourself and the world access to so
many wonderful qualities of who you are. And in so doing, you deny yourself access to so
many of the wonderful qualities that exist in other people.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With the People in Your Life
Whitman wrote, Sometimes touching another person is more than I can bear.
Whitman captures the essence of the second level of disconnection that adds to the
bubbling cauldron of dis-ease, alienation, and
spiritual bankruptcy. For the second disconnect that takes place is between you and the
human race. It occurs in one of two ways. One
way is to close yourself off completely, not allowing anybody into your life. A second way
is to completely shut out of your life the people in your life. Either way, you exist
alone, an island in the sea of humanity. You create a life in which youre uninvolved
emotionally, detached spiritually. Apathy, indifference, and resentment coat your
interactions with the people in your life. Youre indifferent to the wants and needs
of others. Youre disinterested in their pain and suffering. You derive no pleasure
from anothers joy. You resent the demands on your time and emotional reserves, so
you create a life that is separate from rather than a part of.
much sense as that may make to you, can you see why disconnecting from the relationships
in your life is so toxic for you? By detaching from the people in your life, by erecting
impenetrable barriers between you and the rest of the world, by constructing a fortress of
passivity, anger, defensiveness, and hostility, you have renounced the one common link you
share with all of humanity--your humanness.
see, for many, there can be no more hair raising, blood curdling, fingernails on the
chalkboard experience than connecting with their humanness. Thats ultimately what
youre seeking shelter from. Not being a part
of spares you the pain of connecting with your own humanness. Being separate from offers you release from the burden of
your humanness. Uninvolvement alleviates the burden of not experiencing at the depth of
your soul the indignity of being ordinarily human and all that being human entails.
why you seek the protection of withdrawing, rather than endure the comfort of belonging. You see,
detachment is a judgment against, a denial of, and ultimately a defense from your humanness. Ultimately, youre wanting to avoid
being associated with the judgments you hold about what it means to be human. What are
those judgments? Do the words weak, delicate, pathetic,
feeble, puny, inadequate, and defective have
a ring of familiarity? How willing would anybody be to embrace their humanness if they
were to judge it in the same vain as the above descriptors. Let me be clear, Im not
asserting that its my belief that claiming your humanness means youre weak,
delicate, pathetic, feeble, puny, inadequate, and defective. What I am asserting is that
there are many people who do hold these judgments about being human. And because of those
judgments, they defend themselves against
experiencing their humanness by disconnecting
from the people in their lives.
not wanting to be associated with your judgments of being human, disconnecting separates
you from the pain and suffering associated with experiencing your humanness. Look at what
disconnecting from the human race spares you. Involvement undermines your sense of
power and control. Detachment keeps you in charge of the ship. Engagement places your
well-being in the hands of others. Aloofness perpetuates the myth that no harm can come to
you as long as you rely solely on you. Participating leaves you vulnerable to
abandonment. Disconnecting enables you to love and be loved, on your terms and your terms only. Cooperatively
living insures that you will feed others emotionally and spiritually. Competitively living
ensures that youll get yours first, last, and foremost. Involvement empowers you to
give of yourself to others. Passivity enables you to take and take as the world dances at
make no mistake about it. Theres much for you to gain by keeping the world at
arms length. In your mind, its the only way that makes any sense. For keeping
yourself on the outside looking in insures your safety, guarantees that youll never
be denied, and keeps you in charge of all that crosses your path. The only thing is it
also insures that youll go through life hungering for the warmth of a loving
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With the People
in Your Life:
Experiencing Your Emotional Needs
is it that youre protecting yourself from? What is it that you are so bound and
determined not to experience? What relief comes from not experiencing your humanness, so
much so, that you are willing to ruin your life rather than cop to the fundamental
qualities about who you are? Lets start with emotional neediness. You have specific emotional needs that
can only be fulfilled by living cooperatively amongst the people in your life. The most
fundamental need each and every human has is to belong.
Seeing as that is a given, you have only two ways to respond to that drive. Either fitting
in and making a place for yourself, or defending yourself against the need to belong by denying the need.
make no mistake about it, belonging is the prime
motivation behind every action that you take. No matter how much you tell yourself that
you dont need anybody, no matter how hard you work at shutting the world out, no
matter how guarded, abrasive, and defensive you may be, underneath it all ticks the soul
of a person who is desperate to belong, to be
cared about, to feel appreciated.
never been fooled by all the creative ways that people deny how badly they hurt, how
desperately they long for, how very much they need. None of it impresses me--the protests
to the contrary, the swearing on your mothers grave, the apoplectic fits, all in the
name of demonstrating how insulated you are from this very basic need, how self-reliant
you are, how repulsed you are by the thought that you might need at least one other human
the problems that you create for the sake of denying your neediness, forget about it. All the sabotaging that
takes place to undo even the slightest of connections, its really a no brainer. All
of the approach and avoidance, all of it, every iota of denying that you have emotional
needs is a ruse, a distraction, a diversion. All of it has more to do with protecting
yourself and less about convincing me or anyone else.
the problem is needing, the problem is being
seen as a person who needs. And the answer is
obvious, dont need, dont want, dont desire. Dont put yourself at
risk, dont give in to the most fundamental drive you have, belonging. Your credo, Deny, deny,
deny. And, in so doing, live to see another day.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With the People in Your Life:
Defending Against Feeling Vulnerable
second aspect of humanness that you defend against is experiencing vulnerability. Living in this world can oftentimes
be a scary, overwhelming proposition. However, we are by nature frail, vulnerable beings.
None of us are invulnerable to the slings and arrows that life throws our way. And because
of this, we do much better when we have people in our lives that can support us.
being emotionally involved with the people in your life is a double edged sword. For the
very people who can be the heart and soul of your existence, can also be the catalyst for
the reenactment of your worst nightmares. For living life emotionally connected to the
people in your life is also an invitation to get hurt. It can get ugly fast and
thats not what most of us prefer. But the unavoidable truth is that we cut, we hurt,
we bleed. So the moment you let your guard down, the instant you come in from out of the
cold, the nanosecond you join in rather than look down on, youve instantly exposed
yourself to the prospect of being vulnerable.
is an open invitation to experience the pain of rejection, the sting of judgment, the
horror of abandonment, the unfairness of being falsely accused. So, as much as you may
benefit from establishing emotional bonds with the people in your life, you may turn
solely to yourself for comfort and fortification.
the way you fortify yourself is by not creating connections of substance. In order to
defend against feeling vulnerable, in order to protect yourself from experiencing how
frail you and your life really are, in order to insure that you never put yourself at a
level of risk that is intolerable, you live your life in a bunker, and believe me,
its a one man fox hole. And when someone tries to get in, your siege mentality takes
over and the battle cries are shouted to the heavens.
the Alamo! Remember all the times, all the ways you were hurt. Remember how bad it
felt to be let down. Remember how bad it felt to be betrayed. Remember all the ways that
being involved worked against you. Remember how it felt, the confusion, the bitterness,
the shame and embarrassment. Remember all the times you were left to nurse your hurts,
tend to your wounds, comfort your sorrow, all by yourself. Remember the unfulfilled
longing for a sympathetic touch, a kind word, the unmet desire for somebody, anybody to
make it better.
so your mantra becomes, Dont trust! To you that makes all the sense in
the world. You understand only too well. You know better than that person on the other
side of the door whos trying to get in knows. It sucks to be hurt. It sucks to be
played, to be made a fool. It sucks to entrust your well-being, in part or in whole, to
another person, only to have that trust abused, taken advantage of, manipulated, and
ultimately used against you.
so you vow, Never again! Never again will I depend on another person. Never
again will I feel so vulnerable, so out of control. Never again will I let somebody in,
only so that they can turn around and walk out of my life. And, in so doing, youre
assured that nobody will hurt you, but, at the same time, youre also assured that
nobody will be there for you.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect With the People in Your Life:
Defending Against Feeling Powerless
discomforting and unsettling as experiencing your neediness
and vulnerability can be, both pale in
comparison to the most disturbing aspect of your humanness--powerlessness. Nothing evokes more discomfort,
nothing elicits more panic, nothing stimulates your need to deny, seal over, and flee from
your state of humanness, more so, than feeling helpless and powerless.
order to unplug from this aspect of your humanity, you invent a myth. That myth is that
youre in control, that no circumstance exists that your will cannot overcome. Youre intoxicated by
the myth. As a result, you live your life as a warrior, mowing down each and every
obstacle that gets in your way. As a consequence of your intolerance for the experience of
feeling powerless, your mindset has evolved into a them versus me mentality. Every
situation is a test, every being is viewed as a threat, every waking moment is spent
shadow boxing with real and imagined slights.
so doing, you miss the real point. The enemy is within. The enemy is not the object of your will, the object being the obstacle in your path.
The real enemy is an inescapable aspect of being human--your limitations. Thats the enemy. Thats the
villain. Thats what your will is actually
seeking to destroy. The notion that you have limits is a repugnant thought to contemplate,
let alone embrace. The idea that theres a power(s) greater than you is too humbling
to even comprehend. To even consider that theres such an entity for which your will is no match, can send any grown man to his
knees with fright.
so the answer is a simple one. Engage the enemy. Fight the enemy. Destroy the enemy. And
when the enemy appears to be getting the best of you, simply dig in and keep the war
going, for you comfort yourself with the thought that tomorrow is always another day.
However, the dis-ease of spiritual bankruptcy is
proof positive that your will is no match for
what ravages your soul. And, in so denying this genesis of your dis-ease, you insure the fact that the war of wills will live on. And fighting the war armed only
with your will, insures that youll have
much the same success and experience much the same chagrin as a fireman has who uses
gasoline to put out a raging fire.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect Between
You and Your Spiritual Center
dis-ease of the soul, spiritual bankruptcy
leaves you disconnected from your spiritual center, Essence.
Because of your disconnect from Essence, the
energy of pride, which is created by Ego, dominates your life. As a result of this
disconnect from Essence, the energy of reverence, which is created by Essence, is
unavailable to you (see Mirror Mirror on the
Wall for a more detailed explanation of Ego
and Essence). As a consequence of being
disconnected from your spiritual center, youve become estranged from your
relationship with your higher power, the Divine.
As a result of being estranged from the Divine,
self-will and self-control rather than faith and surrender dominate how you make yourself
safe, how you attempt to get your emotional needs met, how you regulate your emotional
well-being, and how you empower yourself to overcome the challenges in your life.
self-will dominates your strategies for creating well-being in your life, your energy
becomes consumed more and more by the demands of Ego.
As this happens, your life becomes more focused on securing your attachment to
objects, substances, people, and desired outcomes and less on cultivating a relationship
with the Divine as well as love and compassion
for yourself and the people in your life. You attempt to make your world secure by
forsaking an empowering relationship with the Divine
for the mythical, self-delusional powers of self-will and control. Consequently, you
invoke your self-will rather than surrender to the Divine.
Rather than gaining mastery over yourself and the circumstances of your life by connecting
with your spiritual center, Essence, you rely
upon control and self-will to accumulate power and control over yourself, the people in
your life, and the circumstances of your life.
problem is that this unfolding drama of power and control creates a profound paradox. For
the more you invoke your self-will to achieve power and control over every aspect of your
life, the more those aspects of your life control you. The more you forsake surrendering
to the Divine as the legitimate means to
regain control over the habits, substances, and acting out behaviors that have gained
control over you, the less control you actually have over those substances and habits. The
more you attempt to control the people in your life, the more power and control those
people eventually have over you.
see relying on the strength and fury of your self-will is a losing battle. Its much
like the ancient Chinese bamboo tube that you insert your index finger in. Once your
finger is inserted in the bamboo tube it becomes impossible to remove your finger from the
tube. For the harder you try to pull your finger out of the tube, the tighter the grip the
tube exerts on your finger.
A Dis-ease of Disconnection:
The Disconnect Between You
and The Here-and-Now
aspect of your life impacted by the dis-ease of spiritual bankruptcy is being disconnected from
the present moment. There are two time zones in which you experience life when youre
disconnected from the present moment--the past and the future.
first look at living in the past and the major cause of this disconnect. Here-and-now
experiences oftentimes stimulate memories of past toxic experiences. When this
reactivation of past experiences occurs, you oftentimes become flooded by the memories of
the past and the associated feelings that accompany those memories. When this occurs, the
there-and-then becomes superimposed on the here-and-now, distorting the meaning you
attribute to the present moment experience as well as your connection to your here-and-now
sense of self. As you detach from the present moment, you relive the past as if it is
happening all over again in the present. As a consequence, when youre reliving your
past in the moment to moment experiences of your life today, you experience alienation
from your self, from the people in your life, and from your spiritual center. How so?
First, think about yourself in the present and yourself in the past as being two distinct selves. I refer to your here-and-now self as the voice of your developed adult
self. I refer to your there-and-then self as
the voice of your wounded self. For the most
part, you carry out your day-to-day functions from the voice of your developed adult self.
However, when you have an experience that activates the voice of your wounded self, the
voice of your wounded self takes over your emotional and experiential functioning.
As the voice of your wounded self takes over your emotional and experiential functioning,
your connection to the voice of your adult self is severed. The significance of your
wounded self usurping your connection to your adult self is that the toxicity of shame and
self-loathing from your reactivated emotional wounds dominates the attitudes and feelings
you hold about yourself.
only does your wounded self poison how you think about yourself, it distorts the meaning
you apply to how you understand what is happening in the moment, and who you are in the
moment. All of those old self-judgments begin to reemerge. Youre no
good. Youre inadequate. Youre unlovable.
Youre weak. Youre dirty. You deserved whatever
you got. I am a victim.
messages activate old feeling states. Depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness,
self-hate, and shame. These feeling states further disconnect you from your adult self.
Unable to plug back into your adult self, you stay more and more stuck in the past,
further estranged from the here-and-now. And the end result is you experience life much
the way you do watching an old movie over and over again. You become stuck in a time warp,
unable to escape the hold the past has on you as your reality becomes the reactivated past
rather than the present moment.
second time zone you experience your life in is the future. If shame and self-loathing are
what keep you stuck in the past, fear and agitation are what motivates you to unplug from
the present moment and flee to the future. What stimulates your flight into the future are
the demands of being present to each unfolding moment of your life. You see theres
nothing more demanding than being present to each and every moment of your life. Such
presence demands awareness, openness, connection to your emotional being, and the
willingness to take risks. For each moment demands that each and every one of us experience life and act on that experience. Now! Not in a moment. Not
when you feel more inspired. Not when you better understand how to but now. And in order
to act now, much of the time, youre required to act by stepping into the darkness of
so theres nothing better for what is provoking you about the present moment than tomorrow. Tomorrow is what alleviates the anxiety
of sustaining your connection to the here-and-now moment. Tomorrow is what soothes your
fear of stepping into the darkness of the unknown. Tomorrow is the garden in which all of
your good intentions are nurtured but never realized. Tomorrow is the place you flee to
when the present moment becomes emotionally overwhelming. Tomorrow is the refuge for all
that you could do today but put off until..., never quite getting to what it is that you
swear that you want in your life more than anything.
like living in the past, living in the future unplugs you from the voice of your adult
self. You never live in who you are today, for youre about to become something new
and improved tomorrow. The result is much the same as living in the past. Youre not
connected to the present moment, youre not connected to the voice of your adult
self. As a result, your life isnt reality based because, for you, reality isnt
who you are today but who and what youll be tomorrow.
as scary as the present moment can be, as emotionally provocative as it can be, being present in your life is important. Being
connected to the present moment awakens you to the fact that your life unfolds only in moments. In order to most fully appreciate
the preciousness of your life, in order to make choices that honor your life, attending to
each unfolding moment is of primary importance.
easy enough to see why that would be so. Your life is made up of a never-ending parade of
choices. But for many of us, the life choices we make do not honor ourselves, nurture our
relationships, feed our spirit. Why? Think about it for a moment. What most influences the
choices you make about your life, fear and self-doubt or courage and faith? What best
characterizes the foundation on which you build your relationships, acceptance, trust, and
love, or judgment, suspicion, and possessiveness? Do you approach each new moment of your
life as a victim or a warrior? How does your egocentric, self-will warp what often starts
out as your best intentions? You know the old saying about talking the talk? Which is it for you--do you talk the talk or walk the walk?
in order to be grounded, in order to be reality based, in order to take responsibility for
your emotional and spiritual well-being, its imperative that you remain connected to
the here-and-now. The catch is, as is so often is the case, doing what is best for you, is
not without its price. For being connected to each unfolding moment of your life can often
activate a state of being that you most want to avoid--being human in all of its
glory, with all of its pimples.
thats the mission youve layed out for yourself. Unplug. Disconnect. Remain
uninvolved. Abdicate your place in this world by denying your humanness. Deny your
humanness by defending yourself against those aspects of yourself that most closely binds
you to the rest of humanity. Stake out your claim to a piece of real estate just outside
the edges of the mainstream. Turn off your emotional needs. Master the art of never being
vulnerable. Invoke your will in the name of not feeling helpless and powerless.
it doesnt have to stay that way forever. You can climb out of the darkness and
experience the joy of [re]connecting with your Self,
the people in your life, and your spiritual being. The work is hard but rewarding,
challenging but uplifting, maddening but inspiring.
in the end its up to you. Either way you have a choice. On the one hand you can
choose how much longer youll allow the dis-ease
of spiritual bankruptcy to poison your life. On the other hand, you also can control
how much fear and discomfort youre willing to expose yourself to. But you know the
old saying, You live by the sword, you die by the sword.
Click here for Part 1
of Spiritual Bankruptcy
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.