Today is the first installment of who knows how many "how to" posts. I am going to try to take this one step at a time and still have breaks in between for those who just want the informative posts. So these posts will probably every other post or so.
Everything that I do is about one thing: Helping families heal and mend, whether they have special needs members or not. As I work with a variety of families, I learn new ways of healing and I learn to see different aspects of the process from different angles. What I write here is my view, my angle. It doesn't make it the angle. The principles are true principles though, and they are true for all of us, not just me or people on the spectrum or friends and family of people on the spectrum. They are principles based in eternal truths, unalterable truths, truths found the world over - no matter a person's race, religion, or gender. That is because truth is truth.
Which leads me to the first point. Each of us has had experiences in life that have taught us how to be and how to act. Sometimes those experiences are based in eternal truths. Sometimes those experiences are based in situational truths. Sometimes those experiences are based in complete falsehoods. No matter what they are based in, we form belief systems from those experiences. If the experience is a situational truth or a falsehood, then our core belief systems will be incorrect and we have a skewed view of every relationship and interaction. Yes, I do mean to use the word every. I know that is quite a claim, but it is truth.
I would like to give you some examples that might help to illustrate what I am trying to say.
As a child, I remember waiting for my diaper to be changed. I had lain down so mom could begin, only to remember that she had forgotten a washcloth (this was in the days of cloth diapers). She went to get the cloth, but did not come back for quite sometime. There was a fight amongst my older siblings. Mom went to take care of it. Then she forgot why the washcloth was in her hand and set it down as she realized what time it was and she needed to get dinner started. Much later the phone rang. While she was on it, she sat down on the couch in the living room and saw me, still on the floor, waiting patiently for my diaper to be changed.
I have one vivid memory of this happening. My mother told me that it would happen frequently, and said something about how nice it was that she didn't have to worry because I would just lay there and not move until she came back. From an adult perspective, yeah, that was great! Who wouldn't want a child to just lay on the floor, diaper open, and not have any mess to clean up no matter how long it took you to get around to things? That's really great!
But as a child, whether it was truth or not, I developed a belief system from that experience. Now, before I go any further, this is why I can qualify saying things like all and every. No matter what parents do, there are things that will happen in the lives of their children that will cause them to develop a false core belief. It has nothing to do with whether or not it is eternal truth. For that child, in that situation, it is truth...thus the term "situational truth."
Anyhow. The core belief I developed from that experience told me that I was the least important person in my mother's life, that I mattered less to her than anyone else on this planet. From that developed the belief that if I mattered that little to my own mother, then there could not possibly be anyone else on this planet who would ever just love me for me. It began a lifelong push to do for others constantly - first, because I didn't feel like I was worth anything unless I was contributing a lot, second, because I felt like my contribution (when I was able to help someone or give to someone) determined my value or worth.
I began to determine my worth by how many people I could help and give to. It took me until about 3 or 4 years ago to realize that this core belief was there and that it was a false belief. Of course I mattered to my mother, but only my head believed that, not my heart. That is when the "why game" I spoke of in an earlier post came into existence. I had to know why I was feeling the way I felt. Why did I feel so very worthless to everyone around me? Looking at my relationships from the outside, people were interacting with me and seemed to want to be my friends, my family looked like they loved me. But my core belief said that I was worthless and in order to preserve the illusion, everything (and yes, I mean everything) was interpreted in some way that could reinforce that core belief.
Once we have decided something is truth, we generally fight tooth and nail to preserve that "truth" - no matter how false it may be. I have found that the more false a belief is, the harder I fight any view that does not align with it.
So here I was, my mother dead so I could not ask her how she felt about me, and feeling rather hopeless about the whole mess. (This was before I figured out the Why Game.) As things progressed in my life, I realized there had to be something done. A good friend of mine was instrumental in my refining the process that will allow changes to occur. I had already had quite a bit of the process figured out, but there were a couple of pieces missing that were helpful.
One day I just began exploring the emotions. I didn't know what else to do. There was no one there to walk me through this process and I couldn't just sit there and feel this way. Looking at the emotions, after a time, I became curious and fascinated with them. I learned that asking "why do I feel...." really helped me understand it a little more. But I had a problem. I was using my head to speak for my heart. That doesn't work.
This is where my friend came in and was very useful. Usually I would catch myself when "going into my head", but sometimes I wouldn't. It was really nice to have her there and say things like, "You're thinking too much. Get out of your head." Or something to that affect.
A few hours in I hit the core belief...as stated above. To my core I believed I was worth less than every other person on this earth. That realization stung, deeply. Then my friend asked me if that was the truth. Was I really worthless?
"How do you know?"
"Because I just do. My heart tells me that is not the truth."
"Then what is the truth?"
I then began to say what my heart felt was the truth. It was rather weak and through tears. She asked me to repeat it. And again. And again. About 7 times I spoke the truth. Each time it came out in different words, maybe a few were similar, and each time it became a stronger and stronger conviction within me.
It was replacing the lie with the truth that was crucial. Without that, I would have just felt even more helpless knowing why I felt something, but having no way to understand it.
Now. What I have said up to now is truth, but it is not the complete or all of the truth. You may stop here if you wish, but there is a little truth that I wish to share. However, it may be something that many of you disagree with. I do not wish to offend, but for those who have an open mind, I would like to tell you all I know about this, and not just the portions that are safe to tell because they are portions that everyone can agree with, no matter their views. I realize we are all of different cultures, backgrounds, belief and religious systems, etc. If you disagree with me, please do so peacefully and remember that this blog is intended to bring healing and hope and love into your life.
While listening to a lecture from Pardes at Jerusalem, I learned that in ancient Judaism there was a tradition known as "Giving a Crust." They would pull the bread out and cut off the thinnest slice of the crust they could manage. This crust was thrown down to the ground and became the food for the pests and bugs. It kept them on the ground and the rest of the loaf was safe. If the crust was not thrown down, then the rodents and insects would come up to the bread and eat from all over it and the entire loaf would be ruined. As long as the crust was thrown down, the loaf was whole and safe to eat.
Symbolically, if we learn to apply this principle to our lives, we learn to be a whole person. Each of us is a loaf of bread. Each of us has two sides, the natural man and the spirit, or the ego and the true self, or the eternal and the mortal....whatever you relate to. I will refer to them as the natural man and the spirit because those are the terms I am most accustomed to using.
If the loaf of bread represents each of us, then the natural man is the crust and the remainder of the loaf is our spirit - or our true self. The natural man must first be cut away from the loaf in order to be thrown down. But how do you know how deeply to cut unless you can define the line between the ending of the natural man and the beginning of the spirit? This is where questioning everything you do and think and feel comes into play.
You react to someone. As soon as you think of it, pause and ask yourself why you did what you did. Don't settle for the first answer off the top of your head....the top of your head is the natural man 100%. It's not always a bad voice to listen to, but when you are trying to discover your true identity, it is the worst voice to hear. Keep going, asking questions of yourself until there is a shift from blaming others to seeing your own responsibility in the situation; or seeing where you viewed things askew from the reality of the truth.
Once your spirit has a voice, however faint it may be, continue to ask questions until you find the core, similar to the above mentioned. But here we bring in a power beyond our own. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is what allows this shift possible. Whether or not you recognize His power or even His existence, does not change where the power source is. There is something that allows the energy exchange to take place. A power that is in existence outside of time and space. It is a power that can transcend all walls, barriers, and blocks - but He will not step in unless you invite Him to. He will not force His way into any heart, any life. If you open the door upon which He knocks (your heart) then He will enter in and He will heal you.
Back to giving a crust. By clearly defining the difference between your natural man and your spirit, you learn what each voice sounds like. This allows you to recognize when other things are coming in from somewhere else. The voice of Satan, the Holy Spirit, the voice of the Savior, the voice of the Father. It also allows you to be more keenly aware of other voices, those you are closely connected to emotionally. This is where understanding your children/spouse/friend comes in. We all have the ability to do what I do. Every person, if they will open their hearts and begin to feel and sort out the difference between the influences around them, can do exactly what I do.
As you learn to separate the crust from the loaf, or the natural man from your spirit, you will learn so much. You will be able to see clearly. Your life and the way you saw it will be redefined in so many ways. Your definitions of all of your words will change. You will say the same words, but they will mean so much more and will have a level of depth that you may or may not be capable of verbalizing.
You will come to a point that you need to face that one, big core belief. The one that terrifies you because, if it isn't true, then you will wonder who you are and if anything in your life was true at all. It will make you spin and feel frightened and confused and so many other emotions. You will see where all of your interactions were tainted by this one belief system and how it caused so many of the problems in your life as well as so many trials in the lives of those you love. It is a very sobering view my friends, a very sobering view indeed. It was very tempting for me to fall into a black hole of despair at that point, the view was so sobering. I felt hopeless and helpless. It felt as though the darkness was about to engulf me and swallow me whole.
At this point you have a choice. You can try to put the blinders back on, try to pretend you didn't see what you just saw. Or, you can plow ahead. You can finally give up, recognizing how truly hopeless we all are without God. Because, believe in Him or not, He is the power running this show and in the end, all of us are brought back to one question over and over again. We may harden our hearts. We may step away from it. We may deem Him an archaic belief used to placate terrified children, or a silly old fable good for laughs. But at the end of the day, truth is truth. If God is not, then we cannot be. There is not time for me to go into the reasoning I have behind my very adamant statement, in the affirmative, of His existence. Maybe I will do that one day, but not right now.
For now, all that needs to be known is this: You cannot truly be open in your heart until you learn to give ALL of your heart to God. You cannot give all of it to Him if you are harboring a small corner of it somewhere for safe keeping. He must have all of you, or you are not all His. If you are not all in, then He cannot heal all of your heart. He can only heal the parts you give Him because He will not take away your agency, your right to choose to come to Him or to choose to walk away. He will stand with arms outstretched, longing for you to come into them. But He will not tackle you down and wrap you up. That would be taking from me the one thing that is not His, the one thing that truly belongs only to me - my personal will.
Once I offer it to Him, Oh MY the miracles that happen! Then, as Isaiah testifies, "at an instant suddenly" all of those things which were harbored in my heart become His and I am freed from them. I am released from the burden of those things without being deprived of the lessons. His Atonement makes this miracle possible. I can think back on the things I have done, the burdens that were mine, and they are no longer burdens. They have become experiences, wonderful experiences that have taught me and continue to teach me so much. The burden is His because He wants it. The joy is mine because that is His yoke. I get to experience life and He gets to carry my burdens and leave me with only the good and the light.
So my point in all of this? You must give your whole self to God if you would truly be healed...and by giving your whole self, I mean your whole heart. And you do that by opening it up to Him, in a conversation with Him. Tell Him how you feel, why you feel, what you feel. Talk with Him, out loud, to Him. As you tell Him, He will first listen and then invite you to learn when you are ready. This learning will give you the sight needed to let go and to see things as they really are, as they really were, and as they really are to be; it allows you to see truth, eternal truth.
He is waiting to heal you, won't you give Him the chance? Once it happens, you will begin to receive all kinds of feelings and thoughts and impressions that may seem odd at first, but you know to trust that voice in your heart, the one that is left once the crust is thrown down. So trust your true self, your spirit, that has a clear connection to God. Trust this voice and learn to define when it is your spirit and when it is the Holy Spirit that is speaking. Follow this voice and you will watch miracles unfold moment by moment every day of your life.