Monday, December 12, 2016

Seeing Your Connections


The brilliant psychologist, Dr. Naim Akbar said that we should ask ourselves on a daily basis, “Why, me, here, now?”

I love this question. It has led me down some rather amazing pathways.

Last week, I used the question to keep me from spiraling into anger, guilt and just plain madness.

I was scheduled to work with the leadership team at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. It is their mission “To restore, sustain and enhance the health and developmental potential of children through excellence in care…”

Their Genomics Institute is running head-long into the future, finding cures and bringing them back. I’d love to tell you more, but I can't; no really, I can't.

What I really want to convey is the fact that life is already connected and it’s our job to find out how.

I am the single mother of five adopted children. They all have differing needs and “specialties” and although they are now adult-ish, they still need me.

My life is hectic and full of surprises, but it also follows a very tight schedule.

I was scheduled to be at Rady this past weekend, but I what I didn’t know was that my daughter would discover that she had enough credits to graduate with her best buddy on the same weekend.

 I needed to be in San Diego on Friday and then again on Monday. To do the job and the graduation,  I would need to fly from Savannah to San Diego on Thursday, then take a red-eye flight back Friday night so I could land just in time for the graduation on Saturday. Then, I’d need to fly right back to San Diego early Sunday morning.

I try my best to be present and in the moment. I don’t think about a flight to leave until I am done doing what I am supposed to do.

We spend so much time thinking about the next thing, that we don’t truly engage with the thing that we are doing.

But, I’m talking about connections, so let me get to it.

On Friday, when I rode up to the campus of Rady Hospital, my mind flashed back to 20 years ago. In that moment, I saw myself rushing from a flight to that same hospital to be with my daughter after an ENT surgery.

Back then, I’d felt bad about not being on time and I felt guilty for being at work in the first place. I said this to Autumn, my escort and beautiful conductor for that day’s event. She looked at me in surprise and said, “Do you know the name of the surgeon?”

I told her no, but I’d remembered his kind face.

She smiled and said, “I bet that’s him.” She was pointing to a man who appeared to be gliding across the hospital campus grounds. “That’s Dr. Kearns, he’s now the CEO.”

I thought, this can’t be happening. What are the odds?

For me, they are pretty high. I’m always seeing and finding connections. We all can.

We are so busy focusing on what we have to do next, that we can’t see the life connections that are right in front of us.

I went from being exhausted from just thinking about all of the flying I would have to do, to remembering the day I came rushing in for that surgery.

Then later that afternoon, I really got the magic.

After I spoke to the leadership team, Dr. Kearns came up to talk with me. He’s tall enough for me to need to really look up. He was talking to me and at one point, he looked down into my eyes and touched my shoulders.

I’m crying as I type this, because when he did, I was flooded with the same emotion I had 20 years ago.

Back then I  felt guilty about not being at the surgery and then I felt bad for being late. When I’d got there, my daughter was in recovery. She still had bloody bandages on and she had just woken up. She looked as if she wanted to say, “Why did you let them do this to me?”

I was crying when Dr. Kearns came in. Once he discovered that the new person was actually the mother, he touched my shoulder and told me that everything was fine and she was better than okay.

I told him that I should have been there and he actually said, “Don’t do that to yourself, it’ not good for her or for you.” And then like some kind of surgery ghost he was gone.

Life is full of déjà vu’s and connections. We don’t see them, because we don’t want to.
We spend more time seeing separation than we do connections.

Here’s the thing; life is already connected.

Look and see.
Be you, be well, be why, me, here, now?
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dealing with Guilt, Shame and the Past

Dreaming and Imagination

New Tools for Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Yesterday, I heard a sermon from the very brilliant Rev. Helen White.

Helen is one of those power-house folks who catches you off guard. She’s small of stature with a beautiful and open kind face. Her voice is soft and soothing and she delivers what appears to some as a small tap but to others the perfect combination of a one-two punch.

Helen weaves story and scripture so well that her listeners are laughing one moment and chastised the next. 

Here’s the thing though, you never ever feel corrected; you only feel loved.

In yesterday’s sermon, Helen crept up on a subject I’ve been dealing with personally and professionally for at least 40 years; how to deal with guilt and shame.

In Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, David R. Hawkins’ wonderful treatise on emotions and their corresponding vibration/energy, Hawkins points out that the lowest emotional vibrations are those of guilt and shame. They not only add nothing to the world around you, they actually suck the energy from the room while diminishing the energy of the guilty and shameful party.

Helping folks move beyond guilt and shame into a purpose-filled life has become my mission but you can’t get to purpose when you are burdened with the guilt of the past.

Helen, offered a beautiful and unique approach; dream your way to a better outcome.

Instead of wallowing in the past; instead of going around and around the same sin/fault over and over and over again, imagine a better outcome. See yourself going down a different path.

 Imagine what you’d like to do and become. Be as specific as an artist painting and sculpting the smallest detail. Don’t just use your mind to turn another corner, use it to see the entire layout of the city.

Dream of all of the wonderful possibilities you can live.

As I pondered Rev. Helen’s sermon yesterday morning and into the night, I began to think about those who never fall into guilt or shame. They do not possess the over-stimulated conscious. They lack what Freud called the super-ego; that thing that serves to remind us of our moral correctness.

These sociopaths and narcissistic individuals have already imagined themselves to be above it all. They are already perfect in God’s and everyone else’s sight. They see no need for forgiveness, because they believe that they have never, ever done anything wrong.
They are entitled to whatever they take and have created a story befitting of their illusion.

We need to feel guilty when we have wronged ourselves and others, but most of us have wallowed in the guilt for so long that it has gone beyond the job of correction and moved us into a space of mournful regret and depression.

Feel the guilt, ask for forgiveness and then imagine yourself going down a different road. Take time and meditate on another possibility. See the road so clearly that it becomes your choice the next time and the next.

Instead of wallowing in guilt and shame, create new outcomes and opportunities for yourself and forothers.
See your way clear.
Be you, be well, be free.
Bertice Berry, PhD.