Healing from the Past

To heal from the past, we must correct the errors in perception that prevent us from forgiving those who have harmed us. In relinquishing anger, fear, and hatred and completely forgiving past errors, we free our lives and hearts from experiencing emotional devastation and we can live fully in the present open to unlimited love. This is a path towards a renewed and transformed sense of Self that takes us closer to God and our true, Higher Self. Correcting errors of perception such as anger, fear, jealousy, and the need for retribution heals the disenfranchised aspects of ourselves that have long searched and yearned for clarity and atonement. The mental process of dissociation slips us further away from the all encompassing nature of God’s love and we develop a false sense of security – further emboldening the nightmarish dream rather than awakening from its terror and stronghold on our emotional and mental well being. In the process of trying to escape or avoid emotional danger, we actually create more negative disowned energy by psychically dividing aspects of ourselves and furthering the split between our personality and Spirit.  We should, instead, pray for healing and integration and infuse our shadow selves with rehabilitative energy and careful, spiritual nourishment. This consistent and repetitive nature of denying the present by emboldening egoistic divisions within our psyche takes us further away rather than closer to the spiritual realm. Our task is to remember Spirit’s unlimited ability to heal all atrocities rather than creating more perceptual errors which obscure our spiritual sight. Any act that is not of love is counter to the world of Spirit and is an illusion, further reminding us that our task on earth is to heal and awaken from this dimension’s obsessive identification with the physical and its associated anguish.

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Coping with Betrayal in Our Relationships

I have been considering, for quite some time, what the topic of my next blog post would involve.  So many events have occurred over the past few months that I delayed my posts because I was so overwhelmed by the continual manifestation of unwanted occurrences in my life. I kept thinking, things are going to improve and by then I will have a much more comprehensive perspective.  Well, things did not get better.  In fact, circumstances turned for the worse and then they continued to deteriorate.  Why were these horrible events happening, I kept asking myself? What have I done to deserve such treatment?  Why is this happening?  Why me?

As my world crumbled, I continued to focus on what was most important at the time: finishing my first semester in graduate school at University of Houston (pursuing a graduate degree has been a long-revered goal of mine) and keeping my eyes open for career opportunities, as my career had taken a most definite reversal and had stalled.  Then, as luck would have it, a dark cloud seemed to hover over me and within less than a month, I had three back to back car accidents that significantly sidetracked my ability to earn income.  At this point, I was driving for ride-sharing platforms while simultaneously interviewing for positions in my field.  Without a car, I was unable to earn this secondary, temporary income.  And it happened in the blink of an eye. In the worst of circumstances, things seemed to become even more bleak.

I have been a student of new age spirituality for years and years, and I knew that from all spiritual lessons I had learned, these events were happening for a reason. But why now?  This is a time when my career should flourish and I should enjoy abundance and a wealth of opportunities. The fifties are often considered the most important time in life when careers are at their highest and we experience the very best in friendships, relationships, and key moments of self-actualization.  Unfortunately, for me, nothing seemed to work.  I was stuck.  Friendships that had long been the cornerstone of my emotional ecosystem of support were no longer there. Friends that I had turned to for years and years to get through the rough times were either emotionally or physically absent, unable to reach or stubbornly indifferent to my circumstances.  These experiences brought about a revelation on just how significantly friendships change over time and the dynamics that shift our interpersonal relationships.

For many of us, we choose to enter romantic relationships and marriage because we want and need emotional support.  Life is meant to be shared and it is not much fun to be alone.  So, whether we intend it or not, our secondary and tertiary relationships, outside of our partnership or marriage, take a back seat.  We are so focused on our romantic relationship, partnership, or marriage, that we no longer provide the support that we so often gave our “bestie” or best friend throughout the years. For someone, like myself, who is not currently involved in a romantic relationship or partnership/marriage, this lack of caring or emotional indifference is a slap in the face.  We all remember those times during college when we swore to always remember our best buddies and to be there during the rough times and even in some cases, we made promises never to forget or abandon our “best friend forever”. The song “The Promise” by the group “When in Rome” certainly comes to mind:  “If you need a friend, don’t look to a stranger, you know in the end, I’ll always be there….”

Unfortunately, time mars such an endeavor during middle age and perhaps even before then.  Changing dynamics within our lives and friendships mean that we shift our priorities.  Those of us who are single probably endure the most of many friendships where a one time “best friend” or “close friend” just checks out.  And the friend that checks out may not even be aware of it!  It just happens.  It’s a part of life. However, if one exercises even a semblance of emotional intelligence, it is obvious that our most revered friendships deserve care and attention, particularly when one is experiencing a life-threatening situation and is in dire need of support.  I find it difficult to understand how anyone could turn their backs on a dear friend when they need assistance during a crisis.  Such abandonment is most definitely a slap in the face and requires us to reevaluate and examine the place, if any, this relationship should have in our lives.

Middle-age is a time when we experience a multitude of changes.  Those who have children witness their bundles of joy head off to college, our careers often have extreme demands, and our partners/spouses also have their challenges to which we must attend.  Inevitably, this is a time when our parents need us the most.  When our parents age and we tend to their needs and concerns, or we witness the cruelty of old age and all the illness and despair that can often accompany such a grueling time of life, the experience has the effect of forever changing us, the caregivers.  We have witnessed the ravages of time, despair, and illness, and we are changed. Forever.  We are not the same. And this change in how we perceive the rest of our lives is very significant.  It is painfully understood just how preciously fragile our later years are and how eye-opening it is to prepare for those last chapters in our lives. We see ourselves in our parents.  In the next twenty years or less, the same challenges that aging has brought upon our parents will affect us.  And will we have the same level of support that was provided to our own parents?  Those of us without children wonder what will happen, should the time come, and of course it will, when we will need assistance just to get through the day. And this realization certainly changes our existing interactions within friendships and relationships.  While the opportunity to bounce back from an illness or a bout of depression in our twenties and thirties was easily realized, we suddenly experience an epiphany that in our fifties, time is short. There is not that much time left, and when the “life-clock” stares at us in the face, this realization alters our perceptions, our relationships are reevaluated, and we question how they fit within our lives. Are they contributing to our wellness and happiness or are they bogging us down, contributing to depression or a sense of despair? Therefore, it is logical that we remove these friendships from our lives or limit their influence on our happiness, given that our time on this life is short – there is only one attempt at this life and it is certainly not a dress rehearsal.  It is “opening night” every single day and we must make the best of it.

So, does this mean that we just arbitrarily begin to dump our friendships? I have never been a fan of “fair-weather” friendship.  I believe that true friendship involves being there for our friends during the bad times as well as the good. Those who have even a modicum of emotional intelligence will know that dumping relationships is not easy to do and it should never be done lightly.  Especially if there is a desire on one side to continue a friendship/relationship, we should give it a decent try and should not arbitrarily cut people off. Specifically, when a friend is in a dire situation, we should do our best to provide some level of support; perhaps they are fleeing domestic violence, their life is in danger, or perhaps they need not just an ear, but help transitioning or need a temporary place to live while they sort things out. So much for those drunken promises when we were younger, in college, or in our twenties.  Those promises are certainly broken when harsh realities surface – especially harsh realities as I have described.

Recent events in my life have brought me to the realization that I cannot rely upon familiar sources of support – either because of life’s design or through unfortunately stubborn individual choices.  The ecosystem of emotional support that one may have experienced in earlier decades is significantly altered or non-existent as time passes. Changing dynamics within relationships shift the support system and it is important to recognize and adapt to these patterns.  When a crisis occurs, this shift can seem like an earthquake, so it is better to recognize the signs as they occur and adapt as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Otherwise, the very events that you thought could never happen may quickly appear within your life and the associated daunting challenges may overwhelm you when your support system is no longer there. Throughout such a seemingly adversarial environment, it is even more important to tap into our inner divinity and find a closer relationship with ourselves and God. By remembering our spiritual essence and acting in accordance with the laws of the universe, we will take giant leaps forward and will flourish once again. We discover and develop our divine, spiritual essence as we cope with unbearable situations and make soul-based, spiritually-aligned decisions during critical circumstances.

At this point in my life, I am facing a new chapter, a new beginning. And now, more than ever before, I call upon spiritual principles to assist in coping with the numerous challenges that are occurring simultaneously.  When one experiences life-threatening or changing events, it is vital to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can assist in reaching out to resources to help solve such problems.  The second action is to find emotional support however you can, through forming new friendships, seeking new support groups, or reengaging existing friendships.  When we experience a crisis, we must seek support, and often during these difficult situations, the people that we have called on for emotional support in the past are not able or willing to help us, so we must seek out other sources.  We must continue to move through the process, to heal and to remedy the problems that have led us to such disastrous circumstances.  Throughout such a process, it is very important to stay connected to our sense of a higher power, the divine source that can lead us through the darkness to light, peace and understanding.

Multiple circumstances arise out of fear, misunderstanding and jealousy.  When we examine the bulk of problems between ourselves, family members and close friends, it can often be deduced that the source of contention is a lack of communication, a misunderstanding, or a long-held grievance rooted in ego-based jealousy. When we stare deeply in the face of danger and reckon with our own mortality, a new awareness arises from such a crisis.  When we realize that danger exists in our lives, we must seek light and guidance from God.  It most definitely signals the need for a shift in consciousness that affirms: “I will not become a victim.  I deserve to live my life without fear, without the fear of losing my life.  I belong in this world and you will not take it from me.  You can threaten and bully, but you will not take away my spirit, for it is eternal.”

That shift in consciousness requires a great deal of soul-searching, meditation, and a commitment to see beyond the current situation to its resolution.  It means that we are most likely forever changed by such dangerous circumstances, but we must move forward, toward light and understanding, and with the sincere desire for peace, unity, and communion with God and spiritual principles. Every action has a reaction, and we are certain to experience karma through every decision that we make. The universe has a unique way of correcting itself and it is important to be forever open to the infinite number of possibilities that God will send our way, but only if we are open to receiving his miraculous assistance. We must try, even with our busy lives and multiple responsibilities, to make decisions that take us closer to the divinity that resides within each of us. Decision-making in the converse takes us away from Spirit and sets off a chain of unwanted occurrences in our lives. With every decision that we make, let us ask ourselves if the action we are about to take places us closer or further away from Spirit.  We owe it to ourselves, families, loved-ones, and closely-held friendships to act with kindness and Godliness, even when our physical lives remind us of scarcity and limitation. And lastly, when our loved ones or friends reach out for help amid the most daunting of circumstances, we should open our eyes and hearts and do what we can to help. It may not be our direct responsibility, but it is the right thing to do. In fact, how we respond to a friend’s sincere request for assistance may make a world of difference and save his or her life.

When we act in accordance with the laws of the universe which demonstrate consistently that scarcity and limitation are not real, they are illusions from which we have the ability to conquer, then we are open to miraculous and divine intervention. When the realization dawns that we are not held back by self-imposed constraints or limitations, then a new world appears upon the horizon and we can truly become what we have always dreamed and desired. The universe leads us through a pathway to an enlightened version of ourselves:  The Higher Self that God always wanted us to manifest here on earth is suddenly tangible. A new World, a new Self, and a new Consciousness.  It is as if we awaken from a nightmarish dream and remember who we were at the very beginning of time: joyful, abundant spiritual beings with unlimited potential for love and the wonder of the universe. If we are open to his divine assistance, he leads us to that beautiful place within our lives where we can become a better version of ourselves by remembering that we are creations of love, light, abundance, and divinity instead of fear, limitation, mistrust, anger, jealousy or delusion. When we shift our perceptions from darkness to light, fear to love, and scarcity to abundance, divine intervention awakens us to a world of infinite new possibilities.

May the love, peace, light and understanding of God be with you now and forever.

The Meaning of Success

This is a topic that has meant various things to me throughout the years,  and one that I have pondered over many times.  I can remember very clearly in my younger years in undergraduate school just how concerned and frightened I was on whether or not I would succeed.  I had these notions in my mind about what success meant.  Indeed, it was what I thought others viewed as success that guided me instead of listening to my own intuition.  I have found repeatedly that when we place control outside of ourselves, when we place others in control of our happiness, then we ultimately will “fail.”  It does not matter how much money one makes or how outwardly successful one may appear; if we do not listen to our own intuition, if we are guided by the perceptions of others, then happiness and a sense of accomplishment will elude us.

Success is something that is extremely difficult to quantify and it is highly subjective. During my undergrad years, I consistently worried about becoming successful.  Did I have to earn a certain amount of money?  Did I need to become famous? What if I never found a true sense of fulfillment?  Repeatedly in various courses ranging from psychology, sociology, literature, economics, advertising, marketing and many others, Erik Erikson’s psychoanalytic theory was discussed. It was so highly popular then that every time I came across it I experienced a kind of dread.  I remember thinking “Oh no, not the eight stages of personal development all over again!”  And I was fraught with anxiety about whether I would experience fulfillment through the wrangling of each stage in personal development posed by Erikson.  Eventually, as I experienced life and became more well-grounded and “successful” in my own eyes, then I became less anxious about my prospects of self-actualization.  Yet, I believe that the continual search for success and meaning within our work lives and our lives in general is the hallmark of the contemporary struggle to find purpose within our often-chaotic environments.

Recently, I watched a TED Seminar video in which Alain de Botton spoke on this very subject. I believe he is very much on target when he states that we must view our definitions of success through our own lenses.  Our fear of being judged by others often prompts us to make decisions so that we will not feel a sense of inferiority in relation to others.  Yet, when we act from this perspective, we often create needless problems. I have seen it occur in corporate sales environments, where the focus is not on solving customer issues or encouraging collaboration between team members, but on the soul-less pursuit of “winning” at the expense of others.  Healthy competition always has its place within corporate environments, but when individuals act out of balance within these settings, doing so creates an atmosphere of mistrust rather than cooperation.  And when this happens, the corporation ultimately loses because not everyone is operating within the appropriate framework to bring their unique contributions to the company.  They are focused more on out-performing others instead of the more important tasks of solving customer problems, increasing efficiency, and working together to create unique solutions that benefit everyone.

Therefore, a healthy work environment is a vital component of living and contributing successfully. When we operate within a supportive, healthy atmosphere, then our efforts are more focused on bringing about the objectives that create win-win scenarios, vs. destructive tactics such as pillaging over the backs of others to be the number one salesperson or to sabotage the success or experience of others due to jealousy, fear or misunderstandings. Does this mean that we always act perfectly in relation to one another?  Certainly not.  No one is perfect and no one should pretend to be, but you can certainly feel a difference within the workplace where leaders are visionary and provide all employees the operational framework and corporate culture to bring their unique gifts to the table to advance the company’s goals and objectives.  Any actions by individuals to thwart this open environment certainly can lead us to a sense of frustration.  Even when operating in such a dysfunctional environment, we must stay focused upon our inner uniqueness and the contributions we bring to our projects, teams, goals and aspirations. We can become an inspiration to others by allowing our unique gifts to shine and lead the way towards visionary business practices in which everyone is encouraged to participate within a finely woven fabric of shared values and goals.

Success is going to mean something different to everyone – and certainly, monetary compensation and wealth building are excellent examples of achievement.  Others focus on the advocacy of the marginalized and disenfranchised, and receive an enormous amount of satisfaction by helping others in need or furthering a societal cause. Who is one to judge what is more powerful or more important?  I think that Alain de Botton’s speech on success highly resonates with my own ideas of self worth, and we should view our lives through our own lenses, not through the perceptions of others, if we are to achieve a sense of fulfillment within our careers.  Our self-constructs of “what we do” often permeate throughout our entire perception of ourselves and create either the feeling of accomplishment or the despair of not having achieved our innermost goals and desires.  While we may need the support of others to achieve our own sense of success, we should not rely upon or become too heavily influenced by acceptance or rejection from others.  The compass of our achievements is expertly guided by our hearts, intuition, and unique perceptual framework.

Suggested Material:

de Botton, A. (2009). A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Lecture presented at TEDGLOBAL 2009, Oxford, England. [Video].  Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success

Immigration Reform

I recently wrote a review of an article from The Washington Post on Immigration Reform for my graduate course in Employment Law. The content of this review is below, and I welcome any comments on this controversial issue.

Immigration reform has been a turbulent issue for quite some time, and it has been the cornerstone of Trump’s agenda during the election and as a vital component of his initial strategies as President. Trump won the election primarily by appealing to the working and middle classes. This population has been adversely impacted by immigrants who compete against American laborers for lower-paying, unskilled jobs. Trump’s historic upset against Hillary Clinton was due, in part, to his messages of bringing jobs back to America, protecting the nation against immigrants who may take away American jobs at home as well as making it more difficult for companies to outsource. While I am not a fan of the Trump administration, or the discriminatory measures that he has initiated such as the Travel Ban on the Muslim population, I do, agree, that we need to protect the American middle class from further erosion. Job losses, outsourcing, factory-closings, and wage pressure have all contributed to a deleterious impact on the working and middle classes. While I disagree with his tactics, the idea of protecting the American landscape and American workers is a popular one.

A recent article within The Washington Post by  David Nakamura (2017) touches on this controversial issue by describing Trump’s proposed policy of limiting immigration to individuals with higher education vs. those who enter the country and compete against American laborers for lower paying positions. A “merit-based” approach would essentially reshape our immigration policy to curtail the massive influx of unskilled labor. At issue is the family unification approach where these individuals initially enter the country and then later bring their families as well, contributing to the overage of unskilled labor that competes with American laborers. The administration’s view is that a merit-based system would curtail entry to the country for those immigrants who are unable to make a living for themselves. This definition is somewhat vague and leads to multiple considerations and guesses as to the actual scope of such reform. In addition, it is unlikely that The administration will succeed with Trump’s plans for immigration reform since he has alienated much of America with the discriminatory and unconstitutional travel ban as well as heated, racist, and bigoted remarks that have spawned movements across the nation to oppose Trump’s orders and legislation. His policies and orders have contributed to intolerance and bigotry and have resulted in a world-wide rebuke of his Presidency and administration. It would be wise for his administration to initiate policies that make sense for America but while also upholding our most basic, constitutional freedoms and human rights. We want the American middle class to thrive and to limit the ability for immigrant workers to take away jobs from citizens, but we also want an inclusive and fair America, the foundation of which forms the most basic values we uphold and revere within our society.

Pro-immigration groups and many grassroots organizations within the country view restrictive immigration measures as counter to our policies of diversity and inclusion and seem to indicate the vast potential for disparate impact upon thousands and thousands of foreign nationals. While we want to take care of the American worker, we must also understand that we are a nation made up of immigrants, and severe restrictive efforts to limit migration, while they may appear neutral, are forms of deeply-rooted prejudice, fear and discrimination that can hurt our country and economy over the long term. We are a country that has welcome, open arms, and we must remember not to alienate ourselves from the rest of the world. Those American workers who are competing with immigrants for lower paying unskilled labor would be better served if they were encouraged to obtain advanced education or certifications to improve their careers and workplace opportunities.

Trump’s restrictive immigration stance is highly indicative of a strategy reflective of the 1920’s negative response to waves of immigrants that entered the country during that time, and immigration patterns did not increase until the “family-oriented” system returned in 1965.

So, how the Trump Administration’s stance on immigration will work is still questionable. While most of America embraces an inclusive, diverse nation, we also must look at the realities of the labor market, to make certain that there are enough jobs for our citizens while also welcoming the diverse talents of our immigrant community. Where the administration’s policy seems to be strongest is in attracting highly educated and skilled workers to help improve and contribute to the economy while not displacing American workers within the working and middle classes. Many high-tech companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, support inclusive immigration policies to attract qualified, diverse candidates. Shutting the door to these individuals seems entirely unjust and un-American. At the same time, we must make certain that we are building up our working and middle classes so that wage pressures, outsourcing and displacement do not affect this vital sector of our economy and nation. The best of both worlds would include embracing diverse immigrant populations that positively contribute to our economy and that do not threaten our labor workforce with displacement. This will take strategic implementation of immigration reform and should never rely upon scare tactics, division, racism, disparate impact, or unconstitutional practices.

Nakamura, D. (2017, March 6). It’s not just deportations and the border: Trump seeks to remake the immigration system. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/a4231b52-fec5-11e6-8ebe-6e…