Tag Archives: music

Part 2: Making New Associations: Moving from Scarcity to Plenty

So I was running on the beach today, listening Def Leppard, like you do, and a song caught my attention, as an good example for our blog today. We are going back to the idea that each one of us has a worldview and that includes our perception of what is “ENOUGH”, and of the concepts of Plenty and Scarcity. Today’s suggested shift is moving from a perception of scarcity to understanding there is Plenty to go around, moving into the life expanding concept of Plenty, instead of being sucked into the fear vortex of Scarcity. This shift can apply to area of our lives, though time and money first come to mind. We can either believe we live in  Plenty and most often experience a sense of grateful generosity, or live in the fear of never having enough. In so doing, struggle with envy, selfishness and the unhappiness that comes with feeling like you won’t be taken care of by the Universe, God, or those you love. (By the way, I know I am dating myself with the Def Leppard reference;)

The song is called “Get Rocked” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBcsCn9QyUQ and it could possibly serve as an anthem for many Americans. The young man only wants to take care of himself and his own pleasure 24/7. In one amusing stanza, his paramour puts classical music on the radio and he nixes it rudely and suggests a “rock”. Unless she is a robot, I bet he got nothing that day. Selfishness is unappealing to most of us, even as we struggle with it. He was stuck in the idea of Scarcity, that there was not enough pleasure in life and he had to push to get his first, all the time. Well, if he had listened to her classical music for a while, perhaps she might have considered his “rock”, of whatever kind he was suggesting!

Being stuck in a Scarcity mentality causes tremendous anxiety, sometimes selfishness, and often misery. When we believe there is not enough (time, money, possessions, friends, lovers, etc.,) our focus is rigidly fixated on not losing what we have. We can get stuck in a loop of trying hard to get more and keep that more in a pile that we can store and protect. A pile that will provide everything we need forever. The misery comes from a sense there will not be enough for us, NOT from the size of our pile! Please take a minute to let that sink in. It is an important understanding. When we mainly focus on what we do not yet have, or look at our pile as if it were insufficient, it is very hard to feel joy and optimism because our Autonomic Nervous System codes not having enough as a survival issue. Hence, focusing on scarcity, brings great anxiety.
Some of the happiest people I know have a rather small pile in comparison to others, however, their pile is not their focus and they live in grateful generosity and lots of joy. I am also honored to know people who have largish piles, but are so generous and open handed, because they are not stuck in Scarcity or fearfully protecting their pile. If you have a deep abiding sense that there is enough for you, and for others, it is hard to scare you. And, you will probably be willing to expand energy to share your pile with those who seem to be in deepest need. I am not suggesting there is no poverty or terrible places of scarcity in the world, but that there are not so many here where we live. And, we can change some of those if we are willing to live differently. To borrow a concept from a recent #Rob Bell kick ass presentation, the Universe is expanding, it keeps making more. People have children, who have more children, trees make apples that make more trees, etc., the Universe is a expanding self-giving reality. When we live with the understanding of Plenty we can change behaviors and conditions that might be causing scarcity for others less fortunate than ourselves. Just to give one example, food production experts have said for years, if Americans would change their habits and eat less red meat, so much more food could be produced. If you read the Omnivore’s Dilemma, http://www.amazon.com/The-Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History/dp/1594200823  he makes the claim the earth could produce enough to feed all human beings if we did things differently.

If you are wondering where you fall on this continuum, because it is one, and we can move back and forth throughout our lives, try giving a small treasured possession or some money away. Or do something for someone expecting nothing back for your time and expanded energy. How you feel will help identify for you, where you might fall.

The point is not that we are bad or defective if we are not living with a sense of Plenty most often, but that we are cutting ourselves off from joy, a sense of safety and a well-spring of gratitude that comes from living with a deep realization of how much we already have. I encourage you to try to notice your most predominate association with these concepts this week. I speak from personal, and professional experience as a therapist the past decade and a half, when humans move away from the concept of Scarcity, their anxiety drops substantially.  May this become your experience this week if you feel stuck. You can even use the sensations that come when you have an  experience of scarcity as your reminder to shift your focus back to Plenty and really look at all that you do have and all the good that is currently in your life.

African Sky Vista
African Sky Vista

Going deeper

1.) Which end of the continuum do you fall closest to much of the time? What sensations do you experience in your body with the thoughts of Scarcity or Plenty?

2.) What were your Family of Origin’s (FOO) most common attitude towards the concepts found in this blog? Did your parents’ differ in their examples to you? Remember, more is caught by a child than taught. How we see our folks act, becomes our normative experience. What do you desire to be your predominate attitude? That is what matters the most.

Join a 3 week Anxiety Reduction Workshop held here in San Diego monthly. Call 619-437-1465 for details.

Blog 19: Rage, Art & Poetry

Today we will talk about Art, and specifically, poetry. Poetry is a powerful art medium that combines words, metaphors, and images in a manner that deeply touches the human soul. According to wikipeda.com “Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretation to words, or to evoke emotive responses.” Today we value conventional poetry less than our ancestors did, but our musicians and moviemakers are this generation’s poets. And I would suggest, that is one reason why we value them so deeply and sometimes “worship” some of our favorite bands and musicians.

But an additional benefit of poetry is the reason it is today’s focus. If you can recall the subjects from recent blog posts — emotion, sensation and emotional regulation— then you will see where I am going with this. Poetry is a wonderful means and medium to help us Experience and Express our big emotions. (Remember those 2 E’s that help us better handle our upsetting emotional storms?) By connecting to what we really “feel” inside, we can use the energy generated, and pour it into a poem. Sharing the raw pain/anger/confusion/joy or terror that we feel, allows other humans to realize they are not alone in these states. Poetry has an intimate connecting effect, it often prompts us to say, “Oh you feel that too! Wow, I thought I was alone in this.”  

As a therapist working with anxiety and trauma, I hear terrible stories from people of all ages. Some of these stories are harder to shake off than others and I feel the impact in my body. It is especially hard when working with children or teens. Some stories really trigger me because I have felt or experienced similar emotions, or even situations. In the past I got scared of being overwhelmed by all the pain that found its way into my office day after day. However, years ago, I found out with the help of a wise wizard woman, (you know who you are, and Yes, there are still those living on the planet) that poetry was a wonderful way to allow processing and releasing of these big somatic impacts. So I started writing poetry out of my own rage, confusion, and pain, and the vicarious pain of the courageous people I have the joy of journeying alongside of on this crazy path called life.

Since for many, anger is such a difficult emotion to healthily express, I will show how anger can be expressed in two poems I will use to end today’s blog. Poetry can allow a sense of playfulness, even when expressing rage. (Any poem about clients are a compilation of client stories in order to protect client confidentiality.)

Poem 1- Superhero        by Wanda Brothers

When I grow up, I wanna be

a super-hero, with big black boots

wielding a lengthy whip,

and a surplus of superpowers.

 

My job will be my joy

chasing villains, busting bad guys,

making a safer world for us all,

enacting the eventually promised justice,

that I lack the patience to wait for.

 

I will be respected and feared

and little old ladies will thank me,

and bake me casseroles

for saving their grandchildren

from the swine that pollute

our earth like raw sewage,

raiding and raping with impunity

until they run into me.

 

Then shaking with terror,

they will pee their pants

piteously pleading for the mercy

they denied many a victim.

With studied gravity, I will demur,

and with a pretense of regret, 

I will annihilate them, and then,

dance on their graves with glee.

Poem 2 – Helpless Rage for a Drowning Client   -By Wanda Brothers

My rage is hidden, shy, sly.

It rises and I turn to look

and it’s already gone

like the view in the rear view mirror.

 

The parents are killing her, I say.

and the Bureaucratic bunglers don’t stop them

everyone looks the other way

and she is drowning in front of my eyes.

I give her a breath of clean air

here and there, but stand aside,

as she thrashes, like a good citizen,

while they murder her by inches,

and hack her soul to bits.

 

I want to stab them, slash them

into ribbons, and feed her their flesh

but it will do no good,

nothing does, so I take up

again, my useless vigil

and give her another breath.

       Going Deeper:

  1. Do you enjoy poetry as an art form, if so, who is your favorite poet? If not, can you notice how the lyrics to some of your favorite songs find their way into your soul? 
  2. I encourage you to try writing a poem or a song about the next big emotional storm that you go through. Allow the emotions and sensations to generate words and images and see what happens internally after you get them down on paper or on your ipad/iphone/imac or PC. Then, as one more big step, I suggest you share it with the person closest to you. I think you will be thrilled at how they respond. 
  3. If you want to send me any of your poetry, feel free, I would love to read it. info@sdtraumatherapy.com