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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Morning Reflection: Do you struggle being kind to yourself?

Do you struggle being kind to yourself?

Over the years of my journey into self awareness, I think I have slowly become kinder to others. I have always tried to treat other people well regardless of how I feel about them, but deep in my heart there was often judgment instead of compassion, and coldness where there could have been warmth.

But the further I have walked into my journey of awareness, the greater a depth of compassion I have found for people. I can see, or at least I think I can see, why they sometimes behave in ways that are not their best selves.

Like someone who cannot keep a secret, who is in actuality lonely and looking for ways to connect; or a person who only contacts me when they need something but who is really suffering from a deep well of personal insignificance; or another person who continually grasps at money even though they have sufficient for their needs but who is actually seeking to fill a deep personal wound of feeling less than everyone else.

As I see their patterns, and I understand how their wounds precipitate their actions, I find that I am moved by compassion to have less frustration at their behaviors, and instead a greater patience and willingness to forgive.

This is still hard for me, but I can say with honesty that I am getting better at being kinder to other people.

Yet I still struggle immensely with self kindness, and self compassion. Behaviors I can forgive in others are ones that I condemn myself for. The peace which I am able to help others achieve seems much harder to find for myself.

In short, I am my harshest critic, and my greatest source of condemnation.

But I have begun to find ways through this.

As I examine my own self stories, I have found ways to interject compassionate self talk into my judgments, and realize some small measure of change in the way that I see myself.

While there is still frustration, there is sometimes compassion; while there is still anger, sometimes there is love; while there is still a fervent desire to move forward to achieve what I believe I am capable of, there is occasionally a willingness to allow myself to rest.

Ultimately, peace is found through self acceptance, self compassion, and self love. If you are struggling with this, please don’t give up.

You are worth far more than you feel about yourself, and I truly believe that you have a part to play in our ongoing progression.

Be kind to yourself, and give yourself the gift of compassion.

You are worth it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Morning Reflection: What does your heart tell you?

What does your heart tell you?

The quality of our life resides in the quality of our choices. When I look back at my life, I find that I have chosen well in some things, and in others, I have chosen in a way that did not support my highest aspirations.

A common thread throughout my poorer choices has been an element of fear. When fear distorts my decisions, I find myself choosing the path that leads to less joy, happiness and satisfaction.

But in trying to understand myself, I have come to a realization that the most serious choices are usually the ones that start with what to think. It has taken me many years to accept the truth that no matter the situation, I have a choice in what to think about it.

One of the truths I have tried to incorporate into my life is that ‘it’s never the event, it’s the meaning we give to it’. In any situation, we actually have a choice as to how we interpret those events.

When my eldest son was born, we discovered a few hours after his birth that he would require open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect that otherwise could kill him.

At the time, I was devastated. A million thoughts went through my head, and honestly, a lot of those were along the lines of “why me, why us, why this”. Those ‘feelings’ were raw emotion expressed out of negative thoughts left unchecked in my heart, and did not serve me.

I spent years, many years, feeling like we had been poorly treated by the universe, and this feeling colored so many of my choices and understandings.

Now, some two decades later, I have reached an understanding that really, we were very lucky. His condition, while serious, was uncomplicated, and he has thrived and is doing very well.

Even though I would rather not have gone through the circumstances of his birth, I can choose to feel gratitude for the positives aspects of his condition, for the wonderful service of the medical teams who kept him alive and made him well, and for the support of family, friends and even strangers who lifted us when we were down, and carried us when we could not carry ourselves.

The hardest truth is that even my feelings are a choice, unless I decide to give up my ability to choose, and just “follow my heart”.

When I started this reflection with “What does your heart tell you”, most people probably thought this was going to be a post about following your heart, but it’s not. Your ‘heart’ is really the sum of all of your needs, wants, desires and dreams, but it’s also the repository for all of your fears, unmet needs, traumas and tears.

Unless you have walked though the deeper truths of your soul, following your heart is often a continuation of the pain and misunderstandings of yesterday, left unchecked and unrestrained so that those feelings can affect and alter your todays and tomorrows.

Follow your heart, but only when you are sure that your heart is full of truth, not error; love not hate; gratitude not selfishness; kindness not chaos.

Balance your heart, and you will live with a greater sense of gratitude and wonder.

And you can know peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 26, 2018

Morning Reflection: My ‘truths’ are found in my reactions

My ‘truths’ are found in my reactions.

It’s been 30 years since I began my journey into self awareness and understanding. At age 17, I began to be aware that I was acting in ways that were not in my best interests.

While I was engaged in these behaviors, there was always a voice in the back of my head, asking me why I was acting in such a way. I have spent years trying to understand my reasons for the choices that I make, both good (choices that empower me) and bad (choices that disempower me).

I think after 30 years I have learned some things. At this time in my life, I less frequently ‘act’ in a way that is not ‘good’, but I find that sometimes I ‘fail to act’ in a way that could be good for me.

When this occurs, I try to discover the reasons behind my inaction, so that I might find a pathway forwards into ‘good’ actions. This type of self reflection is slow, because often times the answers are shrouded in pain/misunderstandings that may be obvious to others, but are not so obvious to me.

I have found that, for myself, the greatest leaps in self understanding come when I find the time and courage to question my reactions.

I consider ‘actions’ to be emotions or behaviors that are the result of a thoughtful, careful examination of possible choices and outcomes, followed by a decision to balance my considered response within my value structure.

‘Reactions’, on the other hand, are the result of an immediate emotional response that is not modulated or controlled, nor necessarily with reference to any decision about the possible outcomes.

Reactions are when I am ‘feeling not thinking’.

Reactions are guideposts to the emotions that drive me. Reactions are not necessarily bad. Some reactions are good, some are not so good.

When I find myself reacting in a way that is not in keeping with my highest aspirations, I find that a thoughtful, careful and honest evaluation of the emotions behind the reaction can lead me to a greater understanding—a deeper awareness. This awareness gives direction to my journey of self discovery, but is it not an easy pathway to walk.

But there is great value in learning to understand myself. How else can I find peace, and help others find peace, if I am not willing to work through my own confusions and misunderstanding?

Peace is the emotion we feel when all other emotions are balanced and at rest.

Peace is found in the absence of negative reactions.

What are some of your reactions?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 23, 2018

Morning Reflection: We are all searching for our own peace

We are all searching for our own peace.

It is often said that we have to be kind, because everyone is fighting their own battle. While I agree that each battle is different, I have come to believe that all of us are, in the end, searching for the same thing.

Peace. Stillness. That feeling when you can rest, with a sense of comfort that things are in balance, and that you are on your path. Situations may not be perfect, and relationships may have their problems, but in that moment, the heart feels at one with the eternities, and a quiet comfort distills into the soul.

Recently, as I work with people trying to break through their own barriers into a greater level of peace, I have come to realize that for each of us, the equation that brings us peace is different. Just as we all have our own balance of the 6 human needs, we all have our own way of meeting and interpreting those needs.

I have been led to an understanding as to why humility is of paramount importance. How many of us can say as we enter into a discussion, a relationship or an encounter, that we take nothing of our own ego into the communication? Sometimes it is difficult to allow the other person’s definition of peace to work for them. Left unchecked, I find myself subconsciously trying to influence their desires with my own recipe for peace, and vice versa. I try to guard against this constantly.

What greater respect can we give another human being than to allow them the freedom to discover their own truth for balance in the universe? What greater disservice can we give them than to attempt, even with the best of intentions, to influence them to agree with us, and to demand of the universe the things which make us happy, but not necessarily them?

Consciousness is singular, and so are the ingredients for balance in the soul. The greatest gift I can give you, is to allow you to find your own path, your own truth, your own peace.

I strive to give that gift every day.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Morning Reflection: My failure is not my finish

My failure is not my finish.

How do you know when you’ve actually failed? Life is an exam where every day is a new sheet of paper, where the rules are mostly in your head, and where failure is often an arbitrary standard rather than a specific demarcation in your destiny.

Failure, it seems, is often more about how we decide to interpret our feelings against a backdrop of beliefs and a deluge of decisions. Too often we often shape these events into an outcome fitting our fears rather than a fire fueling our faith.

Many of life’s successes were built on the back of supposed failures. Because someone decided that a supposed failure was “not the end”, we have the post-it note. Because Winston Churchill would not accept failure, the British nation was able to rise from the ashes of Dunkirk and survive and thrive. Because he determined that his election defeat did not define him, Jimmy Carter went on from his loss to become better known as a giving, caring and loving human being.

Whatever you believe your supposed failures are, today is another chance to try. While you can’t rewrite the past, you still get to determine, in some way, how you live the rest of your future.

Failure, if indeed it is failure, is not final. It’s merely another stepping stone, a chance to learn, a time for growth.

Fail your way to success.

And you can find peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Morning Reflection: You only have this moment.

You only have this moment.

In 2017, to celebrate losing 130 pounds, I faced one of my biggest fears and went skydiving. A powerful lesson I learned that day has stuck with me.

Life is fragile, but you have to live it to enjoy it.

When I decided to go skydiving, I knew I would be scared, and yet I did it anyway. I wanted to push myself, to do something so out of character for me that it would change my life forever.

That moment happened at around 10,000 feet. As I sat in a small bumpy plane, I felt a storm of emotions. I was terrified, knowing that in a few minutes I was going to be jumping out of that plane and risking my life in the pursuit of some elusive ideal. With a cold sensation coursing through my veins, it became suddenly real. Very, very real.

I could die here today.

Realistically, I knew it was unlikely. Statistically it was very safe, yet there was still the possibility of it happening, and that small possibility was enough to scare me to a point of terror and make me think about backing out. But then everything changed.

As I looked at the other 3 jumpers in the plane, I realized with a sudden absolute certainty that there was no way I wasn’t jumping, because I was in front of the door, blocking everyone else. If I refused, in all likelihood they would throw me out anyway.

There was no way back – this was happening.

And then it all changed. As my brain encountered the raw, unfiltered truth of what was about to come to pass, I realized that since I couldn’t stop it, there was no point in worrying about it. I couldn’t change the outcome now, all worrying would do was spoil any enjoyment of the moment that I could find.

So I decided to just enjoy it, to live it, to celebrate all the changes in my life that had led me to celebrate the accomplishment of losing so much weight and enjoy the sensation of weightlessness.

And from that moment on, it was an amazing experience. As we tumbled out of the plane and reached a stable position, I felt a glorious, awe inspiring and life affirming feeling of joy, gratitude and celebration.

This was life, and I was living it. Yes it was scary, yes it was tough and yes, it could still go wrong, but I had chosen to face my fears and participate in life in a way that pushed me out of comfort zone and into a new life.

And it was glorious.

Wherever you are today, please live your life. Yes, it may be scary and yes, it could go wrong, but you have today, now, this moment. Live it as fully as you can, embracing all the good you can do in the world, and be the person you were meant to be.

My hope for you today is that you will fully live your life, with gratitude for who you are and with courage to become all that you can yet be.

Live life, feel gratitude and celebrate peace.

And become.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Morning Reflection: An elusive sense of peace

An elusive sense of peace.

In my youth, I craved excitement, adventure, the new, the fast, the different. As I have grown, my desires have changed, as I search for calmness, a wider perspective, a more balanced alignment of my soul.

Yet peace is elusive, and I think I am beginning to understand why. It may be that my requirements for peace are driven by my ego, and not by a sense of reality.

Growing up in a somewhat dysfunctional home, I developed a sense that in order to find peace, I had to have control over everything. Chaos was an ever frequent visitor, and as a child, chaos robbed me of one of my needs, a need for certainty.

In my quest for control, I learned several skills, or behaviors, that sustained me as a child, but as an adult have caused pain for myself and those around me.

I learned to withdraw from uncertainty, which creates strain in my relationships as I fail to open up, be honest and share my true feelings.

I learned to manipulate people; to change their actions towards me in an effort to protect myself. This is something I desperately try to avoid as an adult, yet I find myself doing this as a reflex and I wonder if people really like me, or the manipulations that they see affected in my day to day behaviors. This creates a profound sense of uncertainty.

I learned that in order to achieve peace, I had to avoid risk, which has resulted in massive pain for myself and my family as I wasted almost a decade of my life working in a situation which did not benefit us.

I learned to live with the pain of not living my purpose, trading a potential but uncertain future for a certain but painful now.

As an adult, I continue to struggle with these child-formed beliefs of control, which are fantasies not realities. This behavior continually deprives me of a possible sense of peace, one that is rooted in faith rather than fear, courage rather control, and possibility rather than perfectionism.

Peace, I have found, is far more elusive than I had imagined.

And it is a difficult journey.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 19, 2018

Morning Reflection: The difficult dichotomy of Jekyll and Hyde

The difficult dichotomy of Jekyll and Hyde.

All of us have the capacity for good, and a capacity to act in ways that are more painful and destructive. The truth of our lives is how we navigate the two, the balance that we create.

Why are we sometimes able to be such good, caring, kind and considerate people, only then to act later in a way that is destructive to ourselves and those around us, even those whom we profess to love?

In working with people, I have come to the conclusion that the part of us that acts in ways that are destructive arises out of an imbalance of our needs, and an inability to see into ourselves. As I have written before, the truths of ourselves are often shrouded in pain, which is hard to confront and even harder to control.

And sometimes, they are buried so deep that we are unaware of them, yet they create such a pull on us that we are drawn into emotions and behaviors that are not in alignment with our highest aspirations.

All of us, however far along our journey of enlightenment, need the assistance of others to help us see the truths of ourselves that escape our awareness. While reflection and meditation can help us to learn deep truths about who we are, oftentimes the kind observations of a caring friend can allow us to open new paths of understanding into our deepest soul.

In my own journey, I seek to balance the wounds of my soul with the peace and happiness I find in helping others. The more I serve, the less my soul cries out for its own needs, and I find a peaceful balance that brings me joy, and sets my feet on a pathway of peace.

Balance is the key. I just wish it were easier.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 16, 2018

Morning Reflection: Failure is not an option, it is a requirement

Failure is not an option, it is a requirement.

Often as I talk with people about their goals, dreams and aspirations, the concept of failure is the quiet unspoken monster lurking behind their words. What happens if I try and it doesn’t work out? What would people say about me, how will I feel?

The fear of failure has killed more dreams and stifled more aspirations than actual failure ever has. In my life, I have allowed fear of failure to enslave me and prevent me from trying and achieving.

But it’s rarely the actuality of failure that we are afraid of. That’s simply something “not working out”. What we fear is what that failure would ‘mean about us’, and how it would affect our sense of significance and worth.

Where did this harmful and destructive belief come from? Anyone who has ever become great at anything has failed many times over. Why don’t we celebrate the effort, the intent, the willingness to risk and the acceptance of the possibility of things not working out?

Because we are afraid of judgment, both others and our own.

Because somewhere in our societal evolution, we accepted the lie that not achieving some arbitrary standard said something about who we are as a person.

Because we ourselves have adopted the falsehood that our worth is measured by what we achieve.

How would your life be different if you built failure into your plans? I am trying to do this now. As I evolve through my journey, I am beginning to plan for failure, which is just simply things ‘not working out’.

If I plan for things to not work out, then I can accept that risk easier, knowing that it doesn’t say anything about me, but is simply a reflection of the reality that things can go wrong, and sometimes do.

Changing ‘failure’ to ‘not working out’ is a small shift of language, but a powerful release of energy into the channel of your dreams and aspirations.

How has this fear held you back, and what can you change with this small understanding?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Morning Reflection: When you can’t explain the pain that you feel.

When you can’t explain the pain that you feel.

Sometimes, there are no words to adequately express the things we feel. How do you describe the agony of losing your first love, of your first significant public embarrassment, or of shame when you realize that you have let yourself down?

How do you describe the overwhelming feeling of happiness when you truly, madly and deeply love another person beyond all understanding?

Language, it seems, is insufficient to fully explain our emotions. Poets craft with words, singers with songs and artists with paint and canvas… but usually we fall short.

Often when I am coaching with someone, we reach a point beyond which they are unable to vocalize their feelings about a certain event in the past or express their fears of what could come in the future. As though the ability to explain has been taken from them, they hesitate, stutter and often fail to even briefly explain the thoughts and feelings that they encounter in their soul.

These are known as mind blocks, but I choose to think of then more as soul barriers. Often the truth behind these barriers is wrapped in pain, and is usually originally experienced in childhood, where our reasoning is limited, and our vulnerability amplifies the intensity of the pain.

Such painful emotions are not coded in language, but in sensations and images. The feeling part of our brain uses no words, but the part of our brain that tries to understand these feelings uses language to make sense of things.

And so the disconnect is born, and we have to painfully drag out these emotions, and examine them through the lens of language, so that we might pick out the falsehoods that accompany these sensations and images, and lay them to rest.

The next time you feel afraid, angry, sad, threatened or any other unwanted emotion, try to explain as clearly as possible why you feel that way. The answers may surprise you.

For practice, try explaining the emotions that the picture accompanying my words evokes. Share your description if you feel so inclined.

This process of explaining emotions is hard, but worthwhile. Unresolved pain creates more barriers to peace than anything else I have encountered.

The journey of self awareness is a long road, but the destination is a place of wonder.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Morning Reflection: A desire to be seen.

A desire to be seen.

Someone very dear to me once told me that being loved was having someone “notice you, so the passing of your days meant something, and didn’t just disappear into obscurity”. Another dear friend offered the perspective that love was a peaceful haven in the midst of an impersonal and uncaring universe.

I would suggest that love is “how you spend your soul”.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, I would ask you how you are “spending your soul”? Are you waiting, hoping and longing for someone to notice you so that you have someone with whom you can share? Are you meagerly withholding love as a protection to your heart, or as revenge for past deeds and failures.

Love is the strangest emotion, in that the harder you give it, the greater your capacity to feel it grows. Ultimately, love is the most uplifting and purifying emotion, when it arises from a deep and overwhelming concern for the welfare of another.

In its truest form, love moves us to care outside of ourselves, and make the world a better place.

Today, please be aware of those who live without the love that they desire, and share some of your love with them. In spending some of your soul with another, you will find peace, happiness and enlightenment as you transcend your own concerns, and give without taking, and love without losing.

Who are you loving today?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Morning Reflection: The truth will set you free, but first you have to find it.

The truth will set you free, but first you have to find it.

As human beings, we use stories in our heads to explain our experiences. The story of our childhood, the story of our relationship, the story of why something didn’t work out or why we can’t achieve something.

But how often are those stories true?

As a parent, I’ve had to try to talk to my two wonderful boys about something that happened, and marveled at how they have two very different stories about why something got broken, or why a disagreement started. It’s instinctive as a child, and often still as an adult, to create a story in our mind that reflects what we want to have happened or to happen, rather than what did, or what could.

Stories are so very powerful because once they are told, we rarely go back to examine their veracity. They are accepted as truth, and we live our lives from the meanings we draw from them.

When was the last time you questioned the stories that you tell yourself in your head? The more I examine the truth of my own stories, I find meanings that enable me to justify my actions, live in my comfort zone and sometimes justify my continued bad opinion of another.

If we are not careful, we find ourselves writing the stories in our heads to meet our 6 human needs, but not in a way that positively encourages our growth.

Today, I invite you to reflect on the deepest stories that you tell yourself, and see if they are really true, or shaded to protect you and limit your vulnerability.

The more adept you becoming at seeing the real truth behind the stories you tell yourself, the greater self knowledge you will achieve, and the more at peace you will feel.

Know yourself, accept yourself, live yourself, and find peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 12, 2018

Morning Reflection: Healing by Serving

Healing by serving.

All of us have injuries to our soul in one form or another. For some, it may be due to a difficult childhood, an abusive spouse, or a sudden and catastrophic loss of a part of our life that can never be recovered.

Others may have wounds that are ‘self-inflicted’, from an unwise choice, a momentary lapse in judgment, or a desire to meet a need that spirals into a history of bad choices leading to broken dreams.

No one escapes pain in this life, and no one gets to live without hardship, difficulty and struggle.

There is rarely a ‘way out’ of these situations, but there is often a way ‘through’.

If we are prepared to live it.

I recently asked a mentor of mine how I could move beyond where I am at in a certain aspect of my life. His answer touched me with a simple truth.

“Try to serve at a higher level’.

When we move from surviving to serving, we move from fear to fearlessness. When we dedicate ourselves to a greater cause than our own comfort, our pain and sadness can often be swallowed up in a servant heart, willing to bear our burden for the sake of others. When the hardships of life are viewed through a prism of hope, we encounter a sublime truth that can elevate our soul beyond its current engagement into a higher evolution.

We learn that often, our suffering is only such because of the way we interpret it. Suffering viewed through selfishness produces pain, while hardship viewed through the hope of helping others lifts us out of ourselves, and into a higher order of living.

Today, I invite you to find lift your heart through service, especially if that service stretches you beyond your current comfort into a greater giving.

Service is the pathway to peace, the decision through your difficulties, and the surest way I know to strengthen your heart to bear hardships with happiness.

Serve where you stand, and soon you will stand higher.

How may I serve you today?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 9, 2018

Morning Reflection: I gave, even though it wasn’t enough

I gave, even though it wasn’t enough.

Last night, after a long work day, I stopped to pick up a milkshake for my son who is sick. Through the window of the drive through, I saw something that stopped me cold.

A man sitting at a table on the other side of the restaurant was rubbing his hands. Repeatedly, fervently, agitated and uncontrollable. His appearance was unkempt, and he seemed uncertain of who or where he was. In those few brief seconds of vision, I could begin to see the difficulties that his life held.

My snap diagnosis was either mental illness, or some kind of cognitive deficit. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sadness envelop me, as I pictured the life that this poor man has. For him, each day is a struggle. Not to achieve the shining heights of his ambitions, but to survive in a world that is confusing, difficult and often cruel.

As I pulled away from the drive through window, I suppressed the urge to cry for this poor man. I asked my wife, who had seen my sadness, “how do we make it right, how do we balance this”? The scope of the problem seemed overwhelming.

But in the moment that I asked her, I realized a powerful truth. That too often, I have done nothing because it seemed that anything would not be enough, and that fate itself would laugh at my small effort.

And so I rebelled. I rebelled against the despair that tried to hold me down. I rebelled against my ego that wanted to protect me from feeling uncomfortable. I rebelled against the voice in my head that told me I was trying to hold back the tide with my bare hands. In that moment, I rebelled against suffering, pain, sadness and hopelessness.

And I did something. I asked her for the $10 bill that we had just received in change. She gave it to me, and added the free sandwich gift card that we had also been given. I pulled out of the drive through, and back towards the front of the restaurant.

As I saw him again through the window, my original diagnosis seemed to hold up.

I stopped the car, and with a deep breath entered the door and walked over to him.

In a brief dialogue, I told him that I wanted to give him the $10 and the gift card. I told him that he was my “good deed” for the day. He stared at me, unsure as to why this stranger was giving him money in the midst of a fast food restaurant.

Truth is, I’m still not sure why I did it either.

But something in me, some part of my soul, connected with him in a way that I cannot express.

I realize that what I did will not change his life. I’m not sure what would. I was probably trying to hold back the tide.

But for one moment, in one brief intersection of two human beings, I acted in defiance of all that seeks to debase our existence. I can’t change too much of the world right now, but I can make small changes to help someone else have a day that is a little brighter, a night a little warmer, and a life just a little bit happier.

I don’t tell you this for my gain. I tell you this to ask for your help. Today, please find someone, anyone, who is suffering, and try to make their lives just that little better.

The universe can be cruel, hurtful, deceitful and unkind. My mission is to try, in whatever way I can, to alter that.

And I need your help.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Morning Reflection: Are you addicted to this?

Are you addicted to this?

As I look around in the world, I see more and more people suffering from addictions. Some are addicted to drugs, both prescription and illegal; some are addicted to status with their brand labels and designer tags; some are addicted to their electronic worlds which provide endless distraction often at the expense of value.

But most of all, I see addiction to certainty.

People like certainty. It provides a buffer against the chaos of the universe, but it also provides protection against possibilities. The possibility of being wrong, the possibility of being hurt, the possibility that things are not as you believe them to be.

We like certainty because it feels good. Calming. Comfortable. Controlled.

But certainty addiction can also create blockages on the pathway to peace. Being unwilling to let go of a certainty, and embrace possibility, is often the greatest blockage to truth. Truths that are now accepted were once taken as heresy. Things we are certain of today will eventually be shown to be wrong.

I invite you to become comfortable with uncertainty. Know less, listen more. Only with an open mind, and a heart willing to listen, can you progress beyond where you are at.

This does not mean that you have to change who you are. Rather, be willing to listen to an opposing point of view with honest sincerity; be willing to examine your own views before trying to break down those of another.

Above all, be willing to give up your certainty about who you are, and instead embrace who you can become. When you learn to identify with principles rather than labels, your life and service will change.

Trees survive the storm, because they are rooted but flexible. Certainty is stiffness, being willing to trust and become comfortable with uncertainty is flexibility.

Flexibility is growth, and growth is peace.
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Morning Reflection: Malignant does not necessarily mean malicious

Malignant does not necessarily mean malicious.

I wrote yesterday about how we sometimes maintain psychological relationships with those who have died, and how those relationships can be a source of strength and/or pain, depending on the nature of the relationship.

But it has become clear to me that sometimes, as a result of a ‘fear of speaking ill of the dead’, we shy away from truly understanding the effect that an ongoing psychological relationship with someone who has passed on can have in our lives. (This can also be true for those who are still living, but I’ll write about that another day).

Somehow, we may feel that admitting the truth that someone who has passed on either had, or still has, a malignant effect in our lives, is disrespectful and unkind. Rather than behave in a way that we feel is wrong, we shy away from examining and making peace within the relationship.

Today, I would invite you to reflect on the truth that malicious and malignant are not always synonymous. Just because someone had a malignant effect on your life doesn’t necessarily mean that they were a bad person.

In my life, there have been two people who have caused me great pain. I honestly believe that neither of them intended to.

Because of limitations of their own, caused by their own previous trauma and ongoing environmental and emotional issues, they caused and still in some aspects still cause me to feel pain and a lack of peace.

Recognizing that they are toxic to me is a start.

Recognizing that they did not intentionally hurt me helps me to release some of the pain and anger I feel in the ongoing psychological relationship.

Recognizing that I need to examine and make peace with their memory, and that I can do so without it being a negative statement about who they were/are as a person, allows me the freedom to truly go deeper into my soul, and make peace with the chaos I find there.

One day, I hope for the pain I feel to be swallowed up in my concern for those who may be causing me distress. This will only occur as I balance my needs, grow in humility and kindness, and practice daily the art of caring for others.

Malicious is not necessarily malignant. Accepting this truth can help you to find balance and peace now with those of your past, present and future.

It is my deepest wish for you to find peace, and then lead others to it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Morning Reflection: The dead are never really gone from us.

The dead are never really gone from us.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of a phone conversation with a wonderful lady who was trying to work through a problem. She was willing to talk with me to see if I could offer a different perspective, and in a conversation that lasted over an hour, we were able to identify a possible cause of pain and resistance.

Together, we understood that although a family member of hers had passed on, she was still in a psychological relationship with that family member because of some of the things that were said and done by that person. The relationship was not a completely peaceful one, and even now, years after the person’s passing, was still affecting my friend deeply.

Over this last weekend, I was privileged to help another person, someone who has had a very hard time adapting to the death of a family member. As we talked together, she came to the realization that some of her deep anger and frustration was because of the loss of the way that family member had made her feel.

She had felt unconditional love from this family member, which was not necessarily what she felt from others in her family. As we talked, it became clear to us that a significant portion of her being ‘stuck’ in her anger was because of the loss of that unconditional love. Understanding this will hopefully help her process through this a little easier now.

This post was almost titled “The dead never leave us”. In truth, we maintain psychological relationships with those who have passed on, good or bad. They may be relationships that are a source of strength, or they may be relationships that continue to hurt us, even though the person is no longer actively hurting us. Mostly, these ongoing relationships are subconscious based, whispering to our souls in a language we understand, but fail to put into words in our conscious mind.

Understanding those relationships, and working through acceptance and forgiveness, can eventually lead us to a peaceful relationship with those who have gone before us. This can be a freeing, powerful and uplifting experience.

Although the dead may have gone onwards, they live in our hearts and especially in our minds.

I think I will write more about this tomorrow. There are things that need to be said and understood.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 5, 2018

Morning Reflection: The Eye in your Identity

The Eye in your Identity.

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Truly a miracle, our eyes speak as loud, if not louder, than our words. Joy, pain, hatred, love; all of these are communicated to the outside world by the very thing that we use to see that world.

Unfortunately though, we don’t always trust what our eyes show us. Even though our vision shows us as we are, many of us suffer with a picture of ourselves that is not supported by the things that we actually see.

Why don’t we trust the picture in the mirror? Why do we see others as better, and ourselves as the perpetual underdog in a competition that exists nowhere outside of our minds?

Seeing is believing they say, but we seem to have a hard time believing what we see when it speaks to our value, our worth, our goodness.

Today, I’d like to invite you to see yourself as if from another’s perspective. To do this, strip away all the negative self beliefs that you have, and really focus on all of the good things that you could see about yourself, if you really wanted to.

If you will allow it, there will come a feeling of peace as you being to see yourself as a true reflection. The world tries endlessly to make you feel less than you can see.

But only when you see and understand that you are enough, will you be able to find a sense of calmness in your soul, and be able to reach out to others with everything you have.

Today, see you. The real you. See your goodness, see your love, see your worth.

And believe.
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 2, 2018

Morning Reflection: A Sacred Existence

A sacred existence.

Today, I invite you to pause, and reflect. Reflect upon the unbelievable opportunity that you have been given to be alive, now, here.

In the midst of all of life’s trials, tribulations, struggles and strife, there can come an overwhelming joy and happiness, if only you realize where you are.

While our planet, our world, has many occupants, it only has one of you. You are empowered with passion, power, potential and possibility.

If it has been a long time since you felt a sense of wonder at your existence, I invite you to consider that in all of time, in all the worlds, in every facet of reality that makes up this universe, you are here.

While here may be difficult, frightening, painful or lonely, please take a moment to look up and comprehend that our world, this sky, this ball of rock, these majestic oceans, are moving through a universe of unparalleled beauty, magnificence and grace.

And you are a part of it.

Your existence is sacred, because it is happening.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes