..sometimes our eyes adjust to the dimness and searching for the light is not only challenging but paradoxically painful when we find it.”  — S.W. Scott

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Listen To Me

Listen to me, I wish to speak
My mind; let lightening streak
As thunder echoes ancient ills
A rebel yell beneath the still

Ltn — 10/2011

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It Was Foggy And We Came To A Field of Horses…


This gorgeous picture was taken by my sister who, with two friends, is currently walking the El Camino Santiago in Spain, something I have dreamed of doing for years.  They will be walking for five weeks through beautiful Spanish country-side, resting to eat and sleep in Auberges tucked high up in the Pyrenees mountains, old monasteries and low-cost but quaint hostels.

She begged me to go with her but I declined.  Why?  I don’t know!!! It probably has something to do with my fear of flying and my annoying discomfort with the unknown.  Don’t really know. But what I do know is that despite the fact that I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, I clearly have more work to do!

When I look at her pictures my heart aches at what I might be missing.

I am so proud of my sister for having the guts and determination to do this.  She is, in my eyes, quite amazing.  And an awesome photographer don’t you think?


Posted in Happiness, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth, Self-Actualization, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Balanced Life

So, as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted for over a year now (!).  I didn’t make a conscious decision to stop posting, it just happened.   I’m not certain why.  Perhaps I exhausted the subject matter, or maybe I exhausted myself.  Writing about personal growth, while at the same time growing in leaps and bounds, was enlightening, but intense.  I was consumed by it, (both the self-examination and the writing), and I realize now that I needed to find a little more balance in my life.  Having said that, I don’t regret a single second of my time spent in deep self-examination.  As challenging as it was, it is an absolute necessity for growth, and it had to be done.

I am continuing on my journey, but I am taking more rests along the path and enjoying the sights on the way.  I still have my eye on the summit; it’s there in the distance and I can see it a little more clearly every day.  But I have slowed my pace to a leisurely stroll as opposed to a run; a marathon rather than a sprint.

I have changed my header to reflect my current mood.  The quiet after the storm.  The sense of peace, and the dawning of a new day.

So what have I been up to for the last year or so?  Well,..


Some healthy eating..


Stuff around the house..


Chillaxing at the cottage..


Stuff around the garden.


More healthy eating..


Healthy wine.. 🙂


Working out with my sis.


A little work at the office.


Hiking in the Gatineau

Finding balance is key for maintaining peace of mind, and a healthy and energized Self.

Posted in Flow, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Mental Health, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Illusions of Fear


When I was about six years old, I began to have a recurrent nightmare about an alligator chasing me.   It was a simple, straight-forward dream and the theme was always the same.  I would run in absolute terror as fast as my little legs would take me, all the while hearing the beast’s jaws snapping just inches from my heels, knowing it was just about to get me.  I always managed to stay just ahead of it but my fear was intense and it lingered long after I awakened.

I had the nightmare regularly for several years.  Then, one night while having the dream something shifted.  I was running as usual, but this time there was anger attached to my terror.  I was finally becoming weary of all the running and the fear.  I’d had enough.  Although I was afraid, I suddenly stopped running and turned around to face my monster.  To my utter surprise, instead of seeing the dreaded giant alligator, I saw a ridiculously tiny, battered-looking, brown alligator about the size of a cat.  The alligator’s skin was dry and cracked and stiff-looking.  As I examined it more closely, I saw that there was an open seam on the side of the thing’s belly and that yellow stuffing was spilling out of its gut.  It wasn’t real.  It was nothing but an old stuffed alligator that had been sitting on my grandparent’s buffet for years.

My anger exploded when I realized I had been running in fear of a stuffed alligator.  I screamed at it “you’re nothing but a stuffed alligator; you’re not even real and I’m not afraid of you!!!”.    It just stood there looking at me with its sad little brown glass eyes, defeated, old and stiff.  I had finally broken through the illusion and seen the “beast” for what it truly was.  I never had that nightmare again.

We humans have the ability not only to store and retrieve memories, but also to use our minds to imagine future events.  But, according to two American psychologists – Timothy D. Wilson and Daniel T. Gilbert (Gilbert of Stumbling on Happiness fame), our ability to imagine the future is skewed.  It is an imperfect and biased system that tends to project current fears, anxieties and irrational thought onto future events, creating a bias that ignores the potential for evolving and changing circumstances and feelings.  We can plan future events and prepare for them in several practical ways, but our accurate emotional response to those future events remains out of conscious reach.  We simply cannot predict future feelings with any amount of precision.

In addition, according to the study, we mostly over-estimate the impact of an event on our emotions and feelings.  As a result, we fear making changes, and decisions become difficult if not impossible to make as we envision the dire consequences awaiting us down the road.  We imagine that a negative event will leave us miserable forever, that we will never overcome it, that we will suffer endlessly, and that we will be forever unhappy.  Wilson and Gilbert disagree, providing overwhelming evidence that proves otherwise.

There is little doubt that fear is the biggest barrier we face in moving ahead in life.  Having said that, there is a place for genuine fear; it alerts us and protects us from harm.  Although it is unlikely that any of us will be chased by alligators, if you happen to be taking a moonlit walk down by the bayou, or having a swim in the Florida Everglades, a healthy dose of rational fear might be in order!

It was many years before I realized there was a lesson in that dream of mine.  I was too young at the time to understand that fear is an illusion, mostly borne out of irrational thought.   That what we fear most is fear itself.  And that the only way to overcome it is to look at it squarely in the face and stare it down.

Posted in Happiness, Personal Growth, Psychology, Self-Actualization | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Getting to Know Thyself

thunder_and_lightning-3313The personalities and behaviours that we own today no doubt reflect an amalgamation of past experiences collected and stored long ago within our subconscious minds.   Freud believed that all of our behaviours were derived from unconscious motivations and that we in fact have little, if any, control over them.  Carl Jung had a somewhat similar personality theory with his Shadow Aspect and various archetypes.  Boiling it unceremoniously down to its most basic essence, Jung’s theory posited that the Shadow was a sort of subconscious holding tank for “unmade choices”, and all of the things we dislike/despise about ourselves which we have rejected for being unacceptable to us.   We are generally unaware of these traits until life stressors bring them to the forefront.

Having said that, according to Jung, we rarely see our own Shadow.  The Shadow mostly likes to project so what we hide behind our Shadow, we generally project onto others.  If we are highly self-aware, somewhat psychologically astute, and honest with ourselves, we may occasionally catch this projection.   When that happens we may be surprised, frightened, or even disgusted by what we see.   It takes a very open mind and much courage to accept that some of the traits we despise the most in others, are often reflections of parts of ourselves.  Becoming aware of these less-than-stellar aspects of ourselves and accepting and incorporating them into our definition of who we are helps us to gain some control over them.  We can only learn to control those things that we are consciously aware of.  Bringing our Shadow Aspect out of the dark and into the light is what will make us whole and authentic, and what Jung termed the process of individuation.

What Jung calls individuation, K. Dabrowski calls Positive Disintegration.  In a broad sense, these theories on personality development are all linked.  Freud would have you dropping your ego defences in order to seek truth and clarity, resulting in authenticity and growth.  Jung wants you to meet your Shadow and make friends, or at the very least, come to a compromise.  Carl Rogers submits that narrowing the gap between our ideal self and our real self will lead to greater self-esteem, self-acceptance, and authenticity.  In other words, seeking personal truth about our limitations and accepting who we truly are, warts and all, results in growth and a healthier state of mind.

My personal favourite, Dabrowski, would have you take a good, long, deep and honest look at yourself – including the good, the bad and the ugly – feel the pain of true self-knowledge, gain insight, strength and acceptance from it, and be on your way toward higher personality development.  It’s difficult to ignore the commonalities between these theories.  It seems in order to grow, we must find and make peace with our true selves.

A reader recently asked if I thought early childhood experiences might have played a role in my experiences with positive disintegration and self-development.  My journey towards self-knowledge and self-actualization through positive disintegration is not, to my conscious knowledge, a result of anything dark and sinister that might have happened in my childhood.  My childhood was relatively free of trauma.  I say relatively because I don’t believe you can get through childhood without experiencing at least some hardships growing up.  Our personalities are formed as a result of early experiences, traumatic or not, as well as by the environments that we grew up in.

No doubt certain aspects of my personality – high sensitivity, introversion, curiosity, a need to find answers – all played a role in my eventual search for “the truth” and a deeper understanding of myself and life in general.  Add to that a preoccupation with existentialism and two difficult experiences within the last six years and it seems I was destined to travel the road to the higher ground.   The most painful of the two experiences left me reeling on the brink of a dark abyss to which I had to either succumb or battle against.  Carl Rogers would be pleased to know I chose the latter.

Dabrowski was, and continues to be, an immense comfort to me.  When things get tough, when the truth is painful, when my fears threaten to overtake me, I am reminded that there is no growth without pain.  That every crisis holds opportunity for growth if we choose it.  And that, according to Dabrowski at least, it is healthy to experience anxiety, inner conflict, fear, and even despair, when these feelings serve as fuel to propel us forward in our journey toward personal development.

Posted in Authenticity, Humanistic Psychology, Personal Growth, Positive Disintegration, Psychology, Self-Actualization | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Fertile Confusion

The road to self-knowledge and personal growth leads to a myriad of discoveries, transformations, concepts, and new ideas.  It is inevitable that periods of confusion will ensue at some point or another along the way.  Confusion can be expressed as two or more conflicting forces leading to widely different or uncertain outcomes.  The confusion sets in when we are either unwilling or unable to make a decision, yet we resist falling back to old patterns.  We want nothing more than to move ahead in our journey, but we are unsure what direction to take.

Confusion is an uncomfortable state to be in.  Most of us generally like to know exactly where we are going in life and why.  We tend to prefer a clear view ahead, rather than a murky path to the unknown.  It’s human nature.  Unfortunately, the occasional state of confusion is an unavoidable situation when we pursue self-knowledge and personal growth.  As we deconstruct the old, we may at times find ourselves in a kind of limbo while we await reconstruction of the new.  And the new construct takes time as we carefully examine, rebuild and re-define the self.   There are no overnight road trips or 30-day programs to self-actualization.  There are no short cuts.  The journey is continuous, it’s life-long and it’s ever-changing.  And you will encounter dips in the road which will make it difficult for you to see the way ahead at times; clarity will dim.

Yet, while it’s true that confusion can cloud our minds and lead to inertia, it doesn’t have to be so.  If we are able to channel the tension that results from confusion in a positive rather than negative way, it can, and will, encourage creative thought.  We can use the discomfort to propel us toward new ways of thinking, encourage us to step outside our comfort zone and help us to seek out creative solutions.   It can become the fertile ground for deep examination, meaningful change, and real growth.

Absent any confusion we remain at a standstill; we may have convinced ourselves that we have all of the answers.  But in thinking we have all of the answers, we are not only deceiving ourselves, we are dampening the fires for potential and creative growth.  I would rather be confused, than be disillusioned in thinking I have all of the answers.

Keeping a calm and open mind during times of confusion will allow us to delve deeply for those answers.  When we look far towards the horizon, and gaze up towards the stars without fear or self-imposed boundaries, we can reach towards the infinite for the inspiration that awaits.

Photo Link : http://www.parkadvocate.org/tag/stargazing/

Posted in Personal Growth, Positive Disintegration, Psychology, Self-Actualization | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stealing From The Here And Now

The process of thinking, or intellection, has always been a significant source of enjoyment for me.

From almost as far back as I can remember, I have looked forward to uninterrupted chunks of time where I could simply go into my head and think.  Even as a young child, information from the day had to be processed, analyzed and digested before I could sleep.   Of course my thoughts, in keeping with my world, were less expansive when I was six.  Nonetheless, I spent a lot of time in my head, thinking, planning, daydreaming and imagining.

Fast forward to today, and my life-long thinking habit has become honed to exquisite perfection.  Sequestering myself in my bubble to think may appear to others as a huge waste of time.  I disagree.  Although it may look like there’s nothing going on from the outside, there is in fact a whirlwind of cognitive activity going on within the private confines of my inner landscape.  The rewards can be tangible.  Problems are identified and analyzed, turned upside down and sideways, and scrutinized from all possible angles until a solution is found.  Introspection guides the way toward newly gained self-knowledge.  And insight, always sudden and always enlightening, often comes to visit, illuminating the path ahead.

And there are creative benefits as well.  Writing assignments are conceived, laid-out, mentally written and scrutinized before fingers ever hit keyboard.  Poetry is often borne out of free-flowing thought, leaving only the task of transcribing from right-brain to paper.   Even paintings can be imagined, colours mixed, and final product envisioned long before reaching for a paint brush.  And a mind that takes the time to see can re-design an entire room and visualize it down to the smallest detail without ever touching a thing or being anywhere near the space.  Time spent thinking, planning and imagining at the front-end, very often pays off in time saved in the long-run.

I have no doubt that being the owner of an inward-focussed and introverted personality has influenced my life-long bent for copious mental activity.  And as I note above, I mostly think it’s a good thing.  Who wouldn’t want a rich and inviting inner landscape where anything is possible.  Where you can be entertained endlessly, imagine the unimaginable, visualize the unseen, and find answers lurking behind questions.  Where else can you escape the mundane and travel to places found nowhere in this world but within your own creative mind.  Reality pales in comparison.

And that’s the problem right there.

For those of us inclined to favour the inner landscape, there is a price to be paid.  For all its luster, appeal and conceptual magic, the things that transpire in our own minds remove us from the concrete reality of life.  Time spent strolling through our inner gardens, as beautiful as they may be, is time spent not living a life.  They are moments stolen away from the here and now.

The here and now, a concept that I have rarely consciously thought about in the past, has become more important to me of late.  I have come to a realization that when you are not paying attention to the things going on around you, time sprints forward, leaving you in its dust, lagging behind and wondering where it went.  People around you change, they grow older, they get sick, and you wonder how it happened.  How you never noticed.  You look around and wonder how its possible that the young trees you planted, not so long ago, have now grown tall and mature.  And when you ask yourself how long it has been since you have spoken to a certain loved one, you are shocked that so much time has slipped by unnoticed because you weren’t paying attention.

It’s easy to get seduced by a mind that offers up endless fascinations, that beckons us to enter and cajoles us into staying longer than we should.  And it’s a challenge to ignore the thinking mind that is endlessly vying for attention.  Yet, lest we find ourselves waking up one day wondering where time went, and indeed where our lives went, it seems to me that we had better be prepared to give some focussed attention to the things going on around us.

Right here and right now.

Posted in Existentialism, Introversion, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Letting Go Of The Anger

hide and seek1As I sit at my computer today, I am feeling a deep sense of bitterness, anger and disappointment.  With myself.  Not with my new-found self, but with the self that I owned in my earlier years.  My young adolescent self.

The young adolescent self who did so miserably in school, for no real logical reason.  The one who had the potential, but who chose not to make use of it.   I suppose I could make excuses for her.  I could say that she was shy and deeply introverted and unable to communicate her thoughts.  I could say that she struggled with a lack of self-esteem and confidence and that she was never encouraged or supported in her studies.  I could even say that she fell into the wrong crowd.   All true, but not good enough.

As I look through my old school transcripts I am overwhelmed with anger at that young girl who had so much potential, but chose to throw it away.  Hindsight can be excruciatingly painful.  We review our lives and see things that could so easily have been made different.  We see the choices we didn’t make that could have changed our entire life direction, but which we now have no power over.

Ironically, for most of my life, I have had an inescapable thirst for knowledge.  An all-encompassing need to know, to understand, to discover.  An unrelenting passion for learning that refuses to go away.  Perhaps I am trying to make up for my younger self’s lack of drive, her disinterest and her apathy.

Yet, despite the anger and disappointment I feel compelled to try to understand and to forgive.  I wish I could meet my young shy self today.  I would tell her that she is capable, and that she has worth.  I would give her all the support she needed and desired.  I would give her unconditional positive regard to build her self-esteem and confidence.  I would tell her that I knew she could do anything and be anything that she wanted.  And I would gently draw her out of her bubble and introduce her to the not-so-frightening world around her.

Personal growth is not only about accepting and loving the person we are, but also the person that we were.  And as difficult as it might be, letting go of the anger that we direct at ourselves is a necessary ingredient in loving all of the parts that make us who we are.  This is what will make us complete and what will help us grow and move forward in our life-long journey.

Posted in Introversion, Personal Growth, Psychology, Self-Esteem | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments


Authenticity in humans is no doubt one of the surest measurements of a healthy mental state.  One that has a pureness of clarity, able to distinguish the real from the delusive, striving always for the truth; accepting of reality, accepting of itself.  The healthy human psyche wears no disguise; does not hide behind rose-tinted glass; does not insulate itself from painful truths.  Or does it?

There are few things more complex than the human mind and when it comes to authenticity, the waters are fairly murky.

According to Freud’s psychodynamic model, the psyche is composed of three distinct components; superego, ego and id.  His well-established theory posits that the ego component sits smack dab in the middle between superego and id.   In control of the reality state, ego strives to keep the peace while satisfying, at least in part, both the needs of superego and those of id.  Id, with its intense need for immediate satisfaction of primal needs and superego, with its unrelenting, guilt-infusing reminder to always do the right thing.  The inescapable kill-joy that is superego is a necessary counter-balance to the immature and insatiable primal drives of id.

Holding fort on the reality state is no easy feat for ego.  At times, the conflict between id and superego can become so intense as to threaten the very existence of ego.  Tension and conflict mount as id refuses to compromise on its pleasure principle and superego’s righteous voice cannot be quelled.  When this occurs, ego must protect itself.  It does so by putting up various defences; ego defences.  Without such defences, the ego would lose all control of the reality state; disintegrating and imploding within itself.  Chaos would ensue, leading to disastrous consequences for the organism itself.

Protected by the ego defences, the organism is allowed to continue to function, but it does so at the cost of self-deception.   In the long run, the insulating cover of self-deception can lead to a weakening, or even a loss of the self; in the short run, it is an absolute necessity.   Most (but not all) defences are unconscious and the organism itself is unaware of their existence.  If we know what to look for, we can see these defences in others.  Rarely can we see them in ourselves.

What does this all mean in the context of personal growth and authenticity?  There is hope.  It is possible to become aware of the defences that we construct.  We can start to see the walls we put up through self-awareness, learning, catharsis, self-acceptance, self-honesty and a willingness to face our demons.  It isn’t an easy task to be sure.  We must consciously come face to face with those things that threaten us the most.  We must climb that tree, find the weakest branch and walk on it until it breaks.  Only then can we come to understand that we will survive facing even our greatest fears.  As the walls slowly fall away, clarity replaces the muted, protective veil on reality and authenticity replaces self-deception.

Self-deception has its place, but seeking authenticity through the removal of at least some of our defences will lead to a stronger grasp of reality, and in turn, a more realistic and defined sense of self.   True peace of mind can only come through genuine acceptance of what and who we are.

I recently read a great book called Hide and Seek; The Psychology of Self-Deception by Dr. Neel Burton.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a clear description of all of the ego-defences.  Fascinating stuff.

Photo Link : http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jKcNfu8QCmM/T1-EKuU2GSI/AAAAAAAAAVk/2TUcTktfS2I/s1600/your+beautiful+eyes.jpg

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Born This Way

We all come into the world already pre-stamped and coded by the genetic predispositions of our ancestors.  We are not given the choice between a), b) or c); it is decided for us.  Personality is only one of the many human genetic compositions that makes us who we are.  A predilection for quiet solitude, deep thought and introspection, and high sensitivity fueled by consistent cortisol arousal, (stress hormone) in the frontal lobes of humans, classically defines the introverted, inward-focussed personality.When genetics, and to some extent, environmental factors, decide for you how you are going to perceive your life experience, there is no fighting it.  At least not in any fulfilling, comfortable-in-your-skin kind of way.

We introverts, in particular those of us occupying the extreme end of the introversion continuum, were born with a temperament that is fairly different from the majority.  Depending on the study, 25 to 30 percent, with some studies showing as much as 50 percent of the population, falls somewhere within Jung‘s definition of introversion.   And given that the majority generally takes first dibs in society, our quiet temperaments have left us at a distinct disadvantage in the face of  extraversion idealization.  We have felt undervalued, set apart, judged and criticized.  No more.  We now know that introversion does not equal neurosis.  We now know that the introverts of the world are simply wired in such a way as to require more quiet time than most in order to nurture their gentle, introspective selves.  That we are simply biologically tuned to get our energy from within, rather than without.  That it is part of our personality; designed specifically for us through natural genetic engineering.

It’s time to go ahead and embrace your introversion.  There’s no reason to deny the real you. You are owed the right to be your authentic, thought-filled, wonderful, introverted self.

Because you were, simply put, born this way.

Posted in Authenticity, Extroversion and Introversion, Introversion, Personality Type, Psychology, Self-Concept | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Understanding the Introverted Personality

business,communications,discussions,metaphors,talking,occupational therapy,occupations,people

A dear friend recently sent me the link to a YouTube video that has received over a million hits to date.  I was fascinated by the clip and decided that I wanted to share it with those who are interested in learning about, and understanding, the personality trait of introversion.  I have done much research over the years regarding the introverted personality (the inward-focussed among us), but this is one of the most accurate and balanced descriptions I have yet to find.  “The Power of Introverts : Ep. 1” is based on Susan Cain’s recent book on the subject and is presented in a compelling, unique and highly artistic manner.  Assuming there is anyone left who hasn’t yet seen the clip, here it is 😉


Posted in Extroversion and Introversion, Introversion, Personality Type, Psychology, Self-Concept, Self-Esteem | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment