Thursday, January 18, 2018

Morning Reflection: The Error in My Expectations

As I ponder my relationship with others around me, I realize that I tend to have expectations of people that are often not met. This is often a cause of sadness for me, and in going deeper I am reaching the conclusion that my expectations are often irrational, self serving and based solely on my unfulfilled needs.

Worst of all, my expectations are often a form of transactional living, where I am placing a requirement on someone else to do something or act in a way which they have not implicitly agreed, oftentimes which they don’t even know about it.

Expecting others to act a certain way in order to fill the gaps in my soul in effect reduces them in my mind to an object, someone who needs to act in a certain way in order for me to feel a certain thing. This in turn places a burden upon them, which they do not deserve.

I realize that in living this way, I am not honoring them as a person who has their own divine spark, their own consciousness, and the freedom to live as they want. Expecting someone to provide support for one of my essential human needs, without them having agreed to do so, is to devalue the relationship that I could have with them.

Perhaps in all of my judging, I can find a space in my soul to truly examine why I have these expectations. If I am truly trying to serve someone else, and give without expecting, then I should be grateful for their presence in my life however they choose to participate in my ongoing experience.

Expectations are antithetical to gratitude. Expectations destroy my peace in what is, forever reaching for that which is not and may never be.

If I am honest with myself, my expectation for them is often a manifestation of a need that I have not yet balanced within my soul. My responsibility is to do that in a way that respects others, not reduces them.

And that is not easy.
Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Morning Reflection: Feeling Powerless

You only fear that over which you have no power.

My oldest son nearly died on his very first day of life. A few hours after I was blessed to help deliver him, a congenital heart defect was trying to kill him.

And there was nothing I could do.

I realized today that I have never overcome that feeling of being powerless.

To this day, I am still haunted by the realization that I could do nothing to help my son. I was at the mercy of others, dependent on someone else to do that which I could not.

I was nearly moved to tears today at the realization that what I fear most is being powerless. Unable to stand against that which assails me, unable to move in the face of an onslaught.

Powerlessness is my fear, the ghost which haunts my peace and troubles my soul in the quiet moments.

Yet in the end, we all face things against which we have no power. It is one of the similarities of the human condition, a reality that should unite us, even though often our fear will divide us.

For some it’s change, for some it’s the loss of something, for others, it’s the knowledge of their own weakness. Although our situations may differ, our experiences of feeling powerless are essentially the same.

In that moment, when we are faced with something we fear, it is important that we don’t stand alone. For while our souls may be separate, our fears and troubles can be a source of unity, strength, courage and conviction.

My hope is that I will be better at reaching out, lifting and helping others. As I struggle with my purpose, I desire to help others. Not for some eternal reward, and not for the praise of men, but simply because I desire to reduce the suffering that is present in the human condition.

Life is often cruel, but we must not be.

From the truth of the man I aspire to be… “Never cruel nor cowardly. Never give up, never give in”.


Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Morning Reflection: The Caustic Effects of Childhood Criticism

As I continue to deconstruct my demons, I have become more aware of my critical self talk. Often this is subconscious, barely noticed, at the periphery of awareness. Only by listening carefully and analyzing constantly have I been able to come to understand the deeper layers of my thoughts.

There is a saying that essentially says “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”. Learning to listen objectively to my inner voice has enabled me to change behaviors that have been lifelong habits, but also question where these voices came from. I have become aware that many of these inner voices are in fact a conglomeration of various criticisms that were leveled at me as a child.

Children are unable to objectively reason through caustic, unnecessary criticism and see into the truth of a flawed, human parent trying their best but failing at that time. Children internalize cruelty at an emotional level, and its caustic effects can last a lifetime.

If we really want to change the world, we need to start with the hearts of our children, and this starts by treating them better. If we sow kindness, we can reap compassion; if we sow patience, we can reap wisdom; and if we sow values, we will eventually reap nobility of the soul.

The way we treat our children is the vibration we give to the world.

And that is a humbling responsibility.
Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, January 15, 2018

Morning Reflection: Who do you blame?

Who do you blame?

As I journey through the paradox of my heart, mind and soul I encounter both helpful and harmful behaviors, those which uplift and those which demean.

Recently I have become aware of my tendency to want to assign blame and I have realized that often times my compassion is found wanting as I turn again and again to reactive blaming.

The truth is that blame is rarely a mature response to a situation. Blame does not soften the heart or console with compassion the accused, but instead it relieves us of our own responsibility and allows us to escape ownership.

Mostly, blame is just another way to satisfy my ego. If it’s somebody else’s fault, then I am protecting myself. Too often I find myself wrapping my soul in the judgment of others to escape an assessment of myself.

The biggest problem with blame is that it stops you looking beyond where the blame stops. Who is to blame for all of the troubles in my life? Is it my father, is it his father, is it Hitler who started a war which took my grandfather away from my father and destroyed their relationship, leaving my father emotionally unable to have a relationship with me. Where does the blame end? Where does the fault begin? This is a rabbit hole I have wasted far too much time going down, because there is no end, and no benefit to it.

I feel that in order to rid myself of blaming others, I must act with greater compassion for myself as well as others. Only when I extend compassion to myself will I end my addiction of self judgment and self protection, and in doing so find compassion for others.

Blame is not empowering emotion. It stifles the soul, hardens the heart and enlarges the ego. If blame is left unchecked, compassion finds no place to grow in our heart and we lose the chance to be connected to ourselves and to others.

So in order to stop blaming, and find compassion for others, I have to extend compassion to myself.

And that is a much more difficult proposition than I realized.
Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, January 12, 2018

Morning Reflection: Into the Unknown

Into the unknown.

Life is a very strange experience. The older I become, the less I understand the directions my life moves in. For someone who is addicted to certainty, that is a frustrating reality to inhabit.

More and more I find myself moving into a role for which I find myself strangely equipped, but emotionally less than sure of. It feels like Life has taken a hold of me, and is moving me through waters of its own choosing.

Change is my only constant, and I am learning, slowly, to make peace with that. It starts by letting go of the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and constructs that I have used to ‘hold back the tide’ of change.

Instead, I am learning to surrender to the flow of the water, and just try my best in each circumstance that I find myself in. Trust has always been my weak point, and that weakness is being tested daily, hourly.

I have been richly blessed over this last week to be in situations where this new direction has allowed me to use my gifts to help others. I cannot express in words the deep resounding calm that I feel as I have been privileged to help people through their challenges.

I feel like I am beginning to move into my purpose, a feeling I have not felt in a very long time.

But I have no idea where this is leading me. The future remains unclear, with a myriad of potential outcomes unfolding in front of me.

I am scared, I am hopeful, I am confused.

But I am moving onwards.
Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, January 8, 2018

Morning Reflection: Listening

“Silence cannot be misquoted, but it can be misinterpreted”.

As I grow through life, I have tried to learn to speak less and listen more. What greater respect can I pay other people than to truly listen to what they have to say, and try to learn from them?

Listening involves letting go of what I want to say, my desires for the conversation, and actually giving the other person time to pause, reflect and continue.

I have tried to stop myself from interrupting, talking over others, and also ‘rapidly answering’, where it is obvious that I have spoken before I have fully understood what has been spoken to me.

I have found that it is harder to do than I would have thought, but in doing so I have learned a greater control over interactions with people.

I have time in a conversation now, to allow compassion to have greater sway over condemnation, to allow humility to modulate that which could be perceived as hurtful, and to allow reflection to stop what could otherwise be resentment.

There is much to learn in listening, and I have tried to take to heart a quote attributed to the Buddha, “speak only if your words are more beautiful than the silence”.

Yet it occurs to me that my silence can be misinterpreted. A recent period of silence in a relationship that is dear to my heart was probably misinterpreted by the other party as something quite different.

My silence was deliberate, but only so that I could make sure that when I spoke, my words would be carefully chosen, and kind rather than callous. But I believe that my silence was taken quite differently, and at this point I fear that I must allow time to heal a wound that was self-assumed by the receiver in my period of silence, but which hurts nonetheless.

In this I also learned, that often when we misinterpret silence on the part of another, we do so in a way that is selfish, choosing the interpretation that best fits our own ego driven needs. In my interpretation of silence on the part of another, how often do I allow for the possible interpretation that places them in a better light?

As I try to move towards being a kinder person, I realize that the first, only and last barrier to kindness is that within my soul which I have not yet made peace with.

In speaking less, I hope to not only learn from others, but ultimately, to learn and better myself.

Today I will trust in silence, and move towards kindness.

And continue listening.
Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, January 5, 2018

Morning Reflection: Ocean of Stillness

An ocean of stillness, despite the storms around me.

Growing up in a coastal town in England, a love of the ocean has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

For me, the ocean is spiritual. The raw power, majesty and timelessness gives me a sense of perspective that nothing else brings.

For the ocean is an ocean, regardless of anything else. Yes the moon may pull it, but it still beats its way relentlessly to the shore. Patient, the ocean works tirelessly, at its own pace. Its song is the heartbeat of the world, calming, soothing and reassuring.

The ocean teaches me that persistence is a key part of life. While I am pulled, buffeted, lifted and dropped by the ravages of time, life and the incessant trials of humanity, the ocean bids me to remain calm, to stay my course, to succeed.

The ocean teaches me respect, in that it holds the secrets of life, but can be underestimated in its power and destructive capacities.

The ocean teaches me stillness in the face of storms, persistence in the presence of time, and the never to be forgotten truth that life is fragile, temporary and worthy of respect.

When I need to be grounded, balanced and restored I allow my mind to drift to the ocean.

And I am renewed.

Dr. Alan Barnes