You Can’t Change Anyone But Yourself

Thinking we can change someone is never a good idea. Even as a psychotherapist, it’s not my approach. I help people to further their understanding of self and other, then we wait and yield to the effects of therapeutic human understanding. We never know how it’s going to turn out; we only know that truth facing is medicine for the soul.

So, it’s the same when I write books. Stories can be medicine for the soul. Esoteric fiction moves us into powerful psychic realities, dynamics that shift the way we see ourselves and others. Stories are their own form of truth facing – medicine for the soul.

I remember that while writing The Unholy, my depth psychotherapy practice was overrun by patients seeking healing from religious trauma. They had suffered physical, emotional and often sexual trauma within a religious context. It was within church-going homes, respected religious institutions, and mediations ashrams that trauma abounded. As they healed, they desperately wanted to make the perpetrators change; but so often the families and organizations refused to see the problem. Thus, there was no hope for changing those in denial; but my patients, through their own journey into self-understanding, healed and changed.

My writing shifted during this time away from inspirational psychology and into visionary fiction. Here I told stories of emotional and spiritual upheaval. Trauma laced its way through action-packed dramas of religion gone bad and one person’s determined struggle to battle dark forces within and without. Within the narrative, as in our daily life, things vacillated between hope and despair. The imagination takes us into realms of visions, dreams, and everyday magic in a way that inspirational psychology approaches but, for me, did not bring home.

Stories take us headlong into what we’re grappling with in our own lives. Unconsciously, we’re always drawn to read the story that will speak most to us at a given time. The writing of Goddess of the Wild Thing bolted out of me as patients moved into issues of what it means to find love. It doesn’t go the same way for everybody. You can’t pin it down. Love is a wild goddess. The image of the wild goddess came to me in a dream one night. It was to be the title for this particular book that depicts an age-old struggle about love—whether bad love is better than no love— and the discovery that love is a wild thing.

So when it comes to changing someone, don’t do it. It’s the message of lives nearly lost and then regained. We can lose ourselves by giving more and more to someone who does not see or want to see that there is a problem. Whether in religion, love, or day-to-day work and relationships it’s the getting on with things as they are that matters. Of course, that doesn’t imply sticking with what’s bad or dysfunctional. There are mean and malignant people. They are the ones who, in small ways or big strikes, undermine our sense of worth and integrity. Actually, they seem to get a kick out of it. Oh, they might say they’re sorry, but they’ll come around and do it again. There’s a payoff for them in the form of power and control. We need to shake loose of them and move on.

In story writing, it’s utterly fascinating to experience the characters speaking to me, the writer, of their plight. Maybe (they wonder) they made up the bad thing that happened. Maybe they blew it out of proportion. Maybe, maybe, maybe. So many maybes signal upside down thinking and one unhappy soul setting themselves up for another you-know-what.

So, when we read we can go through things on the page that helps us with everyday things. That way we’re less likely to set ourselves up for another you-know-what situation. We can avoid unnecessary life pain and trauma through an understanding of self and others. Reading opens up soul paths for change because, after all, you can’t change anyone but yourself.

#visionaryfiction #depthpsychology #soulmedicine #change

Falling in Love with Soul

Ahhh…to fall deeply in love with soul—not many have considered it. So few have discovered it. It remains a central need for us. We so easily become soulless, lose soul. There’s tiredness that won’t go away. There’s a vague sense of unhappiness lurking like a shadow. There’s that quality to life that it’s not wholly satisfying. These are symptoms of soul loss.

I’m preparing for vacation with Kate. We’re off to a secret place of new sites, smells, tastes, time together. We dwell on the past year, what’s new that we’re seeing in the places we visit. It’s a time of reflection, absorbing, and experiencing. Most of all, it’s a time of being together.

Doing depth psychotherapy and writing every day is consuming. Your work-a-day life is consuming. Life takes a lot. And, life can give a lot. But, soul is required. If we’re moving too fast, having lost enjoyment because of the speed at which we live, then there’s soul loss. We’ve fallen out of love with soul.

When I write, and when I do psychotherapy, I love what I do. When I prepare for vacation, I love the anticipation and the getting there. And, once I’m in the doing of what I’m doing, there can be utter joy. That is soul. That is falling in love with soul and a soulful life.

The visionary fiction I write dramatizes soul. There are people who’ve lost it or come close to losing it. They feel crazy or on the verge of crazy. When we get to the edge of sanity, we teeter and totter. Oh, it’s a very scary time. Sometimes the teetering goes on and on. We feel ill inside, lost and empty. Physical sickness strikes. Mental anguish bears down and won’t let up. The characters in my stories struggle with what it means to be a woman or a man living with pain from the past and abusive people in the present. What do you do? You can’t run from the past forever. You can’t pretend the toxic people in your life now aren’t as bad as they seem. They are. And the truth of what they are and how you play into what they do has to be faced. This is a visionary story—intense, loaded with choices that make the difference between soul and soullessness.

I do therapy and write and live from what I know and have gone through. If I didn’t my patients and readers would feel it. Instead, I’ve been told that what I’ve offered makes sense and helps hurting souls. I’m glad for that. The past week doing therapy has been tough, and I’ve given it my all. The past year nurturing two books in visionary fiction with another on the way has been hard work. I’ve given everything workwise my all. Even more importantly, I’ve given my personal life my all. At least, I believe and hope that I have. There’s been a lot of going through rough times and coming out the other end mentally and spiritually more clear and with sharpened consciousness. Doing therapy and doing writing, living as authentically as I can in my marriage and with my family, has been my priority.

Take some time this summer to make falling in love with soul your priority. You and I can do it by slowing our roll and taking in the joy of being with those we love. We can do it by slowing our roll and reading what nourishes us. Read with deliberation, care, letting the words and meaning of the story settle in like a good meal. On vacation, I like to slow our roll, not move fast and furious. I’m taking a beautiful visionary book, Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. It’s a classic in the genre of magical realism. Acclaimed as a masterpiece of the surreal, it’s a story of one man’s quest for heritage and soul. Tormented spirits share secrets from the past.

I’m going to take my time with this read. I’m going to take my time with my wife, Kate, the sites we see, the moments lingering together. Falling in love with soul, for me, always means falling in love all over again with so much. What is right before me and with me every day comes once again to light. I realize how scary it is to lose sight of life and soul by living so fast and in such a demanding way. So, let’s take time together, live a little slower, read a little slower, and fall in love with soul.

Top 10 Tips for Writers

Top Ten Ideas List for Writers with Books on Fire Tours pops out some inspiration for those in the literary craft. When writers hit a wall, there’s hope. Here’s a few of the insights that work for me. Give them a try and see what speaks to you.

  1. Really evil characters make the world a better place!
  2. Really evil characters teach us mind numbing, transformative lessons!
  3. Really evil characters lay the groundwork for what’s good around the corner!
  4. When the good characters meet up with the bad ones, their light shine bright!
  5. Really good characters have flaws that make them stronger if they let them!
  6. Really good characters exist in life, story, and always take you by surprise!
  7. Bad and good keep life going and us growing!
  8. Good and bad are the yin and yang of effective story telling!
  9. Don’t stay good, don’t stay bad, stay both and you got a thriller!
  10. Once you’re done with the book, you’re done, and that’s fantastic!