I am back in Costa Rica for the winter, a place I came to for refuge twelve years ago. I had had a mental breakdown, got divorced, had to leave the work I loved (but was killing me), took an early retirement. I sought a place of peace, not to put my life back together again because that part of me was dead, but to find the courage and resources to start over again. It has been a long journey with a lot of traumatic ups and downs, but this time in Costa Rica, I know I have arrived.
Self-regulating processes and mindsets are a result of leaning on the parent for attunement and guidance during infancy. This results in a resonance of states of mind by which the parent guides the infant into understanding and regulating their own emotions. As the child advances into early childhood, the reliance on the parent gets replaced by self-regulation with guidance on the side from the parent as needed. For the lucky ones who come through childhood with healthy mental processes, the mind is free to battle through negative emotion, create goals, and pursue them with focus and purpose. The healthy mind can think, act, and evaluate thus modifying mindsets to solve new problems and storing the new strategies in memory to solve similar problems in the future.
But what happens when the parent is abusive or negligent? I was born into a single parent family with nine children and a mother who did not have the resources to help me regulate my emotional needs. I grew up lost and neglected. Because of my childhood, I had no means to resolve the feelings associated with my emotions, so I suppressed them except for an underlying feeling of shame and self-loathing. Due to the power of a very skilled and creative mind, I managed to survive for fifty years until I was overwhelmed by the negative energy in my life. When I crashed, I was diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder with a sexual addiction related to my suppressed gay side, a clinical depression, and an acute anxiety disorder. I was a mess. Eighteen weeks of intensive therapy at a psych outpatients hospital clinic along with medication gave me renewed energy and a few new coping mindsets. However, it did not solve the problems that were buried in my implicit memories. The shame and self-loathing continued.
The emotionally damaged child continues to face emotions the only way that it knows how, by denial or repression. It is then unable to use the energy from primary emotions to find new ways to resolve the problems it is facing. Again, the old patterns are reinforced and the child believes that negative problems filled with negative emotion cannot be solved. When faced with negative energy, it can only react through fight (anger), flight (fear) or freeze (withdrawal) because it has not learned to involve the left brain rational processes to solve the right brain feeling problem.
The only way out of these dips and dives is to seek a high level of arousal through pleasures such as food, sex, or chemical highs from drugs including our old friends alcohol and marijuana. For a wounded mind, this will inevitably result in addiction or lead to mood disorders like depression with dysfunction in perceptions, memory, beliefs and behaviors. On the other side of the equation, it may result in chronic anxiety with excessive sensitivity to the environment with ever present signals of impending disaster. This person may seek someone to defer control and responsibility and enter a dependency relationship. Again, this is usually a one way street and the significant other tires of the great need for love and acceptance and leaves, thus reinforcing the feelings of isolation and self-loathing. On occasion, he or she may enter a co-dependency relationship which seems to work until both partners are depleted of their energy producing resources.
The common solution is psychotherapy. A skillful therapist provides the external system of processing or restraint for the person who lacks positive sets of self regulating processes. Sounds good but it is far from fool proof. We all go through stages that seem to be cyclical. In other words, our ability to cope will fluctuate. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, the depression or anxiety will reoccur. If we were children we could run to mama or papa for a hug and all would be well again. But as adults we run to our therapist thus creating another cycle of dependency. Medication provides some relief in restoring chemical balance, but it does not lead to a new set of mindsets where we seek purpose and joy. It simply dulls the pain for awhile and it too can lead to chemical or psychological addiction.
After indulging in these dark and dreary mindsets, I think it is time we look at real solutions. Twelve years ago in a mountain cabina in Costa Rica, I found the way to soothe my mind without therapy or medication. To do that, I had to go beyond the cognitive strategies of my brain and learn to soothe the emotion and right brain processing centers of my mind. Because my mind was still dysfunctional, and because I had no one to run to for attunement and soothing, I had to step outside my mind and seek attunement with the self within my self; the self that was always there ready to listen and hug the child within. When confronted with a negative thought, energy, or feeling, I simply stilled the mind and traced the feeling back to its nonverbal source. I waited there with this feeling until I began to sense a soothing from within. I eventually found a presence there. I let the feeling of my ego flow into this presence thus forming an attunement of my wounded ego with my higher self. I experienced an infinite source of positive energy. I just let it flow. No thinking. I did not restructure my mind sets with thought but infused them with this positive feeling of well being. I could sense it flooding through my neural pathways connecting the spiritual self with the physical self through the pleasure center of my brain.
This is the one and only lesson that I want to impart through these blogs. Whenever we feel the old feelings return, we can address them immediately before they take root. We can experience a high that results from the flow of our own brain and body chemistry. That’s what the prescription and hard drugs do, but we can get those same feelings without the addiction and side affects. We simply flood our whole minds with this beautiful flow of positive energy until the old negative feeling disintegrates and is replaced with the new. Then, while are brains are clear and overflowing with positive energy, we instruct our minds to seek a solution to the problem at hand. All of a sudden, the solutions with be clear and ridiculously manageable. We will automatically know when and how to pursue or when to walk away without guilt or shame.
If feels good to be back in Costa Rica, much better than the first time. I now live a life of gratitude for my wife of three years, my present flow of abundance, and yes, even for the dark days that brought me here. I have learned to control all the negative energy that comes from negative emotions, and in fact, I have learned to find the positive in, and be thankful for, every negative event that occurs in my life.There is no self-loathing, there is only peace, beauty and the power to live a life that I can love.
My five applications to bisexuality:
1. Our sexual impulses are not a mental illness, a dysfunction, or even a faulty thinking pattern. There should be no negative energy associated with our sexuality. We can turn these negative thoughts over to our higher self. We will find no judgment there.
2. We can enter a state of meditation and go back into past negative experiences and recognize the positive gift associated with these experiences. We can then experience a feeling of gratitude and bless the people involved.
3. If we have feelings related to neglect and abuse, even to trauma, we do not have to feel gratitude for the actual experience, but we can feel gratitude for the support of our higher self which has allowed us to survive these experiences. We can ask our higher self to reveal the lessons we have learned. Once we get beyond the hurt and pain we can begin to see that we are more than just survivors. We are now more powerful people because of our experiences.
4. We do not stay there locked in the past. We acknowledge the powers that helped us survive and we move on. After this healing process, when triggers bring back the old feeling, we thank the ego for its diligence, and acknowledge that we are now superior to those events, feelings, and the people who caused them, and move on.
5. We learn to live and enjoy. We design the life we want to live and use the power of our beautiful minds to make it happen.