Where do actions resulting from repressed feelings come from?

Emotional Honesty

If we find ourselves experiencing strong emotions, they likely come from a deep place inside that we rarely examine. Psychology defines this place as the subconscious. Trauma from the past that has been buried in the subconscious, and thereby unacknowledged, seeps out of these confines effecting attitudes and behaviors that are on full display.

Our rational selves attempt to make sense out of what others see and tell us are irrational. In the face of what we feel is criticism, we blame, excuse, justify, rationalize, or argue that our behavior is a result of events or circumstances that caused the outburst. This outward focus is not only inaccurate but keeps us from looking at the internal cause where answers and healing can begin.

For example, when we express anger to a degree that seems out of context for the situation, it is helpful to ask; “where does this anger come from?”. To answer this question, we will dig deeply into our past and find an unhealed emotional wound. The following illustration is from page 15 of my book, A Process, describing how we unravel old perceptions:

“Behind every anger there is a fear
Behind every fear there is a hurt
Behind every hurt there is an unmet need
Behind every unmet need there is a vulnerable child”

Finding the truth behind our behavior can be painful, yet the search is immeasurably important to gain maturity and come to understand the filter through which you perceive life. Change cannot happen until the truth is known and accepted. Just like an infection will eventually cause irreparable harm if not treated, an emotional wound will not heal until it is broken open, cleaned out, treated and protected through the regeneration process. This emotional healing is what my book is all about.


Is there an example of a time when you found yourself reevaluating your reaction to a situation? What do you think was the truth behind that reaction?

For more information on self-examination go to our web-site: reinventionenterprises.com or acquire the book at reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/

Life Lessons – Confusion

Confusion in one’s life is the result of:
incomplete information,
unrealistic expectations and
erroneous core beliefs.

I had finished graduate school with a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning. After five years working in the corporate world, I started my own consulting practice specializing in marketing for merchant builders in the real estate industry. My decision to forgo a pay-check and hang-out my shingle as an independent consultant involved many underlying core beliefs and hidden emotional forces I did not understand until years after I cut all my ties with a stable professional career. What I want to convey here is what I now understand as the motives for my choices and the consequences I experienced as a result of my lack of emotional self-awareness.

At the time I went out on my own I have been married for five years, had two children, bought a house and felt I was ready to show off my unique abilities and insights. Flying without a net was exhilarating. There was a great sense of determination as I broke from the establishment with no fear of failure or vulnerably. I paid no heed to the anxiety of my wife and fully expected her complete support. Little more then 3 years after I started my business, the wheels came off the wagon in my personal life and I was in utter chaos yet still I completely unwilling to reassess my approach. Why didn’t I see what was surely clear to others? Didn’t I comprehend the wreckage in my wake or the personal costs caused by my dogged determination?

They say, “Ignorance is bliss”, but I am more likely to say, “Ignorance is hell”.

The incomplete information I suffered from is more aptly expressed as ignoring information. It wasn’t that I was unaware of the interest sensitive nature of the real estate industry or that being highly leveraged was the name of the game. It wasn’t that I lacked working knowledge of the planning and execution of real estate development or the financing mechanics. It was that I was naive. I only looked at the potential up-side of my decision and ignored the potential down-side. Without a comprehensive view, I had no contingency plan, I had no idea of how and when to move to a defensive position.

Unrealistic expectations mostly involved my view of myself, my abilities and my destiny and is likely the reason I only looked at the up-side of my decision. I was over confident in my ability, I put my faith in my fantasy which translated into the belief that I was too smart to make but only a few bad decisions. Creative thinking was my strength, problem solving was my forte. I accepted the opposite of Murphy’s ‘Rule, “Nothing would go wrong because nothing could go wrong.”

The first two factors are the result of my mind justifying what my emotions wanted all along. My erroneous core beliefs included attempting to plow through several deep-seated feelings of low self-worth or negative self-image, which is to say, I was driven by my desire for success while my mind cleared the clutter out of the way so that my actions appeared to be well reasoned. The core beliefs are too numerous to lay out here, but sufficient to say, I had a need to be a lone-wolf for what I believed was self-protection, a sense that I would not receive recognition or justice in a group setting, that I would be too vulnerable to political tides and “group-think.” The disgust I felt about being used by others was a reflection of the fear of being ordinary or that being unimportant would be realized.

Yet the benefit of operating on such a weak foundation is that the resulting consequences may have been the only thing that could have changed my trajectory and therefore changed the second half of my life. The debilitating confusion resulting from foundational mistakes, the trauma of financial insecurity, the terror of nowhere to turn, the inability to ask for help; these are the horrors of life lived in the grip of a living nightmare. Had I not had acquired the gift of honesty to recognize and accept that I had done this to myself I would not have changed. With no excuses or defenses, I took full responsibility for my actions, looked squarely at my flaws and went about making the change that ushered a life of connectedness and gratitude.

All this said, I did experience a degree of success in the midst of my confusion which is evidence that there was some truth in my self-perceptions along with the dysfunction. Self-will can go a long way to achieving what we like to call success. An arrogant domineering attitude can accomplish grandiose projects that stand as testaments to an indominable spirit. Regardless of my accomplishments however, the elements of my life that were lacking were a sense of self-worth, a feeling of connectedness or an ability to experience joy. I took because I felt there was not enough and gave nothing because I felt I deserved more. Others were a means to an end, leaving me empty and mostly alone.

Neither you nor I should fail to follow our dreams and set goals that stretch the bounds of personal achievement. My hope for you is that your pursuits materialize but that they are they are done with solid planning, realistic expectations and a sense of humanity. Confusion is a part of life and uncertainty will always be present, but being connected, being present, being generous brings a quiet strength that sustains us at every crossroad.

For more information about developing a new approach to living go to reinventionenterprises.com or the acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/

Life Lessons – There is Only Reality

There are no rights or wrongs, there is only reality.

Stage 2 in my book, beginning on page 13, is based on an idea we rarely consider: “Recognizing Perceptions vs Reality.” Most of the time we live in one reality that sees things consistent with the way we want them to be. All the while a second reality exists where we experience things that we judge as being outside of how we want them to be. We face this dilemma with disorientation or anger as we work feverishly, attempting to reestablish things the way we think they should be.

The argument could be made that we are confronted with this type of situation daily in many small ways that keeps us in a state of irritation. For example, people driving in a way we dislike, someone’s work habits that are different than our own, waiting a little longer than normal for a restaurant server to bring our order. We likely act as if we were justified in our discomfort and voice our concern with indignance.

Other, more consequential examples represent hotly debated issues causing people to become highly exercised while the facts of the ground are clear for all to see. For example, family structure is different then it was in the past and is continuing to change whether we like it or not. As chronicled in a recent series of articles in a special edition of Time Books in 2018, family structure has changed dramatically since the 1945 and is continuing to change in many unforeseen ways. Why would anyone argue against this change in social mores when they are clearly not capable of imposing the remedy they would want to see? If there are detrimental consequences to this evolving social structure they will soon become apparent and a natural adjustment will take place on its own and will be in line with what we would like to see or not. In other words, why argue that something is right or wrong when reality is and always will be unmistakably evident.

This illustration calls attention to the discomfort we cause ourselves when we refuse to let go of some preconceived notion of the way things should be. If we approach a subject with the idea that we have the right, therefore the only, answer, then we setup a lose / lose scenario where we can never win nor will we allow another point of view to win all the time ignoring a healthy diversity in thought and experience.

In the words of Steven R. Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he offers the solution to seeing things only from a ridged perspective. The fifth habit is “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.” In the section of this chapter titled “Empathetic Listening”, on page 251 he states:

“Seek first to understand involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives. …

Empathetic listening is risky. It takes a great deal of internal security to go into a deep listening experience because you open yourself up to be influenced. You become vulnerable. It’s a paradox, in a sense, because in order to have influence, you have to be influenced. That means you have to really understand.”

See the Steven Covey web site at: https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits.html

Self-honesty about our strongly held reality, even as it relates to our bedrock principles, is necessary to achieve a true connection with life as it is. I use the following language in the first paragraph of Stage 2 in the book to make this point:

“We interpret everything that happens directly or indirectly through the lens of what we believe to be true. Our belief system is reinforced by what we see as evidence that our perceived truth is in fact true. This circular logic leaves us impervious to change.”

When we are willing to set aside our own point of view for a moment to carefully consider another’s point of view or to attempt to understand why things are the way they are, we become open instead of closed. Open does not mean “wishy-washy.” Acceptance that a reality beyond our frame of reference exists does not mean that we condone it or we are wrong for feeling the approach we espouse could have better outcomes. Neither does it mean that we need to keep stay quiet with our opinions. However, it does suggest that by applying humility, willingness, inclusiveness we can discuss our point of view within the context of another’s understanding of the issues. We can make our case with conviction but not as an absolute or as an ultimatum. These are the elements of maturity and the substance of disconnectedness.

For more information about developing a new approach to living go to reinventionenterprises.com or the acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/

Coping Mechanisms

Learned Responses Based on Core Beliefs

The term “coping mechanisms” refers to our way of responding to the things that happen, both trivial and consequential on a day-to-day basis. Our reaction to events tend to be spontaneous and immediate which we usually interpret as our natural state. They come from a place of deeply held sense about what our place or role is in the situation. And, if articulated, these responses would express our convictions about what is right and proper. Because they are rarely reviewed and questioned, our responses define our underlying values in ways we are not aware of.

Where do coping mechanisms come from? If this question can be answered, there is hope that we can modify responses and achieve better outcomes. In Stages 1 and 2 of my book we are asked to review our history, the place our coping mechanisms were developed, and begin to have a better understanding of ourselves. The following three thoughts are suggested as a way to break down our internal complexities and gain insight into how we see our place and the roles we play. These three aspects are interconnected and operate simultaneously starting at a very young age.

Frist, we come to recognize a set of values that are imposed on us. These include; what actions are beneficial or detrimental, helpful or unhelpful, effective or ineffective, acceptable or unacceptable, productive or unproductive. The messages that define how we are to see the world are both subtle and dramatic and provide structure. These messages come from parents, teachers, peer groups and other authority figures. And the experiences we have within our environment continually reinforce an understanding of how the world works and what we can expect in any given situation. We adopt these values as rules to live by and are tied to them as if they were our emotional DNA.

The second element of developing coping mechanisms comes from the way we internalize, (how we see ourselves in comparison to), these values. For example, if high educational achievement is a value, we judge ourselves as either smart of dumb as students. If exemplary behavior is a value, we judge ourselves as either a good or bad person. If being respected by society is a value, we judge our character as either worthy or unworthy of respect. We make these internal assessments for a myriad of characteristics based on how others seem to react to our level of performance regarding these values. Slowly we develop a “self-image” of ourselves that is carried at a deep subconscious level where it is rarely challenged.

Finally, the third element is the overt actions that results from these values and comparisons. These are the coping mechanisms or reactive responses that are consistent with how we have internalized our ability to perform. If we see ourselves as a dumb person, we make little effort to work hard in school with the coping mechanism of being inattentive or disruptive. Alternatively, if we feel we are bright and intelligent, we revel in the praise and status of good grades. If we feel unworthy, our low self-esteem leads us to cope by being socially withdrawn. On the other hand, if we carry a view of ourselves as having a positive character, we gravitate to publicly visible positions as a leader or person of influence.

The examples provided here are admittedly over simplistic and do not account for the vast number of variations that coping mechanisms can take in real life situations. Any one characteristic exists on a continuum from very low to very high intensity. A person’s negative vs positive perspective may vary from melancholy on one end of the spectrum to ecstatic on the other end. And at the same time, coping mechanisms morph into unique variations when one is experiencing any number of other self-images such as, the ability to express oneself, the sense of being heard, the degree to which one will be misunderstood, or an underlying level of trust. When multiple factors are overlaid one on the other, is it any wonder that we are at a loss to explain our reactions?

My book outlines a process to recognize our coping mechanisms through taking responsibility for our actions and our behavior. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to start by trying to change a set of self-images in order to change behavioral reactions. It is far easier to change reactions to life situations and allow the feedback we receive from those around us to slowly modify what we think of ourselves. In the wise words of those who have experienced transformation:

We don’t think ourselves into a new way of acting rather we act ourselves into a new way thinking.

For more information of the process of change go to reinventionenterprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/.

Values – Vision and Direction

What Makes the Difference?

What is the difference between a positive and a negative person? What is the difference between a motivated and a passive person? What is the difference between an influential person and one who follows the crowd? These are the questions that we seek to answer in our quest for “success” in our lives. Still, many of us are resigned to feeling our characteristics are somehow locked in place, inevitable and unchangeable.

So much of the popular self-help literature attempts to dispel the view of the inevitability of our behavior and promote change as simply a matter of surface characteristics. If you have tried some of the techniques suggested as methods to change attitudes; self-affirmation, visualization, self-talk and other motivational exercises, you may have become discouraged with failed attempts or short-lived benefits. The danger is that unsatisfactory results are often used to justify the belief that nothing can be done and revert to self-destructive defeatism.

Techniques of self-motivation are, unquestionably, important to maintain a high level of performance, but applying such technique must follow after the more fundamental work is completed. Values are the foundation of personal expression, the well-spring of motivational energy, the strength to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. Although difficult to develop, if values are carefully thought-out, clearly articulated, and diligently pursued, then our vision and direction is clear even if circumstances are confusing. Values are what make our efforts meaningful even if a particular result is not attained. Values allow us to stand for an ideal not fight against an argument. Making a commitment to principles, that are themselves timeless, means that we see beyond the moment and visualize something worth working for.

Values exist in the background of our lives. Values are not typically written in our resume or on the letterhead of our business stationary. If they are, it seems we are being pretentious or self-aggrandizing. Values define our demonstrated character and are reflected in our persona as if coming from an inner radiance. They are more about our core substance and less about our appearance.

In the September 2018 issue of Psychology Today the lead article by Steven C Hayes is 10 Signs You Know What Matters. Quoting from his introductory words:

“Values are what bring distinction to your life … From achievement and adventure to wisdom and wonder, not to mention kindness, innovation and professionalism, values are those things you deem important in life. As expressions of what you care about, they profoundly inform what you pursue day to day, year to year. In so doing, they fundamentally shape the trajectory of your whole life.

Values are an inexhaustible source of motivation – inexhaustible because they are qualities intrinsic to being and doing. They are visible through their enactments. They’re adverbs, or adjectives, or verbs … Because they are chosen qualities of actions, they can never be fully achieved, only embraced and demonstrated. Nevertheless, they give life direction and help us persist through difficulties. They nudge us, invite us, and draw us forward. They provide a constant soft encouragement.”

Steven C. Hayes is a clinical psychologist and Nevada Foundation Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Psychology, where he runs a Ph.D. program in behavior analysis Visit his web page at: unr.edu/psychology/faculty/steven-hayes

For more information about developing a new approach to living go to reinventionenterprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/

Counter-Intuitive: Poem by Lowry Foster

Lowry is a dear friend with a sensitive heart and the gift of accurately identifying and articulating his inner self. From time to time I use some of his poetry to reinforce my thesis of the value of inner-personal work. Please take a moment of quiet reflection and use his words to get in touch with that sacred place inside yourself you rarely go.

December 5, 2016

There are times when I feel I’m not in control and can’t fix it;
Everything within me wants to push away and pull within …

My default draws me toward darkness and isolation;
Where I am free to despair and throw my own pity party …

In these very depths I hear a Voice that joins me;
And point me toward the light …

Invariably it helps counter-intuitively to get my eyes off me;
To remind myself it’s not all about me and how can I help someone else.

Like Lowry’s facebook page where he often contributes his stream of consciousness.

I find this poem very reminiscent of the thoughts expressed in Stage 12 of the book starting on page 114.

To acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/