The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, January 31, 2011

Healing Rage

I love the 101. Originally planned as a paying project, I intended to test it on a group for six months, and then take it commercial. It's been three years. The results have been so good that I can't bring myself to charge for it. Yeah, I know that's weird. But its true. I'll make money doing other things. This feels like my gift to the world.

Why? Read the following, posted today by one of my students. This is good, solid, meaningful work.


This is turning into a very different round. Last round I kept myself off of any supplementary self-help books in order to really focus on the program (I have a history of self-sabotage by exposing myself to more wisdom than I can absorb.)

This round, it's like my slate's been cleared for some serious supplemental work.

So, late in last round, I started getting a real clear look at my own worst side. It was like I'd at last discovered my inner child, and she was "a fat, sulky, spoiled fat year old who felt totally entitled to take from the world to make up for her pain." You should have seen my therapist dress me down for saying that-- I recall her words ending that conversation as "the age was the only part you got right in that description."

So in the meantime, the first of the self-help books I picked up, put back down, and put on hold until 2011 came in. Ruth King's _Healing Rage_. (For all you writers out there, _Healing Rage_ started as a self-published book that was supposed to come and go like a shooting star... until a copy fell into Alice Walker's hands and she declared it one of the most important books she'd ever read.)

So I ate up the first chapter and the second and totally delighted in the whole book right up until the little quiz where Ruth King gets the reader to identify the particular major disguise that the reader uses to cover her Rage: Dominance (active Fight), Defiance (reactive Fight), Devotion (active Flight), Distraction (reactive Flight), Dependence (active Freeze) and Depression (reactive Freeze).

I tested Dependence. I don't want to write that here, I don't want to share that with y'all, I don't want to listen to it myself, and if I had read the book two weeks-- just two weeks before I did... I absolutely would not have believed it.
But I could not ignore the results in the book exactly matching the journal notes I'd been making on what I see as I become able to see myself at my worst.

So, meanwhile, my therapist sends me home with a new sheet she'd entitled "Core Beliefs". I'm calling them "Fear Languages". You heard of the idea that we have primary "Love Languages"-- that if a Touch person isn't getting Touch all the good Words in the world won't get through, etc.? Well, this was a sheet of primal-level personal Fears-- that particular Fear that if it gets twanged, you're not hearing anything else, you're not thinking any longer, you are in the maelstrom.

Took us about ten seconds to figure out my Core Fear is Helplessness.

So-- the persona with which I face the world, the way I structure social situations around my Rage... is Dependence.
And the trigger condition which will totally unhinge me, is Helplessness.

Let's think about how those two constructs work in tandem.

I think I'm due an honorary engineering degree for this one.

So, that was the background. This week's breakthrough, I took a long hard look at what went well and what didn't on my first chaplaincy shifts, and nailed the tail of what didn't go well as it tried to shrink away. I didn't introduce myself to the chief nurse of my unit because the nurses were too busy to disturb. Uh-uh. That's not an observation, that there is an excuse: nurses are always busy. If I stay "nice" and "quiet" and "out of the way", my unit's chief nurse is never going to know me the way he or she needs to; I have to come out behind the mask to do this job right.

I have just reached the point where what I have consciously chosen to do with my life has locked horns with what I have unconsciously chosen to do with my life.

Plus, there's been a metric ton of schoolwork that I can barely keep up with.


Steve here again. Whoa. If this student takes action, she will experience genuine growth. Information that does not affect behavior has little value. I suspect there's gold in them thar words.

I'm thinking about getting my first tattoo...a little Musashi image on my left forearm. Just a little something to think on.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Goals must be accompanied by seething, burning emotion to motivate us. Don't just recite them, BREATHE and MOVE them, with joy and passion.

All it takes to get everything you need is everything you've got.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Drugs and alcohol disrupt the feedback loop that helps us govern behavior. We didn't evolve to "feel good" even when we perform poorly.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quadraplegics undergo personality change, due to lack of motor feedback. We "forget" how our bodies work due to inactivity or obesity.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Last night I attended a screening of director William Friedkin's classic "Sorcerer", a little-seen adventure film starring Roy Scheider as a man on an impossible mission. It is a gritty, nasty, impeccably made film doomed to obscurity probably for the sin of using a supernaturally suggestive title designed to sucker in fans of "The Exorcist." Audiences resented the bait-and-switch, and a perfectly beautiful adventure film got exiled to the slag-heaps of history.

More on that later. But one thing that happened during the Q & A afterward (hosted by Oscar nominee Josh Olson, a lovely guy) was that Friedkin was asked what advice he has for young filmmakers. He didn't hesitate a moment: "Watch Alfred Hitchcock" he said, and then went into a short lecture on the critical importance of modeling the expert work of the masters.

I've talked about this again and again. There is nothing sadder than talking to an amateur, unpublished writer who will not read, for fear that she will accidentally imitate that writer. This is so incredibly wrong-headed, almost exactly the opposite of the successful approach. Invariably, the "best" in any field have an encyclopedic knowledge of those who have come before. Listening to Mike Tyson talk about the vast library of fight films he studied as a teen-ager is a revelation: no, the man was not just a physical marvel and an emotional wrecking machine. He was also a scholar of his sport.

From an NLP perspective, what are the three things you must examine when studying the work of an expert?

1)Belief systems. What does the expert believe about his craft? It's importance? Meaning? The origin of his creativity and focus? What does the expert believe about the nature of human existence? The purpose of life? The worth of art and commerce?

What you are looking for is the DIFFERENCE between the beliefs of successful people, and the beliefs held by...well, not to put too fine a line on it, failures. And it doesn't matter what the arena is...those who succeed have different beliefs from those who fail. Always. In business: failures don't match their actions to their abilities. Try too much or too little. Blame external circumstances with beliefs like "it takes money to make money" and "money is the root of all evil" and so forth. Writers who fail blame the market, avoid submitting their stories for fear of rejection, and so forth.

In relationships, they exhibit an inability to separate their specific and individual experiences from broad-based beliefs about an entire gender. Women and men who harbor the worst kinds of negative stereotypes about each other, or resort to dishonesty in an attempt to get sex. Who, in other words, have no confidence that honesty and openness will be rewarded. They look at their past failures as meaning either that there is something wrong with the opposite sex, or there is something "unfixable" about themselves. Very unfortunate.

And physically, of course...well, I don't want to go into some of the horribly self-defeating internal dialogue people have about their bodies. We store so much negative emotion here that it is rare someone will try to lose weight or gain muscle without a boatload of negative voices trying to convince you that body shifting is impossibly complex, or too risky, or too painful.

We've talked about these things before, but it is critical that you understand the impact of your belief systems on your behaviors.

And by the way: what could one learn about Hitchcock's beliefs from his films? Look at the way he was both hypnotized by, and wary of, human sexuality. Study "Saboteur" or "North By NorthWest" for some clues about patriotism, social obligation, even romance and human psychology. Hitch worked with his writers deeply and carefully, and his influence can be felt in every line of dialogue, every frame of film. By studying Hitch, it is possible to sense the interaction of elements you may not have even considered.

I repeat: if you want to increase your skill and success in a given arena, study the work and lives of people who are more successful than you. Associate with them. Note what they talk about, how they speak of their arenas.

Then...if you have the stomach for it, specifically study the attitudes and work of those who fail in your chosen arena. I promise you: their emotional attitudes are very different, whether it is about relationships, fitness, or success.

Study your arena, and make your choice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

King knew what he was willing to die for...and that empowered his existence. What are YOU willing to die for? The answer will define you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Diamond Hour
Saturday, January 15, 2011 1:00 PM pst
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The Diamond Hour
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(724) 444-7444
Second-Chakra energy and
TACFIT Warrior

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Diamond Hour
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Consciousness, Fitness, and Fun.
TACFIT Warrior!

Flow And Performance

Flow and performance

As long as you have a body, you will have an ego, a self-representation that is "you" for all practical purposes. It is composed of all your self-concepts, everything you have ever thought of yourself, everything you've ever been told by anyone you trusted or needed to please.

It is a mosaic formed of a million opinions, a cocoon spun from a million threads, and both protects and limits. You know this is truth: every time you've ever performed at total peak level, the normal "you" wasn't there at all. For me, this can feel like "stepping aside" or even better, there is no awareness of self at all, only the Thing Itself.

The doorway into this state is Flow. Flow might be considered the lowest level esoteric state...or the highest state of "ordinary" awareness. It can be described as dissolution of the subject-object relationship, the melting of boundaries and the conquest of time. It is "the danger zone, where the dancer becomes the dance" in those fine, enlightened words from "Flashdance."

We experience flow as the mind shifting from digital to analogue, from words to images, from images to sensations. I've experienced this in many ways: In writing, I melt into the page. In running, it feels as if I'm standing still, and the rest of the world is moving around me. In Tai Chi, I am standing still and the universe is folding me like origami. In sex, the artificial difference between the lover and the beloved vanishes as orgasm approaches. In driving, time vanishes and I reach home with little awareness of the intervening events. In fighting, there is no fight--just a dance of pressure, vector, and intent, two people engaged in, for a brief moment, becoming a single event.

Flow is flow. Whereever you find it in your life, watch "from the corner of your eye" as it were, to see how you are breathing, sitting, holding your facial expressions. And seek that same sense of relaxed focus in other arenas. Seek grace, focus, and form in all aspects of life. Seek peace in intensity.

If you have honor, nothing else matters. If you have no honor, nothing else matters.--
Scott Sonnon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Look. I'm a Liberal, but...

In listening to rhetoric about the Arizona shootings, I've picked up something that disturbs me. No, I'm not trying to make an equivalency between the actions of Left and Right. I'm merely commenting that there's something that makes me glad I'm not very political. It is this: on every Right-wing talk show there is insistence that talk had nothing to do with it. And on every Left-wing talk show, there is insistence that the Righties are lying sacks of shit.

And in the midst of all this, a simple question seems to have been forgotten: what will make this a safer world for nine-year-old girls? Remember after 9/11, when for a short period of time the whole world sympathized with us, and the Left stated (correctly, in my opinion) that America squandered an opportunity to take the high road, target the killers with surgical precision and use that cultural capital to build a safer world?

Well, something like that is happening right now. Every sane human being I've heard (and that is 99% of either Right or Left) has been appalled by the death of Christina Green. From a martial arts perspective, there is an opportunity to "Aikido" this: to look at the shared future and values held by everyone worth giving a damn about in this or any country. "Tone down the rhetoric on both sides" accomplishes EXACTLY what we want. Who cares if your damn feelings are hurt, because you think that implies that "your" side is equally to blame? What is it you're trying to accomplish: making the world safer, increasing the civility in political discourse and stopping the demonization...or being "right"? People die in bar fights every damn day because they had to be "right."

Here's the fact: whether they are responsible or not, NO TALK SHOW HOST IS GOING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for this without opening himself to legal action or civil liability. Never. Doesn't matter whether that person was Liberal or Conservative. It is simply absurd to expect someone to say "we caused this" without multi-million dollar law suits. So when you point and scream: "take the blame" you know very well you aren't accomplishing anything other than feeling "right" and counting coup. On the other hand, if you say: "both sides need to calm the rhetoric", you give everyone, regardless of guilt or innocence, protective coloration and the safety to drop their guard. Exhale and return to neutral corners. Consider what has happened here, and remember that we are all Americans, and most of us are mothers and fathers who love nine year old girls.

If the girl is important, be kind. Be gentle and remember that no fighter drops his hands while the other guy is still swinging. If you insist on swinging, then you are more interested in your ego than in the safety of children.

Of course, as Dennis Miller said back when he was funny, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


Sex and Consciousness
on The Diamond Hour
Sat., 1/15/11 1:00 PM pst
(724) 444-7444
Plus: TACFIT Warrior!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The real reason "mankind" might not ever embrace Utopia is that no two people have exactly the same definition of what it is.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions on
The Diamond Hour
Saturday, January 1, 2011 1:00 PM pst
(724) 444-7444