All posts by Rob

Mother Nature just put us all in time out

The human inhabitants of our world are struggling with a ruthless pandemic, and many are dying while the swans are returning to Venice and the fish are visible again, swimming below in the clearer waters of the canals.

Many years ago, as a beginning therapist, I learned the technique of the “time-out.” I asked couples caught up in repetitive marital arguments to take a break, retreat to neutral corners, and reflect. I wanted them to find a quiet space and take time to reflect on their own feelings and behavior before reacting. In that place of solitude, I asked them to consider how they might approach the issue differently so they might resolve the conflict. Are they listening closely to what their partner has to say? Do they understand their feelings and needs before responding? Or are they reacting to what they think they heard them say?

I used the same technique with parents having difficult times with their children. I remember asking one mother if she used time-out with her four-year-old son who was driving her crazy. She said, “I seem to have him in time out all the time. When he throws his temper tantrums, I march him off to the bathroom, put him inside, and tell him he can come out when he stops. He goes nuts in there, kicking the door and screaming. The problem is, he’s getting bigger and I can’t chase him all over house and physically force him into the bathroom.”

I paused a moment before I said, “Oh, that’s the problem, you’re putting the wrong person in time-out.”

She said, “What?”

“It’s you who needs to go into time-out.”

“Me?” she asked with a confused look on her face.

“Yes; you. The next time he throws a tantrum, I want you to take yourself to the bathroom and lock yourself in there until he stops,” I instructed. “You must not come out until he is quiet for at least three full minutes.”

She said, “And leave him alone out in the house? He’ll destroy it! He’ll break everything we own. And what if he walks out the front door and goes out in the street alone and gets hit by a car?

“It’s just an experiment.” I replied. “Just put all your valuables away and lock the doors. Trust me, he won’t do either. That’s just your anxiety talking. Are you willing to try?”

She agreed to try. I added, “And while you are in the bathroom, I want you to meditate; calm yourself down. Remind yourself you are a great mother trying to learn something new, and everything will turn out well.”

The next week she came in to report what happened. She followed the instructions, taking herself into time-out in the bathroom when he was throwing one of his worst tantrums ever. When she closed and locked herself in, he promptly parked himself outside the door, screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. He kicked and punched the bathroom door. She heard him throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming. She thought she would explode. She had to cover her ears and sing to herself to block out the racket.

And then she heard nothing coming from the other side of the door. Her anxiety went through the roof. She thought, “Oh God, what’s he doing now. She uncovered her ears and heard him breathing on the other side of the door. She remembered she had to wait a full three minutes before she did anything. It seemed like a lifetime. After about one minute she heard him say something quietly to himself. She heard him say in his four-year-old voice, “This just isn’t working anymore.” She waited another minute before she opened the door. She pulled her son up, gave him a big hug, and had a good day.
She couldn’t believe it. “This just isn’t working anymore? Could a four-year-old really have such insight?” she asked me.

“Who knows…” I said. “Who cares.” You learned that taking yourself to time-out, relaxing, and waiting for things to settle down on their own, works.

So as I sit here in my easy chair in my living room, listening to Joni Mitchell singing to me in the background while I write this article, Mother Earth’s words come to me… to all of us.

She says, “I have sent you all into time out. I have sent this pandemic to you as your loving mother. To survive, you must go to your homes and be alone for a while. I am putting you in time-out to reflect, to listen, and to act. Give yourself time to reflect on how you have been behaving. Listen closely to what is taking place on the planet. It is serious. Take responsibility for what is going on in your environment; your personal environment, and the larger environment. If you are being a virus on my earth, then stop. If you are over-consuming and polluting, you must do better. Hold the earth in love. Care for it. Stop your pettiness and learn to love one another. I have the power to cleanse the earth of you if need be. Heed this warning you are experiencing. The life I offer you is a blessing; not a privilege.”

I’ve written and spoken the words she sent me for all of us to hear. We are all frightened by what is happening on our planet. Our way of life may have to change forever. If we are to survive, we must take ourselves to time-out. Spend these hours we have alone to reflect, to take care of yourselves, to remain physically and socially isolated until the danger is past. Be quiet and reflect on the state of ourselves in relationship to each other and our planet.

I love you.

It’s October for White Male Privilige

It’s October and the bees are dying. One is walking feebly around the surface of my patio table. His life is done, his work complete. He walks, no longer able to fly. His rump curls weakly as if trying to find something to plunge his stinger into trying to fulfill his life’s purpose.

It’s October for white male privilege; Caucasian entitlement is tired, old, no longer relevant, retaining its stinger. The future is female, tan, caramel brown, black onyx, and every shade in between. The future relies on living like the bees in the hive; in cooperation, civility, patience, knowledge, truth, compassion, sharing, and most of all love. In the October of my life, I choose the future, always mindful of the stinger.


Beloofs about the Holidays 2017

Well, it’s time for my annual Holiday blog and podcast. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, even Festivus for the rest of us first celebrated on the
Seinfeld show, I reflect again on all the beloofs created by the major religions regarding the potential meaning of the holidays. As a
therapist, I see the results of such beloofs in the emotional reactions of my clients to the holidays. The truth is not so pretty.

The most troubling to me are the beloofs that we must be “happy” and “joyous” during the holidays. I’ve learned it isn’t so for many people. We are exposed to the stereotypic scenes about the holidays: pretty families around a bountiful table of food, laughing and talking, celebrating and sharing gifts. Fires in fireplaces, trees decorated with colorful artifacts, candles glistening in the windows.

We send cards to each other and greet each other with words of happiness and hope: “Happy Holidays”, “Season’s Greetings”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Best Wishes”, “Peace on Earth”, “Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year”, etc., etc.


If we really said what is in our authentic hearts and heads, would the words be these standard greetings and trite sayings we smile to each other as we pass on the street, in the mall, or in the workplace? Or perhaps might we share the truth about how we are feeling about what’s going on in our lives.

That’s not to say that for many of us the holiday season conjures memories of “Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la”. But for others, the season may trigger memories of drunken brawls, sexual molestation, abandonment, neglect, loneliness, poverty, or even death. Is one of our beloofs, “If I feel and express my real feelings during the holidays will I be seen as a Grinch?” Or, “If I don’t buy everyone the right gift they will think I don’t really care about them.” Or perhaps, “I don’t want ‘ruin’ the holidays for those around me?” Or maybe, “Let’s forget about it, just get drunk and watch football.”

Do I spend the holidays surrounded by others, or perhaps isolated and alone? Am I estranged from my family, or perhaps going through an ugly or heartbreaking ending of a relationship? Am I out of work or just short on money? Do I create stress and tension in my life secretly creating debt to try to keep up with my more affluent friends and family? Do I turn to my addictions to food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex, in my secret need to find ways to sooth the overwhelming tension throughout my body, and to hide the shame and self-loathing that resides deep in my psyche?

How did these beloofs develop in the first place? Where did they come from – why are they so firmly entrenched in me as if they are a part of my very make-up? Well, I’ll tell you: These beloofs are bequeathed to us from our family system. They are passed on from generation to generation of millennia of ancestry. They are based in an antiquity of dogma and training from our various religious indoctrinations. These beloofs are in our deep-seated fear of being an outlier; of being different; of not fitting in; of being judged and ridiculed if we take the risk of expressing our authentic selves.

Are these beloofs working for you? If the answer is yes, then by all means hold on to them and be grateful for them. No one will judge you for having a joyous and fruitful holiday season. All I ask is that you recognize that not everyone shares your experience of the holidays, and honor their experience even if it does not reflect yours.

Are these beloofs about the holidays not working for you anymore. Do you really want to hang on to beloofs that don’t work for you anymore? Then try not to judge yourself for how you might be feeling this holiday season. You can release from the beloofs that no longer serve you and breath them out of your cells.

Here are some new beliefs in the form of mantras to consider repeating to yourself throughout the holiday season. Let yourself relax and breathe deeply, and repeat them to yourself many times per day as the holidays approach. I know they will change the way you feel at a very deep level if you practice them often. You may say them along with me if you wish:

“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”
“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”
“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”

“My life is evolving precisely as it should”
“My life is evolving precisely as it should”
“My life is evolving precisely as it should”

“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”
“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”
“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”

“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”
“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”
“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”

May we all teach peace and well-being throughout the entire New Year!

Be Well, and take care.


Beloofs about Meh…

I was sitting with a client the other day, and she was describing how her week was going. She had recently started a new and prestigious  job with a big name Fortune 500 company, was continuing in a  close relationship with a long-term partner, was forming a new and more realistic relationship with the members of her family of origin, was financially stable; all seeming to be good news.
In classic therapist fashion, I asked a critical question: “How are you feeling?”
She looked down at the floor and after a long pause said, “Meh.”

For those of you who know me well, I am a word and definition freak. As a hypnotherapist, I’ve learned well that words and how we define them hold the key to our experience of life. So, of course, I had to go to he dictionary right there during our session together.


1. expressing a lack of interest or enthusiasm
“Meh. I’m not impressed so far”
2. uninspiring; unexceptional.
“a lot of his movies are…meh”

I asked her to tell me more.
She said, “I feel like I just don’t care anymore.”
The therapist in me had to ask, “Are you depressed?”
She said, “No, I just don’t care as much. I’m happy just to be doing the normal things in life, and doing my art.”

And then I asked, “Might you simply be more relaxed?”

Long pause…and then she said, “All I know is that it doesn’t feel ‘right’; like something is wrong.”

This person carries a great deal of intensity into her life. She likes to go 100 miles per hour, and lives on adrenaline. She possesses an Ego with a capital E; craving achievement and recognition. She was raised that way and it is deeply imbedded in her subconscious beloof system.

Here is the beloof system many of us carry from our early conditioning:

  • My value is in what I do and not who I am
  • My self-esteem is based on my achievements and acquisitions
  • My feelings and emotions are secondary in life
  • How things feel is unimportant
  • When I express my feelings and needs, I am showing weakness
  • I always must be on alert for danger

So I said to her, “Perhaps you are approaching life in a more relaxed fashion, and it seems like you just don’t care as much as you used to.  It could be you are learning new ways to create safety; real safety in your life. Maybe, just maybe, you are learning to love yourself just the way you are at any given moment. ”

She looked at me with even more puzzlement in her eyes. What I was proposing wasn’t quite computing yet. She was in-between where she had come from, and where she is going.

I know that place well…I have spent many days observing where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. Fortunately, I spent enough time in those places and collected enough life tools and experiences to know that I am safe, and the universe is supplying me with everything I need and more during my change times.

I said to her, “Be patient with yourself as you travel. Everything you need is already inside of you, and you are not alone. You are safe when you stay connected to source energy.”

She looked perhaps even more puzzled…but I saw that she let my words go in anyway.

Here is the mantra to help you on your journey from here to there:

“The universe is the source of everything I need in my lifelong travels from here to there. I am safe in the arms of my creator.”

“The universe is the source of everything I need in my lifelong travels from here to there. I am safe in the arms of my creator.”

“The universe is the source of everything I need in my lifelong travels from here to there. I am safe in the arms of my creator.”

Aho! I love you…


Make Me Proud (Don’t Embarrass Me)

   Sorry that I’ve been gone for a while, but I received a brand new knee a few months ago, and the recovery has been quite a journey.

While I’ve been recuperating, I’ve been thinking about my beloofs about the “legacy” I am creating.  Maybe it has something to do with approaching 70 years of age (weird) or realizing I have adult children who are in their 30’s, or both.

I am also aware of a desire I feel to perhaps help or impart some wisdom or guidance to young parents – something I want to give back. It pains me to see them struggle with the job of raising their children as they absolutely wear themselves out (as we did for the first phase of raising our own children) seeing their children as a representation of their “legacy”. They seem to be working to have “perfect” children” (what an oxymoron), and literally that goal is killing them. As I’ve aged, my concept of my “legacy”, especially in regards to my children has dramatically changed.

So I realized I better know the dictionary definition of the word “legacy” to test my assumptions:

Definition of legacy
  1. 1:  a gift by will especially of money or other personal property :  bequest She left us a legacy of a million dollars.

  2. 2:  something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past: the legacy of the ancient philosophers: The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.

Hmmm…not what I was expecting.

I grew up in an era when my very life represented my parent’s “legacy”. I was an embodiment of my parent’s “beliefs” (beloofs?) and values and I was a living reflection of their value as human beings. I was expected never to bring shame or dishonor to our family’s name. I had to achieve professional recognition, honor, and financial achievement as a testament to their sacrifice and success as parents. It was not an option to bring dishonor or negative attention upon myself as it would reflect my bringing dishonor and negative attention to my parents. It would violate their “image”, their “standing” in the community. So the part of me that was different from them; the part of me that was an individual; that wanted to rebel, went underground and expressed itself in self-destructive ways; addiction, acting out, engaging in risky behavior, self-sabotage.

Probably the greatest lesson (legacy?) my children gave me was to refuse to become the embodiment of my “legacy”. They taught me early and completely that my level of influence with them was negligible and perhaps non-existent.  The more I tried to mold them into the image of my “legacy” the less interested they were in indulging me.

And so I gave up – I surrendered. And that is when the real understanding of my legacy started to come to me, and I hated it. My legacy to my children was to get the hell out of their way; to hand over the keys to their life as early as possible and to complete the process of my own individuation and maturation.

Yes, it was my responsibility to keep them safe, fed, clothed, and sheltered until they were able to do that for themselves. But the only true “legacy” I could leave them about life, was to get back to learning to live my own life from the place of highest consciousness possible; to take care of my self as best as I possibly can every day that I can.  And definitely not to steal their personal accomplishments from them by taking responsibility or credit for them, nor to judge or rescue them when they stumble so they learn to rise back up when life knocks them down.

We like to rescue our children from life’s hurts because they remind us of our own hurts that might still be unhealed. But it is precisely experiencing those hurts and learning how to heal and change that makes us who we are today. Let’s try to stay out of our children’s way by tending to our own life’s challenges and quietly watch them grow into who they are meant to be.

Here are my mantras that reflect the legacy I wish to bequeath to my children and all children everywhere:

I strive to come from a place of my highest good
I strive to come from a place of my highest good
I strive to come from a place of my highest good

I am an instrument of healing in the world
I am an instrument of healing in the world
I am an instrument of healing in the world

I humbly teach peace
I humbly teach peace
I humbly teach peace

I love you!

Beloofs about Shame

shame-600x320When I started second grade, I went to a new public school. I spent two years at a private school after I badgered my mother into sending me to school when I was five years old. She found a neat private school with two teachers for a class of around 20 kids. I loved it.

I spent kindergarten and first grade there and then switched to the public school for second grade. When I got to my new school, all the other kids were a year older than me and there were over 28 kids in the class with one teacher. No one really took the time to orient me to the school not knowing that I had just arrived that year. I really missed my old school.

On the very first day I was sitting in the back of the class nervous and self-conscious. As time passed, I really had to go to the bathroom, and had no idea what the rules were or where the bathroom was. I was frozen in the same shock I experienced in my drugged birth (see my previous post, “I’m not worthy…). Before I knew what was happening I felt warm liquid pooling in my seat that quickly turning into a soaking wet cold stain all over my pants.

My whole body went limp with shame. My stomach tied into knots, my hands flew up to cover my eyes and mouth. I didn’t want anyone to see me, and I didn’t want to see anyone else. I wanted to become invisible; to drop out of existence. I left my body so ashamed of how it had betrayed me.

I didn’t hear these words come out of my mouth, but here are the beloofs I must have said to myself:

“I can’t believe I’m so stupid”
“I must be broken”
“I am totally unlovable”
“I am not even likeable”

And although I never heard these beloofs said to me out loud by others, I was sure I could read their minds and know what they were thinking:

“Shame on you”
“I can’t believe you did that!”
“How could you have done such a thing”
“What is wrong with you
“You should be ashamed”
“I  can’t believe you’re so stupid”

Thank God my new teacher saw my distress and came back to my seat. She immediately saw what had happened and grabbed a towel to put on my seat. She whisked me off to the boys restroom and then off to the office to wait for my mother to pick me up. She tried to reassure me that I had done nothing wrong and should have alerted her to needing to go to the restroom.

But her words fell on a deaf spirit. My beloofs of shame had already been installed when I had accidents as a little kid. For little ones, beloofs of shame are inevitable.

Shame is the physical and emotional manifestation of wrong thinking; what I call “beloofs”. However, even though they are based in wrong thinking, beloofs “feel” just the same, and can be overwhelming. For those who have pets, we can see this automatic response in our animals – even the beautiful Polar Bear in the picture living out in the wild.

If I just look at my dog Reggie with a feeling of anger or frustration inside of me, his tail droops and his eyes drop to the floor. I can feel the shame he feels, and it’s heartbreaking. His total reason for being is to please me, and he has failed at his core.

Shame is a built in response, but is totally counterproductive if its only result is to cause us to feel badly about ourselves. In this case it has transformed from guilt, which helps us to improve, to shame which causes us to give up.

Shame feelings are a result of learned ideas and they are wrong, but the feelings are real and devastating. We have to heal on a physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological plane. I won’t pretend to heal anyone’s shame in a blog article – only to say that shame is a false feeling and does not have to control our lives.

It is healable.

Here are my mantras for healing shame:

“I am a child of the Creator
I am a child of the Creator
I am a child of the Creator”

“I am whole and pure
I am whole and pure
I am whole and pure”

“I love myself unconditionally
I love myself unconditionally
I love myself unconditionally”

“I forgive myself for my flaws and mistakes, and take responsibility when I’ve acted without of integrity
I forgive myself for my flaws and mistakes, and take responsibility when I’ve acted without of integrity
I forgive myself for my flaws and mistakes, and take responsibility when I’ve acted without of integrity”

Let’s all become teachers of peace, and healers of shame.

I love you,


I Still Believe…a Tribute to Elie Wiesel

elie-wiesel1Hi. My name is Rob and I am a serial people watcher. There; I admit it. I watch the news channels daily – my family would say I’m addicted. I admit I am addicted to all people and to watching them live their lives.

Yesterday, I watched the hostage siege ending in Bangladesh with 20 hostages and all the terrorists killed. The news of Elie Wiesel’s death followed closely, and this morning I checked in with CBS News and learned of the bombings in Baghdad on the last day of Ramadan.

People. Just people being people.

I admit that at times I feel discouraged and sad. I am sad that one of the greatest human beings of all time has left the planet, and I grieve for all victims of violence all over the globe. I know that if I choose, I can sink into despair, hopelessness, and depression. At times I wonder if I should; if perhaps it would be easier not to feel. The beloofs of despair and hopelessness are well known and easy to access:

“The world is going to hell in a handbasket”
“Maybe someday my ship will come in”
“Some people are just meant to be alone”
“Death is inevitable”
“What’s the point?”

And of course, those who practice hate and murder have their own beloofs. I will not put them into words here, because uttering such  beloofs gives them power and meaning. We have heard them before; at times even from those who seek to lead. They are beloofs of racism, hate, arrogance, ego, and fear.

LakeunionBut then, as my wife Mary Anne and I sat having dinner last night on the deck of one of our favorite Seattle restaurants with a wonderful sunset view of Lake Union, I found myself watching the other diners and the wait staff mingling and weaving around the tables. As I savored the wonderful oysters and wedge salad I had been served,  tears started to well up in my eyes as I soaked up the joy and love I witnessed all around me. Couples in deep conversation of love and romance. Groups of friends sharing their stories of the day, drinking and laughing together.

People. Just people being people.

I know deep in my soul and throughout every cell of my heart that the vast majority of human beings are pure and moral and ethical and loving at their core. Those who are not can create a great deal of suffering and chaos, but I believe they will never prevail. Elie Wiesel knew that better than anyone. Having survived the horror of Auschwitz at just 15, Elie Wiesel never lost his belief in people. He also knew he must use his voice – use his words for hope and good.

In the concentration camps, we discovered this whole universe where everyone had his place. The killer came to kill, and the victims came to die.

Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.

There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.

When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.
Elie Wiesel

Here are my mantras in support of my belief in people:

May I always remember that at our core, we human beings are loving, moral, caring people.
May I rise up to my highest self above those who are misguided in their beloofs and actions, maintaining my true sense of hope and gratitude.
May I use my clear, conscious, true voice as an instrument of gratitude and healing for all who might commit or suffer violence among my brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.

May you rest in peace brother Elie, and may we all teach peace.

If I See Myself in the Mirror

dissociation     If I really see my self in my mirror, I will see my pain. If I see my pain, I will feel my pain. If I feel my pain, I will cry. If I cry, I may never stop. If I never stop crying…
Can you see where this is going?

When I heard the children crying as I watched  the video a passenger recorded just after the airport bombing in Belgium, I dissociated. I turned away from my pain like the man in the mirror. It was all I could do.

Had I been in the airport that day and survived the bombing , I know I would have run to the crying children and gathered them up into my arms. That’s how I’m built – I run towards chaos rather than away. I’m not trying to brag; sometimes I wish it were not the case. Years ago,  when the logging truck we were following  overturned in front of us, I slammed on my brakes and was out of my car before I knew what I was doing. As I ran to the cab of the truck, my mind said, “Are you crazy? You have a wife and two small daughters in your car.”

Diesel fuel was cascading down from the tanks and the driver was trying to push up to open the driver’s door that was now sideways over 10 feet in the air. I started to scramble up the bottom of the truck over the tires as the driver pushed the door straight up and crawled out over the running board below the door. When he was halfway out, I grabbed onto his hands and helped him climb down towards me and the roadway below us. He jumped the last few feet to the ground and I pulled him away from the truck. He was in shock, and I was completely dissociated from my emotions. I was the man in the picture, disconnected from the man in the mirror.

As I ran back to my car to check on the family, I felt excitement and arousal. My wife and children were afraid and angry. Why had I put myself in danger? Why didn’t I think of them?

Dissociation allows us to perform in the face of danger. It is an autonomic response – the fight part of the fight or flight response. We hone dissociation to protect ourselves from the reality of trauma; 911, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Gabby Giffords, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Oklahoma City, Paris, Belgium…the sights and sounds of trauma overwhelms our nervous system and it learns to shut down in self defense. When we are exposed to danger and intense feelings on a chronic basis, we develop beloofs that maintain our dissociation. We stop feeling.

“Thank God its not us.”
“It must be God’s will.”
“Don’t be afraid…”
“It can’t happen here.”
“Maybe they didn’t suffer.”

But the cries of the children amid the bodies scattered on the floor of the Belgium airport were not to be denied. My heart exploded in pain. Sadness wracked my being. Rage welled up in arms and legs. Confusion filled my head. I will not dissociate! I will not dissociate!

Here is my mantra for times when we witness intense trauma:
“May I always remain conscious and present to the hurt, rage, and devastation of the innocent children of violence .”
“May I always remain conscious and present to the hurt, rage, and devastation of the innocent children of violence .”
“May I always remain conscious and present to the hurt, rage, and devastation of the innocent children of violence .”

“And may we always teach Peace.”


You’re Not the Boss of Me!

QuestionAuthority-640x199Driving home from work the other day, I looked up to see flashing police lights in my rear view mirror. I thought I had seen the dark shadow of one of those new urban assault style police SUV’s lurking down the street when I made my stop at the four way intersection a few blocks from my office. I knew quite well that I had made a “legal” stop at the corner. There had been no other cars at any of the other stop signs, and after stopping I proceeded through the intersection in a completely safe manner. At 66 years of age, I drive much more like the old man that I am rather than the Mario Andretti shadow of my youth, so I was sure the young officer approaching my car was stopping me for my broken turn signal that I had not fixed yet.

Of course, his opening gambit was, “Do you know why I am stopping you sir?” His attitude and energy was cold and disinterested.  “I have no idea, officer” I replied. “Why don’t you tell me”.

“You made a rolling stop at the four-way” he informed me. My stomach turned. I knew I had made a perfectly adequate stop at the intersection. “How do you determine that is was a ‘rolling stop’?” I queried. “I keep looking at the front wheel of your car.” he replied. ” If it moves even a half-inch during your stop, it is a rolling stop. I can show you on the dash-cam if you like.”

I was sure the video replay would show that my front wheel travelled the requisite one-half inch requirement to qualify as a “rolling stop”, and that I was screwed. As he handed me a ticket for $136, I knew he was one ticket closer to his quota for the day. I think I said something like, “I feel so much better knowing that officers like you are keeping me safe from scofflaws like me.” As I said it, I knew I had descended into my own shadow of authority represented by the cartoon above.

I drove away feeling angry and defiant and began planning my response. I would contest the ticket pulling the offending officer into the courtroom to explain his overreaching behavior. I was an outraged victim turned persecutor looking for judge to rescue me from an obvious abuse of power. My beloofs about my relationship to authorities were raging – I was both 2 and 16 years old again.

“You’re not the boss of me!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
“I’ll do anything I want!”
“Who says so?”
“Why me?”

As I drove on continuing to create my story of police abuse, the energy in my body was nauseating me…until I remembered to breathe. I took several slow deep breaths and felt my body relax. And as I started to come out of shock, I suddenly remembered that I had decided years ago that the police issue unnecessary tickets as a way to raise additional income for the city – not just to correct my bad driving behavior or to protect the citizens of our community from me. It’s simply a mechanism for the city to reduce its deficit and has nothing to do with me as an individual. Understanding it this way reduces my reactivity (and stomach acid) and allows me to be happy about helping out our city as a responsible citizen or the community. I decided to pay the ticket as soon as I got home with the city’s convenient online ticket payment system. It was already posted on the court site by the time I arrived.

But what about “real” abuses of authority; a 13 year old student sexually abused by a trusted teacher; a young black male shot in the back after shoplifting cigars, a woman stoned to death for being raped; these are real and outrageous abuses that must be confronted and stopped by the laws of humans and nature. Victims must take responsibility for recovering from abuses in a healthy way, and those who abuse authority must be held accountable and take responsibility for their actions. Confronting abuse of authority is the responsibility of every member of a society. But that’s not what this article is about.

What about the struggle for authority that rages inside of me – the battle deep inside my psyche that no one ever sees – who will prevail? The part of me that resists authority and rebels? Or the part of me that surrenders to authority and accepts its teaching.

The universe sent me that cop as a teacher, just as the universe sends everything my way with an important teaching. Whether I like it or not is my choice. I can listen consciously and learn an important universal lesson, or let the battle rage on and chew up antacids.

So here is my mantra that brings me peace and safety when I experience the bite of authority, even when I judge it to be abusive:

“I remain conscious of, and surrender to the teachings of the universe while I maintain peace and love in my heart.”
“I remain conscious of, and surrender to the teachings of the universe while I maintain peace and love in my heart.”
“I remain conscious of, and surrender to the teachings of the universe while I maintain peace and love in my heart.”

I send peace and love to you especially in times when authority battles rage within.