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Hurtful Relationship Patterns and Deep Dreams

By Agnieszka Olszewska–Kaczmarek

In everyday life, we often meet people who are in relationships that bring them more suffering than benefits.  One of the parties, despite repeated injuries and a sense of unfulfillment and even unhappiness, remains in the relationship or walks away just to return in a moment.

On the other side is a partner who is addicted, notoriously fails to keep promises, and may even commit physical or psychological violence.  This partner may also cheat, mentally humiliate, and rarely if ever appreciate the other partner.

Gender Norms can Contribute to Disfunction

Gender configurations are changing and the hurtful behaviors themselves can be further strengthened by cultural patterns defining what is okay, acceptable and even desirable in the behavior of a woman or a man and what is absolutely “not appropriate”.

Entanglement can also take the form of constantly waiting for someone who is unreachable or returning in memories to someone who passed away many years earlier.  Looking at such an image from some distance, we wonder how this is possible.

The Relationship High Dream

Of course, there are many reasons for such pattern developments: the family home, economic dependence, low self-esteem, cultural messages, lack of contact with one’s own feelings and needs, guilt etc.  One of the elements of this puzzle, to which Processwork draws attention, is the high dream (a term coined by the founder of the method, Dr Arnold Mindell).

Simply put, in the context of relationships, this is our deepest vision of the desired relationship.  Each and every one of us has our own unique version of such a dream relationship.  For one person, it will be a constant mutual motivation for development; many hours of intellectual discussions and trips to the mountains.  For another, raising children together and mutual daily care.

Someone may dream of emotional quarrels followed by equally fiery sexual intercourse.  There are as many relationship high dreams as there are people in the world, and each of these dreams is a complex mosaic of behaviors, features and moods that we deeply desire.

The High Dream Points to Our Deepest Needs

A high dream is connected with our deepest needs, which is why it is an integral part of ourselves, and it demands fulfillment.  When we fall in love, we often attribute the object of our feelings with the characteristics of our dream.

Someone has a strong presence or personality or dream figure and we associate it with care and providing us with a sense of security.  Someone else smiles impishly and we can already see through our imagination how we run together lightly in a meadow away from all the world’s problems.  We get gifts or compliments and we are filled with a sense of importance and uniqueness.

In some relationships the bond deepens over time, in others the initial incentives disappear in the face of disproportionately more frequent injuries.  The need for love, the desire to fulfill the deep dream that we carry in the middle of our soul can cause us to persistently stick to the person with whom our dream emerged.

Exaggerating the Positive

We focus excessive attention on a positive event, exaggerating its significance, while ignoring a whole series of negative experiences.  We consciously or unconsciously choose to ignore, overlook or rationalize obvious red flags.  A bouquet of flowers given in the morning cancels another multi-day drinking binge.  A nice text message annuls weeks
of silence.  It may also be that there is nothing good any more, but we believe that if we try harder, the dream will come true.

Therapy Using the High Dream

Therapy can help you explore relationship high dreams and get closer to their realization.  In the process of building a satisfying life, it is often important to stand firmly and embrace our high dream.  If we fully recognize that we deserve good experiences, it is easier for us to consciously assess whether what we desire really happens in reality.

On this path we will probably meet beliefs that stand in opposition to our high dream: “There are no such sensitive men.”  “I’m too old.”  “The role of a woman is to sacrifice,” etc.

Memories of negative experiences from our first relationships with caretakers may come back.  The therapeutic process helps heal old wounds and build new, favorable mental, emotional and psychological patterns.

Embodying our own High Dream

At the same time, and sometimes surprisingly so, we discover many of these beautiful features that we attribute to others are parts of ourselves.  These areas are ones that have long demanded to come to our awareness.  In this way, we also become a fulfilled dream about ourselves.

 

By Agnieszka Olszewska–Kaczmarek, MA, MAPOF

Agnieszka Olszewska – Kaczmarek is a psychologist and psychotherapist.  She completed her master’s in Processwork at the Process Work Institute in 2020.  She lives in Poland and works in a psychiatric hospital for children and teenagers and at the Center For Women Rights and has a private practice.  Agnieszka is also a singer-songwriter, performing under her stage name Back To The Ocean.

Learn more about Agnieszka’s therapy practice:

https://agnieszkatherapy.webnode.com

https://www.facebook.com/AgnieszkaOK.ProcessWork

And hear some of her music:

https://www.reverbnation.com/backtotheocean

This article first appeared in Polish at Psycheexpert.pl  on 4/23/20.  This English version was edited by MaryJo Radosevich, MBA.

Photo Credit: Maria Orlova https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-multiracial-women-leaning-to-each-other-4906336/

Case Supervision with Arny Mindell January 2021

Join Arny Mindell for Support, Understanding and/or Insights into Your Work with Individuals, Relationships, or Groups.

Find out more and register online

This class provides individual case supervision to support both inner development and outer work of participants working with people or groups on any situation including severe illness and near death, one to one, family, and organizational scenes.
January 22nd, 2021
6:30 – 9:30pm Pacific
Livestream and Audio Recording
Class fee $65
***This class is included in the Discover Processwork January Intensive.  No need to register separately if you are attending one or both weeks.***
Financial Equity Options available
Please choose the rate that is fair for you by using these discount codes at checkout:
Rate 1 $65  By Jan 8th $58.50 – code: EarlyRegArny
Rate 2 $45.50 –  code: FinEQ
Rate 3 $26 –  code: FinEQ3

Discover Processwork – Online Intensive Jan 16-28, 2021

Discover Processwork – Online Intensive Jan 16-28, 2021

tools for personal and collective transformation


experiential –  online – immersive

online only ~ live and recordings

For anyone looking for a transformational, experiential introduction to the ideas, practices and range of Processwork tools for personal and collective transformation.

Find out all about the intensive and how to register: 

Week 1: January 16-22 

https://online.processwork.edu/course/introintensive2021

Week 2: January 22-28

https://online.processwork.edu/course/introintensive2021wk2  

Register for both weeks – bundle and save 

 

Week 1: January 16-22, 10am-1pm PST

Jan. 16th: New Introduction to Process Oriented Psychology, Arny and Amy Mindell (start at 9:30am for welcome)

Jan. 17th: Process Work with Dreams, Salome Schwarz

Jan. 18th: Big Medicine: Process Work with Body Symptoms, Pierre Morin

Jan. 19th: Chronic Symptoms and Childhood Dreams, Suzette Payne

Jan. 20th: The Creativity of Your Dreaming Process, Amy Mindell

Jan. 21st: Group Closure: Group Process, Inner Work and Open Seat, Lily Vassiliou

 

**Jan. 22nd 6:30-9:30pm: Case Supervision for All: Support, Understanding And/Or Insights Into Your Work With Individuals, Relationships or Groups, Arny Mindell. This class will also be open to the public. If you would like to present a case, please send Arny one sentence about the situation at moreinfo@aamindell.net.

 

Week 2: January 22-28, 3-6pm PST

Jan. 23rd: Introduction to Relationships, Lane Arye (start at 2:30pm for welcome)

Jan. 24th: Nuts and Bolts of Group Process, Bill Say

Jan. 25th: Relationships, Conflict and Power, Jan Dworkin

Jan. 26th: Group Process: Edges and Hotspots, Emetchi

Jan. 27th: Relationship Dreaming, Gary Reiss

Jan. 28th: Group Closure: Group Process, Inner Work and Open Seat, Dawn Menken

Intervening in Racism; Key to Cultural Change

As Black America stands up and refuses to take any more government licensed brutality, joined by other people of color and white allies, all of us are called to assess our values and what we contribute to immanent cultural change.  Over the past four years, I have been pessimistic about the direction of that change.  Now, the abundant energy of the Black Lives Matter protests, fueled by the financial deprivation and confinement of the Covid crisis (which disproportionately hits African and Native Americans) gives me real hope.

Racism

Racial oppression, beginning with colonialism, genocide and slavery, and continuing with mass incarceration of people of color today, is an integral part of US and global culture.  It shares common roots with all the scourges of our world: misogyny and rape culture, homo-and-transphobia, capitalist greed and poverty, cultural genocide, ableism and environmental destruction.  It is far broader than the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others.  Everyday racism, from physical violence to microaggressions that white people don’t notice on systemic and personal levels, is a constant pressure on people of color.  It is a massive public health crisis.

Racism has been with us a long time.  It is taking, and will continue to take, a lot of work to uproot and change.  White people need to step up more, face our responsibility and work harder for that change.

Cultural Myths

C.G. Jung worked with individuals on lifelong patterns through the lens of a life-myth, symbolized in an early dream or memory.  In Processwork, we also apply this to groups, organizations and whole cultures.

Our cultural myths appear in the stories we tell.  Novels, movies and songs can be seen as our collective nighttime dreams, while the bigger tales; religious texts and origin stories are symbolic of our cultural trajectory.

Old Stories

In the oldest stories, humans are part of nature.  Other species have equal importance, and spirit is present and inseparable from the material world.  Native American nations of the southwest tell how Coyote creates the world.  In the northwest it is Raven, who also brings light.  In Indigenous Australian wisdom Dreamtime gives rise to our reality, co-created by animals, plants and rocks.  Nature is sacred, and humans are dependent on her.  Ancient Celtic stories, and old stories from African and Asian countries contain a similar profound reverence for all life.

The essence experience of wonder about existence, the awe and understanding that another being – whether flower or human – is as amazing as ourselves, is key.  When we live from this place, debasement and impersonal violence are not possible.

Myths That Disconnect Us

In contrast, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic story of Genesis places humans above nature and separates out spirit and wonder.  Many interpret Adam’s stewardship of other species as license or even a mandate to use, abuse and destroy.  Too often white people extend this to humans they see as different from themselves.

The elevation of white European style culture over nature and other peoples can also be understood from the many stories where a Christian figure destroys a wild beast.  These stories include Beowulf and Grendel, St George and the Dragon, and St Patrick expelling the snakes.

Until recently, science hasn’t given us a better alternative.  Our current materialism tells a sterile story of the big bang and a meaningless, chemical origin of life.  It’s a short step from this to nihilism and apathy.  Senseless consumerism and numbing to disaster and harm to others are not a necessary consequence of scientific materialism, but without dedication to humanist ethics, it is where many of us live.

New Return to Old Wisdom

It’s time for a new cultural myth, or return to old and indigenous ones.  There is room to reinterpret Genesis as God entrusting humans with responsibility to care for nature, not dominate her.  Christians can refocus on Christ’s actual core message; equality and love for all.

Quantum science and many psychologies are re-centering consciousness in our understanding of life.  Reflecting back wisdom present in Indian traditions for thousands of years, as well as indigenous knowledge the world over, new science tells us consciousness is the foundation of existence.

If we choose to live and relate from knowing all things are conscious, we will have a wondrous relationship to everything.  It will be much harder to cut off our innate sense of empathy, the curiosity and sense of connection that all children show.

We need to adopt global cultural myths that guide us to actively care what other people experience.

Practical Tools

On a more practical level, Processwork also gives us tools for understanding and working with the roles present in oppression.  These roles are similar whether on a systemic level, in a specific situation, or even within an individual.

Roles

The roles of oppression are victim, perpetrator and witness.  In systemic racism, those roles are inhabited by people of color, white supremacy groups including corrupt police and other agencies, and the public and political systems.  It is not enough that only people of color and some white people bear witness and understand racial oppression.  All white people need to shoulder our responsibility, be present and make change.

When the witness goes beyond observing and intervenes in the abuse, they change the whole story and shift us from the myth of disconnection into our essence of caring for all life.  They connect us to our new and ancient myths and create sustainable cultural change.

Role Transformation

As the witness tranforms into the intervener – and in the case of systemic oppression the public and political systems are by far the most powerful part – the oppression is halted.  The victim role can begin to transform to the thriver, and the perpetrator also has the opportunity to change.  If they decide to, the perpetrator can use their power for the common good instead of against it.  St. George, instead of slaying the dragon can choose to be a noble protector.

Inner Roles

These roles also live inside us as internalized oppression.  In her excellent TED talk, Zed Xaba describes working on internalized racial oppression.

White people who work to be allies also have racist parts inside us, as well as our own internal oppression, which comes out unconsciously and harms people of color.  We have to do our inner work too.

Inside the white supremacist, these roles also play themselves out.  It is traumatic to teach a child to hate other humans.  The adult that child becomes must continuously oppress their innate sensitivity to maintain that hate.

Change is Coming

In this moment, as I hear helicopters again over the protests in the city of Portland, our cultural witness role has stepped into the intervener against systemic racism.

Everyday people are flooding the streets of 430 US cities and many other cities worldwide in sustained response to the brutal murder of George Floyd.  Many city and local governments are responding to this call.  Our current federal government may not be able to hear, care or shift, but as described in the Chinese classic the I Ching, in times of change, what is too rigid will eventually break.

 

Take Action:

Please consider donating to Black Lives Matter, or to a local organization such as Don’t Shoot Portland

Support black owned businesses countrywide and local to Portland

Further Resources:

Join this online anti-racism training by Raggi Kotak, Challenging the Dynamics of Racism

Learn about racism as a public health crisis at Right to Health

Learn about internalized oppression from Zed Xaba

Reading and other resources, and other organizations to support can be found here, here and here

 

 

by Elva Redwood, MA, PW Dipl., Managing Editor

Elva Wolf Redwood is a Processwork Diplomate practicing with individuals, couples and organizations in Portland, Oregon, USA, and on-line.  They are a writer and a lover of dogs, fermented foods and knitting.  They repeatedly commit to intervening in oppression of all kinds, wherever they find it, and to work on climate justice.  They are drawn particularly to work with artists, activists, culture changers and anyone addressing developmental trauma.

Pronouns: them/they/their

elvaredwood.com

Deep in your heart, deep in the quietness of the night, your grandest visions include hope for the future of humanity and the planet earth. Formulate those grand visions now …

After thinking of these visions, consider how you can model them in all that you do.  Imagine right now using your vision, and see yourself modeling it.

 

Amplify your vision with the following ‘addition’: n

ature moves us; our job is to make these movements conscious and useful. Dreams and emotions, love and anger happen.

 

Our job is to guide these feelings so that they enrich our own and everybody else’s life, the life of all sentient beings. This ‘addition’ to your vision implies that life itself is a sacred event, even though it sometimes seems impossible.

 

Life is not just a problem, but a kind of spiritual fighting ring, a temple requiring your utmost ability and wisdom. Nothing less than the grandest part of you is needed in an ultimate situation. The present moment is an opportunity, not only a threatening catastrophe.

 

Amy and Arnold Mindell. (2003). Short recipe for resolving conflict crises. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1), 64–68.

Why Manifestation Doesn’t Always Work: A Process Perspective

By Jeanell Innerarity

If you’ve engaged in personal growth work in the last fifteen years, you’ve probably dabbled in “manifestation.”  Manifestation hit the mainstream with the 2006 release of the documentary The Secret, which featured celebrities, philosophers, and even scientists talking about how they create their own reality by acting like it’s already real.  The movie claims that some of society’s biggest names have used this “secret” to get to ahead, and the rest of us can do the same.

Life is more Complex

If tuning in to the vibration of our goals is the only thing between us and our ideal reality, then why aren’t we there yet?  Did some of us stick the wrong images on our vision boards?  How come manifestation sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t?  I believe the missing piece in this conversation is PROCESS!

Process, if you know how to track it, is no secret.  The word “process” can be a noun or a verb and applies in many contexts, but it always implies that something is emerging naturally from what came before it.  As a Processworker, I track process by noticing what is more obvious or consciously known (primary), and facilitating opportunities for the less known (secondary) aspects of awareness to emerge.

The Secondary Process

How do I apply this when a client comes to me and says they want to “manifest” something?  The term manifestation gives me a clue: there’s a primary aspect of their awareness which has a goal, and a secondary aspect which has another plan entirely!

A client once came to me with enormous career goals.  Already the leader of an international organization, they wanted to manifest more power, money, and status.  However, they were exhausted.  Their shoulders were tied up in knots.  Their relationship and libido suffered.  They had been betrayed in a business deal and felt unable to trust.  Their primary process was success, but their secondary process was rest. 

What they thought they wanted to manifest was one-sided and oversimplified; it did not honor the complexity of their life and character, and was impossible to maintain without serious consequence.  When you marginalize significant aspects of your experience in order to manifest something, the secondary aspects of your process will eventually sabotage your efforts!

All the Isms

But what if what you’re honoring your full experience, yet you keep running into roadblocks?  When clients describe this scenario, I often find that classism, racism, homophobia, or other institutionalized biases are at play.  A person tries to manifest their dreams, and the world pushes back against them.

Does this mean they can’t get there?  Absolutely not!  With these clients (and within myself) I bring to light the process of internalized oppression—the way in which we repeat to ourselves the same critical and dangerous stories the world has fed us.  In this case, we must first fight the inner oppressor and pick up its power for ourselves!  The outside world may not immediately change, but when we stop agreeing with its insidious and abusive voices we can act with more confidence and at least avoid self-sabotage.  After we’ve laid a foundation for a less hurtful inner dialogue, we can strategize about how to take action, build alliances, and even change systems in the wider world.

If you experience societal oppression and believe—as many do—that manifesting your dreams is based solely on your own ability to visualize, then you will feel like a personal failure every time your dreams don’t come true.  In this case, the culture of manifestation becomes abusive; it tells people that the big isms—sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, etc.—are easy to overcome, thus erasing the pain, challenge, and grief of someone’s experience.  Not fertile soil for manifestation!

You Can’t Go Against Your Needs

It’s also nearly impossible to manifest an intention which overrides a fundamental need.  A classic example shows up in the field of weight loss.  How many millions of people have spent billions of dollars trying to lose weight, only to fail at the outset or gain back more than they lost?  If you eat to “be big” or take up space, to feel safe in your body, to feel free of the sexual gaze, or to experience comfort, then no amount of focusing on thinness will manifest your vision until you can feel these things on your own terms.  Additionally, the cultural emphasis on weight loss is a type of social oppression all its own, so it’s important to explore why you might want to lose weight in the first place.

Your True Nature

And finally, there’s destiny.  Processwork proposes that we each have a unique path in life: a certain type of trajectory, tendency, and dreaming process which shows up in our earliest childhood dream (or memory) and cycles back throughout our lives.  A sort of personal myth.  To harness the power of that myth is to live out your destiny!

In my earliest childhood dream, I disturb the status quo and wake up terrified of my own power.  Predictably, when I try to conform to the mainstream in my waking life it comes back to bite me;  it’s against my nature, which is to use my power to wake people up!  I can’t manifest something lasting if it isn’t “me;” when I’m true to who I am, extraordinary things manifest themselves in my favor.

Because of the impact of the secondary process, societal oppression, unmet needs, and personal destiny, manifestation doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does!  Sometimes, with astonishing quickness and accuracy, you wish for something and get what you wanted.  Is that just dumb luck?  Maybe occasionally!  More often, I’d say it’s akin to “going with the flow.”  When you learn to track and unfold your own process, when you align your choices with your true nature, and when you notice and act on synchronicities, you get out of your own way.  When you honor your needs and take back the power of the internalized oppressor, you open up possibilities for the intelligent universe to shower you with blessings!  It’s just that those blessings might look nothing like what you intended to manifest….

By Jeanell Innerarity, MAPOF, LMT (#22490)

Jeanell Innerarity facilitates personal healing with global impact.  She specializes in integrative work to help clients better understand their personal power through the lenses of ancestry, Earth connection, and somatic awareness.  She is the Founder and CEO of The EcoSpiritual Education Center LLC, where she provides group workshops, one-on-one counseling, and online education focused on personal development interwoven with ecological and social sustainability.  She holds an MA in Process Oriented Facilitation, a BA in Environmental Studies, is certified in Permaculture and Ecovillage Design, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist.  She recently completed her first novel.

Learn more about Jeanell’s work at Ecospiritual Education

Image credit: Jeanell Innerarity

TRU 2020 (July 13-17, 2020)

This 5-day intensive workshop is for teens aged 14-18 who want to develop their leadership capacity, build new friendships, impact their communities, and have fun doing it!

Teens will engage in creative activities to increase personal power, find their unique gifts, build communication skills, strengthen relationship and facilitate conflict within themselves and in groups.

We support youth in their own leadership by teaching them to believe in their innate creativity, to appreciate internal and external diversity and to forge real relationships across differences. We teach them the skills they will need in order to recognize, work with and resolve conflict.

TRU Youth Leadership Intensive July 13-17, 2020

Download (PDF, 83KB)

Upcoming Courses

Please take a look at our upcoming courses. https://www.processwork.edu/upcoming-courses/

Click to select a category:

Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

Join Dawn Menken for Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

These free one-hour classes will present a Process Work approach to working with a variety of themes that emerge in our lives and in private practice. These short sessions are meant to introduce the public to a variety of Process Work applications but will also include ideas that can enhance learning for students and practitioners. These drop-in classes will occur monthly on-line.

First Thursday of each month

5:30-6:30pm Pacific Time

Online @ https://zoom.us/j/417364317

April 2 – Engaging with Dying, Death and Grief

Dawn Menken, Ph.D., is a conflict resolution educator, counselor, facilitator, and workshop presenter. She is a senior faculty member in the graduate program at the Process Work Institute in Portland, Oregon and was co-creator of its masters programs, serving as academic dean for ten years. She is the creator of Teens Rise Up (TRU), a cutting edge program that empowers and educates young people to step into their leadership, engage in honest dialogue, and co-create a more welcoming school community. She is the author of the award winning book, Raising Parents Raising Kids: Hands on Wisdom for the Next Generation. A dynamic teacher with a sharp mind and playful spirit, Dawn enjoys working with people from all cultures and backgrounds.  For more information see her website: www.dawnmenken.com

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