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"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

So Why Exactly are You Still in That Relationship?


It all started so brilliantly. You were so very much in love. Your partner was just what you had been looking for, for so very long, and you felt so fortunate to have found him/her. You realized just how incredible he/she was, especially – so you told yourself – once he/she got out of his own way to see his/her own magnificence. And you knew; you absolutely knew, that you would give him/her so much love that he/she would eventually also recognize it.

Another brilliant start to a love relationship is when you realize – in that state of incipient love – that life has become so incredibly wonderful since he/she entered your life. You can feel how much better everything – simply everything – is, since the two of you became a couple. When you are with him/her you just exist on another level, than when you are apart. And that of course – or so you believe – proves that this is truly love.

Somewhere along the line, in either of the above scenarios – and multiple others – you become disillusioned, perhaps resentful, perhaps afraid, sad, angry, and you experience a rollercoaster of many other emotions. Somehow, things are not where you thought they would be.

All of the above is not tremendously unusual, and yet many couples stay together for years, even decades, sometimes even longer than half a century, long after the children have fled the nest (which is frequently the apparent cause for remaining together), and so of course the question has to be posed: why exactly are you still in that relationship?

Pay close attention to the next bit: what are you telling yourself about all of this? In other words, what is your self-dialogue when you are faced with the fact that the relationship is truly not what you thought it would be? Because it is in the depth of this (generally not terribly conscious) self-dialogue of yours that you can begin to see what keeps you there. Here are some examples:
  • If only he/she could see himself/herself the way I do, then he/she would be that incredible person I just know he/she could be. This is a movie that you have played over and over in your mind. The movie never shows reality as it actually is – it only shows where you take your wishful thoughts, sometimes decades after your ‘script’ still has not shown any proof of it taking place
  • How can I possibly live without him/her? This script, while not quite a movie, is nevertheless something that you keep telling yourself due to your need for the person that you feel you are unable to leave. What you can’t – yet – conceive is that life could actually be much better and filled with much greater well-being, if this person were indeed out of your life.
  • The main reason he/she behaves this way with me is because I haven’t yet been able to show him/her how great my love is, or how wonderful life could be if he/she could see him/herself through my eyes. In this script you are blind to your completely unhealthy boundaries and are allowing him/her to treat you in totally unacceptable ways, and convincing yourself of the fact that this is all OK, because it is on YOU. I.e., in your mind, it is your responsibility that he/she behaves this way.
  • All he/she has to do is to make those few little changes, and then everything would be perfect. In this script you are ‘blaming’ the other for the lack of success of the relationship, and in the blaming, are removing any and all vestiges of responsibility on your part for not either changing the parts of you that need changing, or in simply saying ‘that’s enough!’ and leaving. Understand me correctly … what you blame the other for might be valid, but it’s not about that, but rather, about the fact that by looking at his/her faults, you get to absolve yourself of responsibility about your own. This is a dangerous script, because you become complacent in your ‘knowledge’ of the other’s faults, and so you do nothing … other than think about or remark on the faults.
People contact me from all over the globe about numerous issues, but precisely this one occurs more frequently than most. People are in pain. People can’t believe how it is that they can be treated in this or that fashion, and want solace, but evidently if I am going to help someone, it’s not so much by offering solace, although that is also part of the equation, as it is about holding the mirror up to their face, and asking them to look inside. Not because anything is necessarily their fault, but it is only by changing the self, that the outer circumstance will truly also change.

How is this done? Once again, for those of you who have been reading these articles every month since 2006: you need to become conscious. By being conscious of your thoughts and feelings as they occur, you can begin to change what you are telling yourself – that self-dialogue I mentioned before. And as you change the inner chatter, you begin to see yourself and life, not to mention your partner and your circumstances, in different ways. And you will begin to find an inner freedom you may not have ever felt before.

Also read:


***************


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See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Fatherless Women & Motherless Men





Now Available
"Fatherless Women & Motherless Men"

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***************

See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts




Now Available
"Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts"

Click HERE for the rate of US 15

**************************************************

See the preview (click below) to my online on-demand video course  




  NOW available

"Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin"


  *****************************

CHARLAS EN ESPAÑOL EN YOUTUBE


Vampiros energéticos: Su efecto destructivo en tu vida



En YouTube aquí


****************************


BOOKS - LIBROS - BÜCHER


Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books (also in Spanish & German). My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is available globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.


Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English). Available globally in paperback or Kindle e-book versions


Bücher von Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (Deutsch) ... JETZT bei Amazon (Taschenbuch oder E-Book) erhältlich 
DEINE SEELE UND DU
  

Angefangen mit Rewiring the Soul - auf Deutsch: Deine Seele und Du, jetzt weltweit erhältlich als Taschenbuch oder Kindle E-Book (Blog hier), werden auch meine anderen Bücher in Zukunft auf Deutsch bei Amazon erhältlich sein.

Libros por Gabriella Kortsch (español) ... ahora en todo el mundo en Amazon en versión bolsillo y Kindle



Note: Also see my other other blog The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed. 

My blog posts are also featured on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest & you can find me on Instagram 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Empathy vs Altruistic Love & Compassion


Do you feel the suffering of others? Do you suffer when others experience emotional pain? Are you able to put yourself in their shoes as they go through an agonizing process of deep anguish? Can you sometimes pick up on what others are feeling as you come into their presence (or simply as you hear their voice on the phone) and then really live – in some figurative fashion – what they are going through?

Would it surprise you – or perhaps even affront you – if I told you that having such deep empathic feelings for another is of little real use to them and mainly serves to deplete you? (Although perhaps it simultaneously makes you feel good about yourself, even though it has drained you, because you are actively empathizing with someone going through a distressful situation). Would you protest and tell me that this is how a good and loving and kind person behaves? Would you perhaps accuse me of being cold and unfeeling for even posing such questions?

This topic has been close to my heart for many years. Long before I became a psychotherapist I knew that almost all health professionals – from doctors to massage therapists, nurses and social workers, technicians, home-based caretakers (both those who do this as a job, as well as those who are the caretaker of a family member or friend), crisis workers, acupuncturists, and psychiatrists, not to mention the ‘talk therapy’ people, such as myself, and so many others, in such a wide scope of different fields, all too frequently suffer from burn out.

Matthieu Ricard, a world-renowned Buddhist monk, and author of Altruism, speaks of stand-alone empathy, as well as empathy that is not stand-alone and that forms part of a greater model within compassion and love:

Affective, emotional, or cognitive empathy is to resonate with someone else’s mental state: if someone is happy or joyful, you also feel joyful, and if someone is sad, you also feel sad, and if someone suffers, you also really suffer. You literally try to put yourself in their shoes, imagining what they are thinking and feeling. That is a state of mind. And it is a “stand-alone” empathy, as Ricard puts it. It leads to burn-out. In the United Sates 60% of all medical personnel have or will suffer from burn-out. I highly doubt that the statistics for other countries are better.

This stand-alone empathy needs to be part of something much more global, broader, and wider. It must be part of altruistic love and compassion. All of us, and very particularly those who care for others, whether in the healing professions, or as caretakers, and in so many other arenas where people help others - need to be able to cultivate love and compassion (for the other) within which empathy has a place, in order to be able to deal with the burn-out effects of stand-alone empathy.
Looking at several recent situations that hit the world media, we can show how empathy can affect you quite differently than loving compassion, and at the same time, show how important compassion is:
  • In the Orlando shooting at a gay bar, many of us could easily say that prior to the shooting, we empathized with the LGBT community due to the continual prejudice, homophobia, and ostracizing it has faced historically. This kind of empathy is very important, because without it, we are unable to place ourselves in another’s shoes. During and immediately after the shooting, if we remained on the purely empathic level, we would have suffered a great deal, simply because we continued on that stand-alone level Ricard mentions. But, if you add loving compassion into the equation, it is not that you don’t care, but that you care in another way. You wish for their suffering to stop, and you will do what you can to alleviate it, but you realize that your desire for their suffering to stop does not require you to suffer as well – more importantly – you recognize that if you suffer as well, you will be much less able to give a helping hand and to support those in need, because you may soon reach a point where you¸ too, will need help (due to your own burn out).
  • In the murder of Jo Cox, the British MP who was stabbed and shot in front of her offices a few days before the UK voted to leave the EU or stay, prior to the shooting, if we knew of her, we may have empathized with her role as MP, wife, and mother, as well as admired what she was doing. This kind of empathy would not cause us to suffer – it’s simply something that allows us to imagine ourselves in another’s shoes. Immediately after the shooting, when the news hit the airwaves, if we remained on the purely empathic level, we would have suffered (thinking of her life cut short, her young children, etc.), simply because we continued on that stand-alone level Ricard mentions. But, if you add loving compassion into the equation, it is not that you don’t care, but that you care in another way. You wish for their suffering to stop, and you will do what you can to alleviate it, but you realize that your desire for their suffering to stop does not require you to suffer as well – more importantly – you recognize that if you suffer as well, you will be much less able to give a helping hand and to support those in need, because you may soon reach a point where you¸ too, will need help (due to your own burn out).
In Ricard’s words: “Altruistic love turns into compassion when confronted with the suffering of others. Compassion is the wish that others may be free from suffering and its causes. For this to happen, we must be concerned about the fate of the other, be aware of their sufferings, wish that these be healed, and be ready to do whatever is possible to do so.”

In light of the above examples, let’s examine research spear-headed by western neuroscientists collaborating with Buddhist monks (including the afore-mentioned Ricard). One such study, under the direction of Tania Singer, Ph.D. - world-renowned expert on empathy – at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, undertook to investigate the functional neural plasticity of empathy and compassion. The study wanted to examine how empathy and compassion affect the brain and the state of being – the well-being - of participants. Seasoned meditators were observed in real-time MRI’s and it became very clear that they suffered when they focused on feeling empathic alone. Ricard himself relates that when he was meditating as instructed, Singer stopped him after 10 minutes, asking him what he was doing, as the results were not those she was accustomed to. He replied that he had been meditating on loving kindness and compassion. She asked him to meditate only on empathy. Somewhat reluctantly he agreed and focused on a heart-wrenching documentary he had seen the day before about Romanian orphans. He states that after one hour he was totally burned out, resonating with their distress, feeling powerless. As time came to break for lunch Singer asked Ricard if he wanted to eat or move to his compassion meditation, and he chose the latter with alacrity, saying he simply couldn’t stand it anymore. He says that as he did so it was like the breaking of a dam, with an outpouring of love and affection – “every atom of suffering was filled with an atom of love” – and that he felt much stronger, simply not to be compared with the earlier feelings of empathic distress.

The two kinds of relating: empathy and compassion – gave two completely different neural results and resulted in two completely different feeling states. Ricard describes the difference like night and day. The study was replicated with other subjects and Singer’s resulting paper demonstrates that completely different neural networks come into play for empathic distress compared to loving kindness and compassion meditation. The latter is a much more positive network of affiliation, love, wholesomeness and reward, and positive affect, applied to suffering in a constructive way.

Steps to Learning Loving-Kindness Compassion Mindfulness Meditation

This can rewire your brain.
  • Take 10-15 minutes every day to sit quietly.
  • Send compassionate and loving thoughts to family and friends
  • Then to an individual with whom you have disagreement, conflict, or tension
  • Then the same to strangers all over the world who are suffering
  • Finally, send compassionate, forgiving, and self-loving thoughts to yourself


***************


VIDEO COURSES IN ENGLISH


See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Fatherless Women & Motherless Men





Now Available
"Fatherless Women & Motherless Men"

Click HERE for the rate of US 15


***************

See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts




Now Available
"Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts"

Click HERE for the rate of US 15

**************************************************

See the preview (click below) to my online on-demand video course  




  NOW available

"Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin"


  *****************************

CHARLAS EN ESPAÑOL EN YOUTUBE


Vampiros energéticos: Su efecto destructivo en tu vida



En YouTube aquí


****************************


BOOKS - LIBROS - BÜCHER


Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books (also in Spanish & German). My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is available globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.


Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English). Available globally in paperback or Kindle e-book versions


Bücher von Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (Deutsch) ... JETZT bei Amazon (Taschenbuch oder E-Book) erhältlich 
DEINE SEELE UND DU
  

Angefangen mit Rewiring the Soul - auf Deutsch: Deine Seele und Du, jetzt weltweit erhältlich als Taschenbuch oder Kindle E-Book (Blog hier), werden auch meine anderen Bücher in Zukunft auf Deutsch bei Amazon erhältlich sein.

Libros por Gabriella Kortsch (español) ... ahora en todo el mundo en Amazon en versión bolsillo y Kindle



Note: Also see my other other blog The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed. 

My blog posts are also featured on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest & you can find me on Instagram 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Reaching Towards What You (Still) Might Become


Have you ever wondered about the you that might have been if you had studied archaeology instead of law? Or if you had married John instead of Richard, or Melanie instead of Liz? Or how about the you that might have been if you had taken up that rather challenging and even frightening opportunity to lead a team of investors of your firm, but it meant moving to India? Or how about the you that might have been if you had never taken that first step down a road of ever-increasing prevarications or even outright lies? Or how about the you that might have been if you had cared more about how your profession made you feel, rather than about the amount of money it put into your bank account?
Such questions generally come later in life rather than earlier. They come as we look back over the trajectory we’ve traversed, and begin asking ourselves how we stand with regards to what we’ve accomplished and what our intrinsic reaction to all of it is. They may not be questions and thoughts we share with many or even anyone at all. And yet they are there, in our hearts, our minds, our souls. And we may grieve that which we did not do, wishing we had taken other decisions, or, at best, wondering how and who we might be, had we done things differently.

My take on this is very optimistic. I firmly believe that it is never too late to make changes that take you down a road you may now wish you had taken earlier. Whether that road represents what you do, how you think, or what you believe, I am convinced that it is totally in your hands to make these changes, no matter in which part of your life your find yourself. Young, middle-aged, old … it is simply never too late.

Why do I say this? I believe that it is not the specificity of what you left out of your life that is as significant as the essence of what that implied. The essence I am referring to, comprises the parts of you – the crucial parts of you - that would be different, had you followed that other road. Or at least, that would be different as far as you are able to determine in hindsight. And of course that most frequently implies an inner orientation, a way of being that would have been influenced by having lived that other life.

Therefore, if you are able to visualize … even if only tenuously … what might have been; that inner orientation, or way of being that would be different … you are, in my way of seeing it, already halfway there. What this means is that you already have the inner capacity to create that inner change, no matter what your choices have been thus far.

In practice, this means – and again, this is my view – that you are able to bring new life into your life by working on your inner world, because that is often the part of you that fell by the wayside due to decisions made earlier on the subjects that you are now pondering. Working on your inner world can be an immensely satisfying and enriching bit of business. Begin taking up – for example – some of the following practices in order to take you in that incalculably valuable direction:
  • The most primordial and life-changing practice you could foment is that of becoming as fully conscious of yourself as you possibly can. The way I generally recommend is to take up mindfulness – a waking meditation that can be practised at any time and at all hours – that is very simple to learn (see Mindfulness: Change Your Life With This 15-Minute Daily Exercise)
  • As you become aware of yourself, you will become aware of your thoughts, feelings, reactions, and actions much more rapidly than you may ever have done. This means you will be able to change your self-dialogue about whatever it is that is happening in your mind, heart, and soul … if you practice doing so.
  • As you change your self-dialogue, you will begin to see yourself in ways that are different in a far-reaching manner as opposed to the you that you were accustomed to seeing.
  • This will lead you to make changes in those near-automatic parts of yourself that you were not paying attention to at another time of your life, in order to become someone you might like to have as a friend
  • All of this leads to self-love, a crucially necessary ingredient to leading a good life.
  • That again leads to creating healthier boundaries.
  • It also leads to self-regulation management in ways with which you may not be familiar.
  • That in turn leads to inner peace and harmony.
  • And that in turn leads to loving kindness and compassion.
This is not a fairy tale, nor the unrealistic dream of an overt idealist. This is possible for all of us to achieve. It does require commitment and practice. It’s a gradual process that responds – just as a plant does – to careful tending and gentle nourishing. It also requires a desire to go there, and a realization that it is this kind of work on yourself that could lead you to that evanescent you that you might (still) become.



***************


VIDEO COURSES IN ENGLISH


See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Fatherless Women & Motherless Men





Now Available
"Fatherless Women & Motherless Men"

Click HERE for the rate of US 15


***************

See the preview (click the image) to my online video course:
Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts




Now Available
"Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts"

Click HERE for the rate of US 15

**************************************************

See the preview (click below) to my online on-demand video course  




  NOW available

"Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin"


  *****************************

CHARLAS EN ESPAÑOL EN YOUTUBE


Vampiros energéticos: Su efecto destructivo en tu vida



En YouTube aquí


****************************


BOOKS - LIBROS - BÜCHER


Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books (also in Spanish & German). My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is available globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.


Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English). Available globally in paperback or Kindle e-book versions


Bücher von Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (Deutsch) ... JETZT bei Amazon (Taschenbuch oder E-Book) erhältlich 
DEINE SEELE UND DU
  

Angefangen mit Rewiring the Soul - auf Deutsch: Deine Seele und Du, jetzt weltweit erhältlich als Taschenbuch oder Kindle E-Book (Blog hier), werden auch meine anderen Bücher in Zukunft auf Deutsch bei Amazon erhältlich sein.

Libros por Gabriella Kortsch (español) ... ahora en todo el mundo en Amazon en versión bolsillo y Kindle



Note: Also see my other other blog The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed. 

My blog posts are also featured on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest & you can find me on Instagram