Love, Lust and the Longing for God

The final book in the Longing series is now available — combining the complete text of my three previous books. It is a powerful tool for personal transformation.

In The Secret of Emotions I explained how to understand the spiritual meaning behind our emotional sensations and offered a whole new vocabulary for understanding the language of the heart. In 4 Tools of Emotional Healing I used this language to explore the healing potential of Honesty, Forgiveness, Compassion and Faith and offered practical guidance as to how to apply them to our daily lives. In Longing for Love I applied this unique understanding of emotions to the question of how to find and nurture healthy relationships, while avoiding shame-based relationships and addictive or compulsive acting out.

Now all three of these life-lessons are available in Love, Lust and the Longing for God, a single volume that will be equally useful for individuals trying to understand their life challenges and therapists trying to explain the subtleties of the healing process to their clients.

We All Have Faith in Something

We all have faith in something. The question is whether we have faith that we will succeed, or faith that we will fail; faith that the world is a safe place, or faith that it is out to get us; faith that there is meaning to our lives or faith that the universe is a great cosmic accident in which we are just a tiny blip.
We also all believe in a Transcendent Higher Power, no matter how vehemently we try to deny it. This belief began before we were even born and was reinforced every day of our lives for the duration of our emotional development.
We are born helpless and dependent upon adults who had much more power than we did. We believe, to the very core of our subconscious beings, that there is a power outside of us that is greater than we are because we experienced such a power every day of our early lives. Our feelings of helplessness and powerlessness were therefore embedded in our emotional reality at birth. They are the foundational scaffolding upon which our early emotional and intellectual world-views were built.
Our pre-verbal awareness that as infants we were subject to the whims of forces more powerful than ourselves was reinforced by at least 10-15 years of additional experiences during our childhood and youth. It would be unrealistic to think we could erase these feelings from our psyches. No matter what our head tells us, our hearts tell us that there is something bigger than us out there. It would do no good to engage in an intellectual argument with our hearts over whether or not there is a God.

If we resign ourselves to the idea that a part of us will always believe in a Higher Power, we can still do three things. First, we can accept that our hearts will always long for a source of power, strength and protection. This is not a sign of weakness; it is simply a universal aspect of the human condition.
Second, we can work to uncover what our subconscious and emotional beliefs about that Higher Power might be. We will always believe in a force bigger than ourselves, but we can wrestle some power back from it by being able to name it and describe how it has influenced us.
Finally, we can use this use this understanding to slowly redefine our Higher Power, both mentally and emotionally, to be more supportive and loving. Instead of denying or doing battle with the Higher Power we grew up with, we can transform it; educate it; turn it into the loving Force that we need it to be in our hearts.

 

Longing for Love Is Now Available

I finished the final editing of the third book in my series with a few days to spare.  It is already available through Amazon, and I will be getting a supply in a few days to sell through my company.
In other news, I’m continuing to get really touching reviews for The Secret of Emotions, like this one from Sue Woods at GoodReads:

I love this book. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It has given me so many things to think about that most self help books leave out.I am especially thankful that the chart on page 88 is in the book. I am just amazed that the author Justice Saint Rain has given the world a way to recognize our motivations. And in such easy simple ways. This is a small book with a very very big message that can be used by every human being who ever wanted to give their walk in this life a more positive spin and actually know what they are doing and why. Thank you so much Justice.
P.S. I will never be finished reading this book as I intend to keep going back to it to gauge my growth progress, encouragement and support.

Speaking of GoodReads.com, there are only a few days left in my 4 Tools of Emotional Healing give-away.  Sign up for a chance to win!

Now that all three books are done, I might finally have time to write some new blog posts.

Stay tuned!

Thanksgiving Part 2 – Gratitude and Happiness Research

If the idea that practicing virtues like gratitude can make us happy sounds more spiritual than scientific, you may be surprised to learn that the Positive Psychology Movement has some hard research to back up this claim.

The best-known research is described in the book Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. In his groundbreaking study, Seligman asked volunteers to do one of five different tasks.  At the beginning of the study, and for six months after, they also took an online happiness/depression assessment to measure their state of mind.

Of the five tasks, one was supposed to be an “inert” or “placebo” activity.  As expected, it had a small and short-lived effect on the participant’s happiness. One of the other initial activities also had a small effect that lasted slightly longer.

Three activities, however, had a significant effect on the participant’s happiness that lasted longer than expected.

In the one that had the strongest immediate effect, participants were given a week to write and then deliver a letter of gratitude – in person – to someone who had been especially kind to them but had never been properly thanked.  These people’s happiness went up dramatically right after the exercise, and then slowly returned to normal over a six month period.  (I describe the other exercises in The Secret of Emotions).

Gratitude, of course, is a core virtue, so it should not surprise anyone that such an intense expression of it would have a positive effect on a person’s feelings, but that this positive effect could last up to six months gives us reason for encouragement in our own lives.

Perhaps before this Thanksgiving, each of us should set aside some time to not only think about what we are grateful for this year, but actually write it down.  Think ahead to all of the people you expect to see at your Thanksgiving feast, and try to remember something nice they have done, or some character quality that you particularly admire, and then write it down on a card.  When it comes around to your turn to tell people what you are grateful for, instead of stumbling through a last-minute list of half-remembered, half-sincere appreciations, you can share with each person at the table exactly how much they mean to you.

I guarantee you that the time you spend on this will be remembered by both you and your family much longer than your candied yams.

The Secret of the Sensational Diet

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought now would be a good time to share my dieting secrets.  I call this plan the sensational diet because instead of focusing on the kind of foods you are allowed to eat, it focuses on the kinds of sensations that eating food generates.

You don’t have to be a hedonist to appreciate the importance of sensation in our lives. Physical sensations are what tell us that we are physically alive.  If we could not touch, taste, hear, see or smell, we would be hard-pressed to prove, even to ourselves, that we were physically alive.

Less understood, but even more important, spiritual sensations tell us that we are spiritually alive.  Without emotional sensations such as joy, sadness, enthusiasm, anger, and wonder, we could lose touch with our inner reality.  We would become spiritually dead.

The physical sensations that tell us that we are physically alive and the spiritual sensations that tell us that we are spiritually alive are experienced in similar ways.  Physical excitement and spiritual enthusiasm, physical stress and spiritual anxiety, physical hunger and spiritual emptiness – these generate parallel sensations that are difficult to distinguish.  This is because our bodies and souls were created to work together.  Consequently, we often experience spiritual emptiness as a kind of physical hunger.

All of us, to some degree or another, use the pleasurable physical sensations associated with eating food as a replacement for the spiritual sensations that are lacking in our lives.  Chocolate is a lot easier to come by than sincere love and kindness.  Though it might not really fool the soul, if the body identifies the sensation as one of comfort, the soul is willing to go along with it.  We eat, then, in order to feel spiritually alive and fulfilled.

Any diet that tries to limit the pleasurable sensations we get from eating will be interpreted by the spirit as an attempt to limit our sense of feeling alive, and is doomed to failure. Food keeps us physically alive, but diverse tastes make us feel spiritually alive because they are material reflections of the virtues of beauty, sweetness, balance, audacity and more.  If we were willing to live without these sensations, we could lose weight with the “duct tape diet” in which you can eat anything you want, but you have to put a piece of duct tape over your tongue to block out all sensations of taste and texture.  Such a diet would obviously fail because we are not willing to give up one of our primary senses just so that we can lose some weight.  Likewise, we are instinctively unwilling to give up a source of spiritual comfort in order to receive some long-term physical gain.   For a diet to work, it must not try to take away what is currently meeting a spiritual need, but rather, it must find a way to meet that need in some new and healthy way.

In other words, if we come to grips with the fact that food does not really equal love, then we can’t just take away the food.  We have to add more love. We cannot create a vacuum and expect that nothing will sweep in to fill it.  If we are feeling spiritually empty, we must first, before any change in our eating habits, find ways to fill that spiritual void.  Only then can we safely reduce the amount of physical sensations we generate through food without risking self-sabotage.  We certainly don’t want to find ourselves trying to replace both food and spiritual joy with drugs, overspending, or risky sexual behavior.  We must find the healthy replacement first, then drop the unhealthy habits, not the other way around.

The secret of the Sensational Diet, then, is to generate positive spiritual sensations through the practice of virtues so that you don’t feel compelled to create substitute physical sensations by eating comforting foods.

Sing a song, say a prayer, call a friends, throw a kiss, draw a picture, read a poem, look out the window, learn a new word, compliment a coworker, express gratitude.  There are so many good ways to feel that don’t involve your tongue.  Find your favorite.

Note: This is the introduction of a book I may or may not ever write.  I welcome your comments.

The First Step in Forgiving

I believe the most helpful step in forgiving is to receive validation that the injustice we are perceiving is real.  From a purely practical standpoint, it is impossible to forgive an injustice that has not been identified as unjust.  This is why it is so difficult to deal with dishonest and manipulative people.  They are masters at hurting us in ways we can’t put our fingers on, or finding ways to blame us for the injustices they perpetrate.  That double-whammy of being blamed for what someone else did to us is one of the things that turns anger into white-hot impotent rage.

To deal with this, or any other source of anger, find a trusted friend to whom you can describe the situation in private.  Tell them that you don’t want advice, just confirmation that what you are perceiving is valid. Before you can forgive, you first need to hear someone say “that sounds awful. That was really unfair. You have a right to be angry.”

Once you are reassured that your feelings can be trusted, only then is it safe to let them go and practice forgiveness.

Note: you need to hear that your anger is valid even if it isn’t true. You can’t see a situation clearly until the fog of anger clears, and the fog of anger will not clear as long as it is being argued with, dismissed or minimized.

This is why small fights can escalate so easily.  When both people are wrong, neither is able to see their part in the problem until the other person’s wrongs are acknowledged first. It is not so much about the other person being wrong – it is about legitimizing our experience of reality.  The most terrifying thing in the world is to fear that you can’t trust your own perception of reality.  The fear that you might be angry for no reason makes you work even harder to prove that you do have a reason.  Once someone else validates that you did have a reason to be upset, then the fear dissipates.  Then you desire for connection, understanding, compassion and forgiveness can take over.

Once fear and anger are not clouding our judgment, we can walk through the four steps of forgiveness described in “Four Tools of Emotional Healing” and let go of our resentment and expectations.  That doesn’t mean we will suddenly become best friends with those who have hurt us, but it does mean that the emotional chains that kept us bound to them will be broken.

Wanting and Needing

About 20 years ago, I did some work around needs and wants.
My deep seated belief (my inner child’s belief, if you will) was that God only gave me what I needed, but I never got (didn’t deserve) what I simply wanted.

This did two things.  First of all, it meant that I didn’t allow good thing into my life unless I thought I absolutely needed them.  This kept me blind to many blessings and opportunities that were all around me.

Second, it kept me in a state of constant desperation.  If I wanted something, I had to convince myself that I NEEDED it, or I knew I would never get it.  Of course if I needed it and didn’t have it, then life was pretty awful.  This approach was most evident in my choice of a lifestyle in which I demonstrated on a daily basis my desperate NEED for a relationship with a woman.  I was afraid that if I didn’t convince the universe that I needed a woman in my life, I would spend the rest of eternity alone.  Of course, this desperation was not particularly attractive to emotionally healthy women, so it made it difficult for the universe to give me what I wanted.

To prove to me that I was allowed to have my wants as well as my needs met, My therapist invited me to think of something I simply wanted, but did not really need, and then ask the universe (God) to bring it to me.
Believe it or not, I asked for an electric toothbrush. I had recently gone bankrupt, and the idea of spending $70 on a toothbrush seemed outrageously frivolous. But I really did want it.

A few days later, God found a way to double my income overnight, and I went out and bought that toothbrush.

Believe it or not, this is NOT about the law of attraction.  It is not about attracting what we want,  It is about giving ourselves permission to accept more of the good that the world has to offer.

God wants us to have everything.

God wants YOU to have everything – even a committed, loving relationship.
But He wants it to be healthy.  That means that it can’t be about desperation.

You have to want it for the right reasons, not need it for the wrong reasons.