Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Daily Reflections: Not Everyone Deserves My Precious Time

Today’s Reflection started with an article about the need to purge toxic friends / relationships.  In this article was the following list:

  • If I don’t think much of so and so, why am I keeping them around?
  • If so and so doesn’t seem to respect my time, maybe I should stop giving it to them?
  • If so and so needs to make other people feel bad to feel good about themselves, isn’t that the definition of a relationship that’s unhealthy?
  • If so and so is a troll who seems to thrive on drama, then good for them, but where is the rule that says I have to participate in it?

I wish someone had given me this advice much sooner in life!   Learning to cultivate "HEALTHY" relationships was not something I was taught.  I was taught to ignore people's faults, to make allowances for their bad behaviour!  I was trained to be a people pleaser, my worth became tied to how much I tolerated without complaint!   If I tolerated then I was good.  If I did not tolerate or complained…then I was bad.   That is the message the false core belief that I was taught . 

All this lead to was years and years and years of me feeling bad about myself!!!

-    They hurt me ....I feel bad about me,
-    They ignore me ...I feel bad about me. 
-    The call me names....I feel bad about me.
-    They disparage my point of view....I feel bad about me
-    They tell me what is wrong with me.... I feel bad about me

And yet I have been encouraged to keep them in my life because  (insert various reasons here).  I was given the hidden message that the reason they did these things to me was because I was not good enough and that if only I were a better person they would not treat me that way.   And stupid me; shame on me, I believed this false message!!

Well learning about healthy boundaries means I have learned that I have the right to say no to such behaviour!   Moreover; when they don't respect my NO and insist that I ought to uncomplainingly tolerate such behaviour;  then I deserve and have the right to make changes in the time I will allow them to negatively impact upon me.

They whom I have cut from having the pleasure of my time, and those whom I will continue to cut from having the privilege of being in my circle of intimates; can be angry with me (that after all is their right)  but what they do not have the right to continue doing is harm me with their negativity, destroy my equanimity, or diminish my worth.

Don't like my boundaries? 
Fine. 
I don't like your behaviour! 

And that means I have the right to choose not to waste my precious time in your company!

Renate Dundys Marrello
2018 – 01 – 31 




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Friday, January 12, 2018

Post Estrangement: Healing has Consequences


A friend sent me a quote recently asking me what it means to me when applied to my trauma and my own personal healing journey of recovering from the lingering effects of being abandoned. 

The quote: 

"Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. 
And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, 
saying nothing, is compliance. 
There’s no innocence. 
Either way, you’re accountable."

As always I feel that quotes are a stepping stone, a start for exploring the deeper meaning behind the words.  Sometimes quotes make us jump to conclusions, often remaining superficial.  This one is a good quote in my opinion because it pushes and pushes back against the easy answers.

I want to thank my friend for challenging me with this opportunity to explore, what I have seen that can’t be unseen!

My journey of healing began after being estranged.  And naturally the first part of my journey was about grieving.  Being estranged was and is; first a journey of grief…but that is not where it should stop. 


There came a point in time when I recognized that I needed to climb out of the abyss of grieving and start climbing back toward living.  I needed to begin learning how to live through grief instead of letting grief become the central story of my life.   There came a point in my life where I wasn’t finding any solutions in grieving and I decided that for myself I needed to begin a journey of healing.





Healing meant educating myself and learning about behaviour patterns, things like narcissism, and other cluster B personality disorders.







Then I had to learn why I was so susceptible to these types of personalities; where I did I learn to be codependent and how did those patterns affect my life and my parenting style, which then further opened up my awareness that my pattern of behaviour being a co-dependent (as well as my lack of communication skills but that is another topic) set the scene for the types of personalities my children would develop.

What I then saw was that while I hated what my estranger did to me and to our family, I was also responsible because of what I did not know before (not that I blame myself for not knowing, but I am aware that my not knowing had an “effect” on our relationship style as well as the personality of my children.) My lack of knowledge affected the outcome, plain and simple.  What I had not been given the opportunity to learn changed my patterns of behaviour and those patterns of behaviour allowed things to happen without consequences and corrections that ought to have been taken place. 

I cannot unsee this.  I see deficient character traits in my estranging daughter and I can see why she developed them and why she was susceptible to the people she choose to believe and emulate and follow.


I also cannot go back to blaming her or hold a grudge against her. My knowledge increases my ability to be compassionate towards people for what they do not know.  In being able to forgive myself for what I did not know, I can forgive them for what they do not know. (I remind people who have not followed all of my writings, that in my mind forgiveness in no way condones behaviour, it simply accepts that people make mistakes based on their faulty knowledge, which then plays out in dysfunctional behaviour patterns.  Apology, remorse, atonement and other factors come into play for reconciliation which can only happen when both parties have gained new knowledge, better insight and better communication skills) 

For myself also I cannot go back to being quiet about what I have learned….it is part of who I am now.  My learning and my healing has changed me.  I am no longer codependent and can’t and won’t go back to that way of behaving.  

I can’t continue to be an enabler / compliant type of person.    
I am no longer an innocent believer in the general goodness of people, I see them for who they are based on how they behave and I recognize that their behavior is their character and that deficient character is learned and as something that is learned it is passed on generation to generation and as such family dysfunction is handed down generation to generation as each generation develops different means of dealing with that dysfunction based on what is the “norm” in that time period. 

I did not abandon my mom….because in my era that was simply not done, and we were raised to do what the social community said to do.  If I had grown up in a different time, I might have distanced myself from my mom for she was / is controlling, manipulative and very clearly has patterns of behaviours / mannerisms, ways of talking to me, that hurt me; hurt me as deeply as the narcissistic behaviours of my estranging daughter. 

I am no longer innocent. 

Innocence allowed me to be a door mat, made me an enabler of bad behaviour becau
se I did not want to create drama or “rock the boat”, hurt someone's feelings etc.   I am now better able to call behaviour out for what it is.  I see words and actions now in the perspective of what they are attempting to control.  I analyze behaviours for the personality types. 

I am accountable for who I have become because of what I have learned.  I chose to take that journey to understand people and personality better and so how I see people now is my responsibility. 

However it is also my responsibility and my accountability to myself to adjust my responses in both word and action based on my new awareness.  This means I have to accept the consequences of my actions in a different way.  If I choose to confront a person who exhibits deficient character patterns, if I choose to call then out for their words or behaviors; I have to expect that they will react negatively and in a hostile manner  towards me. I am accountable for that change in my behaviour and thus accountable for the changes in my relationships as they move forward from each moment to each moment.


What I have seen and learned are now a part of who I am.  Learning and knowledge robs us of naivety and innocence for sure. 

Whether you are forced to learn as part of a healing journey or by other choice, innocence once lost, makes us accountable not only for what we know, but for how we use the knowledge that we now have.

My friend was happy with my thought process, and so I thought I would share it with others who also might be on a healing journey of self-discovery and who wonder maybe what the impacts might be on their lives as they learn and grow and transform and heal.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2018 – 01 – 12   


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Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Daily Reflection: Loyalty

I am a loyal person.  Maybe I was taught that loyalty is a virtue and I held on to that notion longer than is useful.  The more I learn about dysfunctional relationships the more I recognize that those who cause us harm tend to want us to stay in their lives because their power and control over us gives them satisfaction in the form of power and control.  Maybe they don’t even realize that this is what they are doing; maybe it is just their nature. 

Sadly for loyal people, this strategy of the “controllers” works for a long, long time….because being loyal requires giving others the benefit of the doubt.  “Maybe they don’t know that that comment hurt me or made me feel disrespected or unloved” is the feeling that I have come away from far too many interactions with those people who I thought were “important” people in my life. 

I am learning hard lessons in my senior years!

I am learning that when I have had enough and when I voice my opinion that I have had enough I have discovered that those who enjoyed the fruits of my loyalty (my willingness to overlook their meanness)  were more than eager to dump me when I no longer played the required role of loyal door mat. 

So what this has taught me is that the bullies, users and abusers, manipulative and controlling people have NO DIFFICULTY ENDING RELATIONSHIPS WHEN THEIR NEEDS ARE NO LONGER MET. 

It is only the loyal people that are willing to put up with so much in order to preserve a relationship that they have a hard time letting go.

The more I study this phenomenon the more I realize that it is important to have sort of a guide line that gives me permission to let go of people that hurt me.  And more importantly to evaluate and see that when I have been dumped by such people it should be seen by me as a revelation that I cared more about preserving the relationship than they did. Their only reason for preserving the relationship was to gain what I gave them in the way of service to their ego whereas my reason for preserving the relationship was loyalty. 

My track record in life has been that I have most often been the dumpé; whenever my usefulness was over, I was dumped.  I was the one that got hurt over and over again because I was loyal even when I felt disrespected and unappreciated.  I have suffered the pangs of pain as I tried to figure out why I was not good enough to keep in relationship with when all I asked was to be treated with kindness and respect.  Why was I always being dumped when I said NO, to anymore verbal or emotional abuse?

I have come to the conclusion that I need to dump in hindsight in such cases.  I need to recognize that the relationship that I was dumped from was not a healthy one in the first place.  I need to make peace with those rejections from a place of new understanding. 

The fact is that the treatment that I received and that I tolerated for the sake of loyalty was in fact a sign of the problems in the relationship and the fact that the other person felt no reason for them to change meant that I should have actually done the dumping much earlier in the relationship.  I should not have clung to the relationship in loyalty as long as I did thus ensuring my eventual dumping.  It was only a matter of time that my usefulness would come to an end.  It was my loyalty that blinded me to that fact! 

Sometimes in life we learn lesson way late!  What I would have done to have this knowledge and information 40 or 50 years ago!!  How much heartache would I have been able to prevent, if I had had the skills to recognize the signs when my loyalty was misplaced.  If had been able to recognize when it was time to end a relationship before my usefulness ran out and before I was dumped!

Renate Dundys Marrello

2018 – 01 – 11 



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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

post estrangement: legacy of a legacy

“The way you love yourself is a direct reflection 
of how your parents loved you.
If they were critical, shaming, judgmental and 
perfectionist; then that is how you will treat yourself.  
If they didn’t support you lovingly then you will 
struggle to be assertive, to protect yourself properly 
and to ask directly for what you want.  
Real healing means knowing how to undo the 
damage done by neglectful and toxic parenting styles.” 
~ Richard Grannon.

As often happens my mind leaps in to try to make sense of what happened to me in my life and as a result changed the way I perceived the experiences of my life.

I know that my "door mat" / codependent patterns of behaviour stem from how I was treated as a child.  However, was that so very different from how most children of my era were treated?  I know that in my youth "parents and teachers" were always right.  They were critical and demanded perfection.  Is that a bad thing?  Where does the line shift from teaching good values and work ethic to being shame producing judgmentalism?  Is it in the words used, or the lack of validation of effort?  Is it the implication that only perfection is rewarded with loving attention?  Are the subliminal messages of words or actions what form our early impressions of self-worth? What failed to happen in my childhood that I was left feeling so very unlovable?


So then the question becomes, if I grew up with this self-view that I am unworthy, what exactly was it that made me believe this to be true?  Where did I cross the line into feeling that I was so unworthy that I did not deserve to be assertive, to protect myself and to be aware that I had the right to my own needs and wants? 

How does one undo or change when one is unaware that there is anything wrong?  I always knew I was unhappy with how I felt about myself, but it was not talked about.  I was able to function, to go to work, to establish a life, a home.  But I also always knew that I was different, that I did not “fit in”.  I always felt that I had to “work harder” to be accepted, to be included.  Was this neediness apparent to those I associated with?  If so were the more emotionally healthy people repulsed by my neediness?  And was I more attractive to the controlling and abusive types because they saw that my insecurities could be used to manipulate me?

And more importantly how did this lack of self-confidence translate into my parenting style? Did I go too far in the other direction validating so much that I forgot to teach the necessary balance of humility? And if in my attempt to validate my own offspring I was still unable to bestow a sense of self-esteem, what did I fail to do, what skill did I not have access to?

I am troubled by these questions because parenting was a huge part of my life for so many years and it was something I wanted to do well, or at least to leave fewer wounds on my children than were left on me.  And yet I feel that on some level, my own inadequacies, my copying techniques passed on characteristics and behaviour patterns to my now adult children that I would rather they not have to deal with.

I sense their struggles and I feel helpless to help them.  I have gained so much knowledge but how do I open doors that seem shut to better communication and better relationship building?  I understand the value of authenticity and vulnerability now in a way I never knew before, but they don’t know this person I am becoming.  I don’t even know if they are interested in knowing me as I am now.

So even as I undo the lingering effects of my own childhood traumas, how do I bring this knowledge into the present in such a way as to make a difference in their lives?  How do I point out their behaviour patterns that are destructive to our relationship without making them feel criticized?  How do I show them that I understand the nature of healing and the undoing of false core beliefs when they seem to have no interest in exploring the changing me?


And more importantly, if family trauma is inherited and passed on, what impact can I have for my grandchildren, both born and as yet unborn?  Do I have any power to break the cycle, to break the patterns of omission, of what was not done sufficiently well?

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 12 – 19 


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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Post Estrangement: the role of authenticity in reconciliations

I recently heard this thought in a video I was watching
“We can either have authenticity or we can simply preserve a relationship.” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate

If we put on a mask, pretend to be okay, talk about fluff we can preserve a relationship. It is what we have been programmed to do from a young age when we received the message that "our feelings" don't matter, when the grownups in our lives introduced us to the concept of not sharing our feelings was what they preferred.  Do mostly all adults in authority do this to children?  Is the process of teaching children about teaching them to share only those emotions that they (the adults) are comfortable dealing with?  If this is the case, is it any surprise that some people who study personality and character say that everyone has grown up in some way learning to be inauthentic and that this is where so many of our relational problems stem from.  

So what do we as children learn?  We learn that authenticity (being real and expressing our feelings) is frowned up by our care givers especially when those feeling are ones they find uncomfortable dealing with.  That means, anger, frustrations, resentment etc. have to be suppressed, ignored and unexpressed if we want to have a nurturing relationship with our caregivers. We learn early on that authenticity, expressing our authentic feelings puts our lives in danger if your caregivers become angry with us, withdraw their affection etc.  We learn early on which emotions to NOT express, and which emotions are the safe ones (happy, content, grateful etc). We learn when to “shut up and shut down” and we learn to pretend, put on a false mask or playact for those we can’t afford to antagonize.

So we become adults who internalize the message that authenticity is something to be feared.  We bring this false core belief to all our interactions and our relationships.  We fear to share too much, we fear to be too real because people might not like us and we continue to filter everything we say through the process of not saying anything that might “annoy” or infringe upon the “contentment of the other person.  Of course we do this in different ways depending on our personality.  People pleasers do this in an attempt to not anger or disturb the more dominating personalities.  However, the more dominating personalities sublimate their own authenticity too when they fail to look at why they get emotional release from dominating others or why they get so very angry when someone dares to point out to them that their actions are hurtful.  They don’t want to look at their authentic self to explore why they are the way they are. 

However, when we are serious about healing we learn that if we go after authenticity, when we start to express how we feel, not in a moment of anger, but in serious communication we do face the fear of destroying the relationship that has been based upon non expression of emotional truths and feelings.  And just yelling at another person that they are angry, or hurling hurtful comments is not communication of feelings. 


Communication of feelings requires us to know what we are feeling, why we are feeling it, what triggers that feeling and what we need the other person to do differently to not put up this wall of non-communication.  This requires knowledge of one’s own responses as well as understanding that the other person also has triggers and emotional responses that are not necessarily rational.

And if one person in the relationship reaches a point where they are willing to be authentic and the other person is not, you have to face the very real prospect that being authentic when the other person is not ready could destroy the relationship, because not everyone is ready to deal with authenticity.


When we recognize that the other person is not ready to be authentic we do the “tip toe dance”.  This is where the phrase “walking on egg shells” comes from.  The feeling that we constantly must be on guard about what we say; that if we say the wrong thing the other person will explode into rage at us.  We filter our comments and thoughts so as not to trigger the other person.  This is the height of unauthenticity in that we know we are doing it and we do it anyway so as “not to rock the boat”. 

This is when we recognize that we can either have a relationship or we can have authenticity but we can’t have both.  Putting our real feelings on the table, being vulnerable, being authentic will drive the person who is not ready for such a personal form of interaction away.  They will either be afraid to express their deeper more real selves or they will retaliate in anger for you daring to point out that what they did or said had such an affect upon you.

This is when you realize that some people are very happy with a casual relationship based on nothing more significant that talking about the pleasantries of life.  The gossipy conversations about other people’s lives and all the empty conversations we participate in to “fill the silence” of not saying anything at all.   Now many people are quite happy living in this state with these kinds of relationships.  They have no interest in being real, and it works for them because they either feel in control of the drama, or because they want to avoid the drama.

The problem arises when there are difficulties in the relationship, when one person is always on the receiving end of criticism and they have to stuff down their negative reaction to the critic to not antagonize the giver of the criticism.  You have a situation then where you “avoid” topics, or back away from certain discussions to preserve the peace.  However the source of the tension remains, it is the wall that feels unsurmountable because of all the things that are not discussed, not explored, not worked through.  The longer things are not worked on or worked out, the bigger the wall becomes.

Vulnerability requires us to look at how our actions affect others.  Authenticity requires us to explore these responses.  In healing we do the work on ourselves, we explore our authenticity and our vulnerabilities and get to know who we are, why others treat us the way they do, why we respond to certain triggers the way we do.  We also start to learn what their vulnerabilities are and why they are camouflaging their vulnerability with aggressive actions to avoid facing their internal issues. 

We reach a certain point in our healing however where we realize that healing relationships requires two people willing to be in the same space of vulnerability and authenticity.  We recognize that we could if we wanted to go back to putting on the mask to preserve the old relationship but we also question whether we want to go back to “walking on egg shells” to preserve something that is not very healthy, something that is filled with shrouded areas where no one is allowed to look too closely at the ghosts and skeletons in the closet.  We then face the question, which do I value more?  Do I value my authenticity or do I value a relationship based on hiding my authentic self? And if I value the relationship am I willing to put my own need, my need to be authentic aside?  Am I willing to sacrifice my need for authenticity for the need of the other person to not face their internal demons?

Every relationship we have at some point in our healing journey gets tested by these questions.  If we have been in the habit of putting other people’s needs first, ahead of our own, we might be tempted to go for the “walking on egg shells” relationships.  If we have divested ourselves of our need to be the peace keeper at all costs, we might be more inclined to say “authentic or nothing”.  We might get to that place where “no” relationship is preferable to a relationship with someone who requires us to hid our real selves to preserve their comfort level.

When we ask another person to be authentic with us we want them to face their actions and the consequences of their actions.  When we want an authentic relationship we want to work together at becoming more real.  When we are ready to be that vulnerable we want the important other people in our lives to also be that vulnerable.  But what if they are not ready?

What if they are not ready to look at themselves because one of their coping mechanisms is to look only at the faults of others?  What if they want to blame you so they don’t have to look at their own actions and their own contributions to the problem?  Can you have an authentic relationship with a person still stuck in blaming others for their problems?  I believe this is not possible unless we are willing to take the blame and be their scape goat.  However, that is about as unreal and inauthentic as you can get once you know that this is what is happening.  So then the question becomes; ‘am I willing to become inauthentic again in order to soothe the other person so they don’t have to face their own culpability in the problem?’

This is the problem that we face healing in the aftermath of in estrangement.  There comes a time when we recognize all the problems in the relationship, the parts we contributed and the parts that the other person contributed.  When we realize what we are responsible for and also what we are NOT responsible for.  When we recognize where our feelings start and that we own those feelings, but that the other person is responsible for doing the things that they did, especially when we see them doing so on purpose to trigger us to feel that way.  When we start to recognize coping strategies as an excuse to not work on healing, we reveal that side of the person that they would rather remain hidden.

If we choose to allow those people who have estranged us back into our lives, especially if they have made it clear they have no intention of changing; we can preserve the relationship only by putting on a mask of okay-ness.  We have to suppress our desire for authenticity and be aware that we have to be content wearing that “mask” even though we may want more in the way of an authentic relationship. 

Of course our other choice is to push for authenticity knowing that we then risk the relationship.  We only have the power to change ourselves.  That is where our power ends.  The other person has to travel their own healing journey to that place where they too want to be authentic and vulnerable and they too have an interest in healing the relationship in a meaningful way.

I believe that reconciliations are just as emotionally charged as the estrangement was.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 12 – 16 




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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Daily Reflections: Healing toward Authenticity


I recently watched a TEDx Talk given by Alison Ledgerwood, the topic “Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck). 

I walked away from watching this video with a new perspective on healing, and an entirely different spin on the work of healing.  Possibly the hardest part of healing is just going from thinking we are somehow damaged or broken, to seeing ourselves as amazing miracles of recovery!


So much of my healing work has been focused on discovering “what” is broken, tracing back to “why” it is broken, i.e. what happened in my past that created the broken feedback loop within my brain; and then trying to figure out “how” to go about changing that false core belief.  



And yet even after all this work I still essentially see myself as this broken think that needs fixing.  I still feel the need to focus on not letting the false core beliefs take over again (and this remains extremely difficult when faced with the people who liked my behaviour when it was based on my false core beliefs because I was softer and more amenable to their manipulations).
I still feel this basic underlying assumption that there is something wrong with me when people don’t see the authentic me as valid but would rather see the mask I used to wear in order to preserve the relationship.

I am only recently starting to understand that I have to start to see myself as this wonderful miraculous thing called a human being.  This gift of life is so overwhelmingly precious and we are trained into believing that we are defective because we are not pleasing enough to others.  


I think in healing we need to recapture that innocence of who we were before all the “bad” things that happened to us.  We need to reclaim the miracle of our life and peel away all the layers of guilt and false beliefs that have smothered our authenticity. 

The journey is one of discovering that beyond our personality (which is influenced by the patterns of behaviour of those we were raised by); there is our essence, our soul if you will, of who we really are.  The façade that we wear and present to the world is a mere shadow of who we really are.  Our gifts, our talents, our purpose are all there for the uncovering.  All we have to do is strip away the many layers of falsehoods the prevent out “soul light” from shining through. 

We are not broken things that need repairing.  We are rather walking miracles that have been burdened with carrying the weight of inaccurate perceptions laid upon us (most likely unintentionally) by the wounds of a similar delusion that burdened our early caregivers. 

I participated in a course recently called “the Spiritual Codes”, which presented the notion that we are levels of awareness.  Most of the time we are aware of our bodies and our emotions and our mental thoughts.  But we are not so frequently aware of our soul and even less so aware of our monad.


Breaking through all the conditioning toward our inner higher being is essentially what healing work is all about.  Healing is discovering who we were before we were wrapped in the constraints of conformity.



And herein lies the conundrum.  With our propensity for a negative bias we have to learn first that; no we were not “broken” by the events of our lives, but rather we became blinded to the truth and beauty of our inner higher self.  When we become aware of this we start to see our healing journey as a miracle of recovery,  something positive and joyful and beautiful rather than just an exercise of exploring ways to deal with the pain of feeling broken. 

Healing then becomes an adventure of discovery rather than the chore or drudgery of trying to fix bits and pieces of brokenness.

My mission has not changed.  I still am on this healing journey, this quest to discover and uncover and reveal the authentic me, the higher self that I know myself to be.  I will just be doing it now from a more joyful place, a place of knowing that I am already that which I am seeking, it is already there buried beneath all the junk of false perceptions and inaccurate core beliefs. 

And because I know that every person I encounter also has this inner higher self even when it is buried and hidden from sight by the dysfunctional behaviour patterns of personality, I can more easily find the compassion, which is the essence of a loving heart and spirit and soul.

Always my hope remains that by being authentic about my healing journey, I can inspire others to join me on this journey of discovery.  And I can do this with greater awareness that if they are not ready for their own journey, the potential for their healing exists.

One more piece of the puzzle fell into place for me yesterday as I listened to Gabor Mate and his son Daniel in discussion at a lecture presentation.  Gabor said something that resonated with me. “We can either be authentic or we can preserve the relationship at all costs.  In childhood we relinquish authenticity to preserve the relationship”.   And my inner higher self-applauded and said; “in adulthood we have the choice to reclaim our authenticity if we are willing to sacrifice those relationships that do not honour and support our authenticity.”


And so I return to my learning and my seeking and my quest for understanding and maybe even some wisdom.  To reclaim that authentic inner self that I know is just waiting to be uncovered.  It is this authentic self that I will share with those who are ready to expose their authentic selves to me.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 12 – 11




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I love when you share my page to spread the word.
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Daily Reflection: Exploring the concept of Bypassing


Recently I have learned a new concept called Spiritual bypass. 

Definition: A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing 
is a "tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices 
to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional 
issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished 
developmental tasks".

To me this means using something as a reason to avoid another something.


I think that avoidance tactics are one of those things that we tend to turn to in order to avoid something painful about ourselves that we don’t want to face.  Maybe that is why it is so easy for us humans to come up with excuses and rationalizations. 




One of the deciding factors in my healing journey was facing my propensity for saying “yes but”.   I would face something that I knew I needed to change about my thinking patterns or my behaviour patterns and then I would list all the reasons for not changing.  

Once I was aware that I was doing it I started to see it in others around me as well.  The most common turned to BUT is   “but it is so hard”.   Of course change is hard I want to shout, that is why it is called change.  Naturally this rationalization itself is not so simple. 

Difficult is the word that we turn to as a simple explanation for the fear that we fear will be revealed in the process of change. 



For example; without change we can blame our circumstances, other people, the actions of other people, the inactions of other people, our history and essentially all the many details that go into bringing us to this point in time with this problem that can only be resolved through change. 

However, when we do change we will have taken on responsibility for ourselves.  Then if we don’t like the outcome we have no one to blame but ourselves.  It is no longer about the others it is about us.  That is a huge amount of accountability to take on.  It makes us vulnerable while at the same time making us authentic.  This is a scary place to be.

So just as in Spiritual bypass I think we need to become aware of bypassing the changes we need to make, the avoidances that we allow to continue become a sort of “life bypass”, where we are using engagement in our life stories to bypass the changes of healing.

Under this kind of avoidance we can look at things like this: 
  • Where there is a propensity to focus on the mistakes of others there is the need to protect or preserve the ego from facing our own wrongful actions.  Is this where the refusal to apologize for comes from?  When only others do wrong, that means we do only right ergo, no need to apologize. 
  • What about the situation where one deflects away from a criticism by introducing a lining up of faults in the other person.  In this case there is an avoidance of having to take ownership for the wrongdoing that we committed that leads to a domino effect of other actions.   If we get far enough down the line of dominoes maybe everyone will forget the hurtful action that precipitated the cascade event in the first place.
  • What about when an error is pointed out, or an action is exposed as having caused harm and the first response  to this is the casting of a judgement upon the person calling attention to the fault?   In this case judging is used as an avoidance tactic for not having to take ownership of the error or harm causing action.

In all of these instances (and I am sure there are more of them that abound in our relationships) there is a bypassing happening.  There is this assumption that if we can deflect away from introspection we can just live life without having to face the difficulty of accountability.

I am sure some of us bypass introspection more than others.  Possibly also there might be some times in our lives when we do more bypassing than at others.  Maybe difficult times in our lives bring out a greater desire to bypass?

In observing people I have noticed people tend to bypass when an event makes them see something in themselves that they don’t want to see, or when on some level they understand that they need to face something that they don’t want to face.  

However I have also noticed that some people make a habit of bypassing.  I call this the “nothing is ever my fault syndrome” there is always someone or something or some event to blame.  

The finger is always pointing out and there is an avoidance of remembering that when the pointer points outward, there are three fingers pointing inward (middle, and ring and pinky).

I think that what I have become aware of is that there are two kinds of bypassing. 
  • In the first there is only harm to the self, in that avoiding deflects and side tracks personal emotional healing.
  • In the second there is the causing of harm to others because bypassing allows actions and inappropriate behaviours by the activation of a supply of plausible excuses or rationalizations.

Harming others through bypassing behaviour is something that I see quite often.  One very common use is name calling and put downs in response to anything that seems to harm their ego.  This is often seen in bullying behaviours.  When I have questioned such actions, I have received comments like; “this is my coping technique for dealing with my pain”.  

This leaves me to ponder;
  • Do people really believe that they can bypass their wrong doings and their hurtful actions by blaming that “their past made them do it?”
  • Do they really feel that they have the right to be mean because it is the “protective response to past injuries”
  • Do they feel entitled to bypass their own healing while at the same time expecting others to make allowances for them because they carry emotional wounds?

Considering that almost every human carries woundedness from their past this does not seem to be an especially appropriate kind of behaviour.  Because we were harmed or hurt in some way by our past does not give one licence to behave hurtfully in the present.  This is especially the case in our present day awareness that we; if we really wanted to, can change our ways by learning to deal with and heal our emotional wounds.

It is at times like this where my reflections on life leave me in a quandary. On the one hand I can see the results of such behaviours; I can see the hurting on both sides.  I can see the hurting of all the people who are all really trying to find relief from the pain of life.  I can even understand the motivation to protect by deflecting outward.  What I can’t understand is the kind of character that a person must have to live at peace with themselves knowing that they are hurting others to assuage their own pain.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2017 – 11 – 11



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