We all have the same longing to belong -- to be intimately seen, loved, known and trusted. However, we live in an extremely pervasive culture of shame. It has told us that we are not lovable just as we are, that we have to earn our sense of belonging, and to top it all off, we will never be good enough. This is a culture of violence directed at our very being, and we have become deeply wounded.
For most people, to avoid the depressing experience of shame we use mood-altering behaviors which include not only over-work, gambling, shopping, food, chemicals, sex, drugs, media and extreme sports, but also controlling, dominating, anger and violence directed at others, to cite just a few examples. Behaviors and beliefs become so ingrained that we can only repeat formulas for dealing with life in rigid, narrow ranges of action. It becomes very difficult to see and admit that we have become obsessed with the avoidance of shame. The hard work of love requires us to generate the willingness to be completely honest about what we are doing to ourselves, to be patient with both ourselves and others, and above all else to seek connection when there appears to be none.
The practical, tangible, do-able and easily understood self-examination process in this workbook takes us through individually written answers to powerful questions, and if possible, self-disclosure in a regular meeting of trusted friends. Although this work may be done in solitude, the mutual support of a group provides encouragement and accountability. When a group agrees to create a safe space free of shame, our natural character strengths such as curiosity, respect, courage, patience, acceptance, serenity, honesty and gratitude will slowly emerge. This structure is an opportunity to drastically reduce the effects of the culture of shame and violence within ourselves and restore our experience of connection and belonging.
Individual transformation will come from immersion in the solution -- experiencing the joy, wonder and power of a community that's working for everyone — as they move together from control to acceptance, from domination to empowerment of others, from thoughts, words and deeds of separation to partnership. At a certain point along our journey towards connection, we begin to see that our wounds are healing, and then the deeper question arises, "How much healing am I willing to accept?" (See Recovery Transformations blog post)
Once you have gathered an interested group together, you may send me an email using the contact form in the right sidebar. I will send you instructions for bulk ordering a box of books for your group. I donate 100% of the income I receive to International Cities of Peace.
DISCLAIMER: This work is not a substitute for professional help and there is no assurance that it will alleviate the symptoms of organic disorders. If you have any doubts about the suitability of this work for your situation, consult your therapist, counselor or doctor.
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David Hazen is a Notable Alumnus of Achievement from the University of Minnesota and earned his Master’s degree in whole-system design-planning at Ohio State University. He participated in The Peace Alliance's advocacy for a U.S. Department of Peace, is the recipient of two PeaceBuilder Awards, and is an advisor to International Cities of Peace. He is also the founder of the Emerald Compassionate Action Network in Eugene, Oregon. He authored "Love Always Wins: Hope for Healing the Epidemic of Violence” (2012).