It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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DR. MARGARET PAUL is a bestselling author, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows (including Oprah). Her book titles include Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved By You, Heal...
DR. MARGARET PAUL is a bestselling author, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows (including Oprah). Her book titles include Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved By You, Healing Your Aloneness, Inner Bonding" and the recently released Diet For Divine Connection and The Inner Bonding Workbook. Margaret has successfully worked with thousands around the world and taught classes and seminars for over 50 years.
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"How Can I Manage Overwhelm?"

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Most of us lead very busy lives and it is easy to become overwhelmed with all we need to do. In addition, about 15% to 20% of us are born with highly sensitive nervous systems that are far more reactive to having a lot to do than the general population. Since I have a very highly sensitive nervous system, I understand how easily some of us can become overwhelmed by the demands of life. I have learned some powerful tools for managing overwhelm that I will share with you as I answer the following questions about overwhelm.

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Are You Ridiculed for Your Spiritual Beliefs?

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Are you in a relationship with someone who judges you for your spiritual beliefs?

I work with many people whose spiritual connection is very important to them, but who are in a relationship with a partner who ridicules them, or whose family ridicules them. My client, Shelly, ask me: “I'm in a relationship with a man who is very kind and loving but does not have any form of faith, and he regularly ridicules religion. I am not religious, but I do have spiritual beliefs which he describes as ‘fanciful’. I don’t feel close and connected with him, or respected by him when he judges me, so I no longer share my beliefs with him. But why does he ridicule me? And how should I respond to this?”
 

It's my experience that when someone judges another for their spiritual beliefs, it's because on some level they feel threatened by them.

People who don't open to having a personal experience of Spirit are often afraid of being duped or controlled. They feel safe when they are in their head rather than in their heart, and they may feel afraid of being used or taken advantage of if they move into their heart. When such a person takes a one-up position, like Shelley's partner who is judging her spiritual beliefs as 'fanciful,' it's often because they are afraid of losing control over the other person. Perhaps Shelley's partner fears that if she follows her own guidance, he may lose control over her.

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Are You Unrealistically Hoping Your Partner Will Change?

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Is there someone in your life whom you love and whom you keep hoping will change if you love them enough?

One of the main reasons people stay too long in a relationship is that they unrealistically hope that, miraculously, their partner will change. This is the situation Marisa describes:

"I've been investing my entire heart in a narcissistic man over the past ten months. During this time, I've had the life sucked out of me - I've not been tending to myself and instead have abandoned myself to try to make him feel better in the hopes he'll change, care for and respect me right back. Deeply depressed of late he refuses to seek psychiatric or therapeutic help. I couldn't stand by watching him drown and finally two weeks ago said he should call me when he finds outside help and is feeling better. It's been so relaxing not to be insulted, criticized or bullied or be walking on eggs constantly. I miss him even so and am shocked and hurt that I've not heard from him to date. I accept that I was so busy rescuing him that I abandoned myself in doing so. If he contacts me, I'd like to try putting myself first. I’m probably kidding myself, but should I even contemplate giving him another chance? A narcissist is never wrong and is always right as you know. I'm miserable in the meantime."

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The Best New Year Gift Ever

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Many of us grew up feeling very alone. When our feelings were not accepted and attended to with caring, understanding, and compassion, we might have felt deeply abandoned and perhaps terrified at the level of aloneness we felt within. If you were abused physically, sexually, or emotionally, or you were neglected, then this aloneness was overwhelming and you had to find ways to numb this pain, which is how the wounded self was developed.

Today, this deep aloneness and fear can get triggered in our relationships. This triggering is common in dysfunctional relationship systems such as the one between Janice and Marcus.

Janice, an only child, had a mother who suffered from borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental disorder where the person is often blaming, threatening, and rageful. Janice’s mother took her rage out on Janice, and when she would cry, her mother would ridicule her. Janice’s father was an alcoholic who sometimes beat her and her mother. There was never a time growing up when Janice felt safe. She had developed a deep fear of rejection. 

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Sharing Holiday Love - Even If You Are Alone!

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Are you single, newly divorced, and without family around you? Are you dreading being alone for the holidays? Your holiday can be joyous and fulfilling!

Being alone is a challenge for many people. This challenge may loom especially large during the holidays if you are single or newly divorced and without family around you. Holidays are a time to share love, and many people end up feeling depressed when they do not have people around with whom to show their love. If you are in this situation, what can you do to make the holidays joyous rather than depressing?

The key phrase here is SHARE LOVE.

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Holidays: Fraught or Fun?

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What comes to mind when you think about the holidays?

Do you groan, feeling burdened by all you have to do? Do you dread going shopping for gifts or cleaning up after Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or other holiday celebrations?

Or, do you feel a sense of fun, delight, and joy in the celebrating and in the giving and receiving?

Which part of you is in charge of the holidays - your judgmental, ego wounded self or your spiritually connected loving adult?

Think for a moment about the little child in you - the child who may have loved the holidays. What delighted you about Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or other holiday celebrations? Most kids are really excited about receiving gifts, but many children also feel equally excited about giving gifts. Did you enjoy decorating your house?

Or, were the holidays a sad time, a time of heartbreak due to not having enough money? Or a time of loneliness due to the loss of a loved one? Were they a time of stress in your family? Was there abuse around holiday times?

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Addiction to Getting Others To Change

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If you find yourself often focused on healing others or hoping you can get others to change, it is likely that you don't think of this as an addiction. I define an addiction as anything we do to avoid taking responsibility for our own feelings. When you are focused on getting others to change, or hoping others will change, is this a way for you to avoid taking loving care of yourself? Are you trying to fix others and get them to change so that you don't have to learn to take responsibility for your own feelings?

Judy finds herself caught in this addiction:

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Actions of Love

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Many people suffer daily from anxiety, depression, stress, guilt, shame, anger and inadequacy. Taking loving actions can heal this.


Myrna, 38 and a successful physician, sought my help because she often felt inadequate. While she really valued herself as a doctor, she did not value herself in her important relationships with friends and family. In addition, she said she wanted to be in a loving relationship but she took no actions to meet available men.

In the course of our work together, it became apparent that Myrna rarely took loving action on her own behalf with her friends and family. For example, Jessica, one of Myrna's friends, would often get angry and blame Myrna when Myrna was not available for dinner with Jessica. Myrna would feel guilty and responsible for Jessica's feelings and meet her for dinner even when she was exhausted from work. Myrna would feel drained after these dinners and depressed for a few days after, never realizing it was because she had abandoned herself.

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A Challenging Journey: From Mind Focus to Body Focus

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Do you spend most of your time focused in your mind or your body? Are you staying in your mind as a way to avoid responsibility for your feelings?

"Breathe into your body and notice what you are feeling," I said to Bryan in our second phone session. "What are you feeling?"

"I feel bad and uncomfortable. I don't like focusing in my body."

"Where do you focus most of the time?"

"In my mind. I think about work all day and then the rest of the time I daydream or think of other things."

"So you do all you can to stay in your head and out of your body - right?"

"Right. It doesn't feel good in my body."

"Bryan, imagine that you always ignore your little daughter, and then when you finally do give her some attention, you find that she is upset with you for ignoring her all the time - and then you ignore her more because you don't want to know that she is upset with you for ignoring her so much."

"I would never do that with my daughter."

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"Is My Need For Attention Reasonable or Needy?"

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Have you ever wondered if your desire to share time with a partner is coming from need or neediness?

Sometimes it's a challenge to know what are reasonable relationship needs and when we are being needy.

Klarese is asking this important question:

"I am currently dating a wonderful person who I care about greatly. A challenge for me is his job is very demanding leaving us little time to spend together. I am aware my childhood triggers of abandonment are being tickled, however, I am having a difficult time figuring out if I am being reasonable or unreasonable with my need for attention. How do I discriminate between my codependent 'needs' and my true need to love and be loved while living my own fulfilled life?"

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5 Ways You Can Think You Are on a Spiritual Path, But Not Be

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"...The form our faith takes is less important than the love it imparts....The bedrock of spirituality is to learn about love."
--Judith Orloff, M.D. Second Sight, p. 166-167



The spiritual path is a path of love. There are many people who claim to be devoted to a spiritual path, yet love seems not to be a part of their path. What are they doing that they claim is spiritual if learning about loving themselves and others is not their highest priority?

  1. Some people attempt to use religion and prayer as a form of control - hoping to have control over getting what they want if they pray "right," or believe the "right" thing. Often, they are very judgmental toward others who don't believe as they do, which certainly has nothing to do with love.
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“I Don’t Fit In.”

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Do you believe that you are supposed to 'fit in?' You might feel differently after reading this article!

The other morning, I opened our carton of eggs to make my breakfast. I looked at the beautiful eggs we get from our local organic farmer, James Ranch. The eggs were all different colors—light green, white, dark brown, light brown and speckled brown. They were also all different sizes. I felt grateful that I got to look at all the different colors and sizes rather than the same-size, same-color eggs that come in the cartons of store eggs. The thought occurred to me—why is sameness so important to people? Why do they want eggs that are all the same size and all the same color?

I often hear from my clients, "I don't fit in." "I'm too different from everyone else." "I'm an alien."

"I'm different and an alien too," I tell them, "and I'm proud of it. I don't want to 'fit in' and be like everyone else. I just want to be me."

Many of us grew up believing that if we were 'different,' there was something wrong with us. In junior high and high school, all I wanted was to be just like everyone else. I never was, but I got good at faking it so that I could fit in.

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What Are You Afraid to Feel?

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Are you stuck in wounded pain due to avoiding your deeper existential pain of life?

We desire to find the path to peace, joy, and freedom. We strive to feel lovable, worthy, and secure. We know that if we do our Inner Bonding work and open to our connection with Spirit, we will feel all of that. Yet we don't. We put off dialoguing for days or weeks. We stay stuck in our misery or numbness. Why? What are we so afraid of, if we open to learning about loving ourselves?

I searched for many years for the answer to this question. Over and over, I would find myself falling out of grace and joy and into anxiety and stress. Each time it was because I failed to take care of myself in some way.

The problem is that all our feelings live in the same place in the heart. Pain resides in the same place as joy. We cannot numb out our pain without squelching our joy.

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Embracing Our Dark Side: Healing Anger and Shame

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Through accessing our spiritual guidance and learning to love our wounded self, we CAN heal anger, fear, shame and judgment.

Our wounded self is our dark or shadow side, not because it is bad but because it is cut off from the light of God. It lives in the darkness of fear and the heaviness of false beliefs instead of in the light of love and truth. Moving toward "enlightenment" is moving into the light of truth from our spiritual guidance. When we heal our fears and false beliefs, our energy lightens. We may even hear from others, "You seem so much lighter!"

Doorways to Darkness

Just as the light of God enters our hearts when we choose to open to love, the darkness enters when we choose to close our hearts and act from anger, fear, shame, judgment or hurt. This is what happened in The Return of the Jedi, the last of the original Star Wars series. In this movie, the emperor, who was the epitome of darkness, was trying to get Luke to join the dark side. He knew if he could just get Luke angry enough or frightened enough, he would want to kill his father, Darth Vader, and then the emperor would own Luke as he had owned Luke's father. The emperor knew that anger and fear were the doorways to darkness.

Our anger, fear, shame, judgment and hurt are the cracks in our energy field through which the darkness enters. The darkness can also enter when we cloud our energy with drugs, alcohol, nicotine or sugar. Do you recall the trial in San Francisco that employed the infamous "Twinkie defense"? About twenty years ago, the mayor and a city supervisor were shot down inside City Hall and their killer got a short sentence because of his "diminished capacity" due to having eaten a diet of only junk food.

In one of my dialogues with my spiritual guidance, she challenged me about darkness. She said, "Margaret, you have worked for many years to be physically healthy. Not only that, you have striven to be immune to illness. Likewise, for many years you have sought to become a more loving person. Now your task is to become immune to darkness." I was blown away. Becoming immune to darkness means never acting out of my wounded self's feelings of fear, anger, shame, judgment or hurt but always moving into an intent to learn about these feelings as soon as they come up. I can tell you, it's quite a challenge! I don't know if I will ever accomplish this, but it certainly is a worthy goal!

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Addiction to Spirituality: The Spiritual Bypass

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Are you using your spirituality as a "spiritual bypass" to avoid feeling your feelings and taking responsibility for them?

Lian had been meditating for many years before consulting with me for his depression. He had been part of a spiritual community that encouraged their members to turn to God through prayer and meditation whenever they were feeling any difficult or painful feelings such as anger, hurt, anxiety or depression. He had been taught that Spirit would transmute his feelings for him and bring him the inner peace he sought.

Yet Lian was depressed. "I have faithfully practiced what I've been taught, so why am I still depressed? What am I doing wrong?"

Lian was suffering from what is called "spiritual bypass."

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The Myth of Explaining and Defending

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Do you believe that explaining and defending will convince the other person to see things your way? Has this ever worked?

"What's the matter with you?"
"How could you do that?"
"Explain yourself, young lady/young man."
"Why are you dressed like that?"
"Why are you late again?"
"What did you do to your hair!"

How often did you hear some variation of this when you were growing up? I heard it all the time. And what I learned to do was to desperately defend and explain in fruitless attempts to get my mom or dad to stop judging me and SEE me. Or I would apologize and become the "good girl," so they would approve of me.

Of course, defending and explaining didn't work. But that didn't stop me from trying because I just didn't know what else to do - other than completely give myself up, which is what I eventually learned to do.

When I got married, I continued in the same pattern - first trying to explain and defend and then giving myself up. The result was, of course, no better than it was with my parents. Again, I had no idea what else to do.
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10 Keys to Inner Peace and Joy

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Most of us want to experience inner peace and joy, rather anxiety and depression. There are choices you can make to consistently experience peace and joy.

Inner peace and joy are spiritual gifts. The gifts of spirit enter the heart when we make the choices we need to make to be available to them. What are these choices?

Presence

Peace and joy exist in this present moment - not in the past or future. If you are in your left-brain ego programmed mind - your wounded self - you are likely thinking about the past or the future with a desire to have control over something. The moment you are out of the moment with a desire to control, you cut off access to the spiritual gifts of peace and joy, as well as to the gifts of love and truth.

Gratitude

The heart needs to be open in order to receive the gifts of spirit. Nothing opens the heart faster than deep gratitude - gratitude for your life, your soul's journey, for the body your soul lives in, for the food you eat, for friendship and caring, for shelter, and for anything else that you are blessed with - eyes that see, ears that hear, arms, legs, health, and so on. Being truly grateful for your particular blessings opens the heart to the gifts of spirit.

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Don't Be Your Partner's Therapist!

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One of the important things I learned in my own marriage and in my work with clients is that a committed relationship is NOT supposed to be a therapeutic relationship. We can help each other to learn, grow and heal, but this is very different than a therapeutic relationship. In a marriage, or close committed relationship or friendship, we can help each other, but in a therapeutic relationship, one person is helping the other. This doesn't work well in a partnership.

Caretakers often enter relationships to 'fix' their partner.

Caretakers often see themselves as healthier or more evolved than their partner, and they go about trying to change their partner – 'for their own good.' This puts the caretaker in a one-up position, which may make the other person feel one-down. I often hear from a client whose partner is trying to fix them, or who sees themselves as the ‘healthy one’, "My partner is much healthier and more evolved than I am."

Since we come together at our common level of health or woundedness, I know that this statement isn't true - that it's indicative of an imbalance in the relationship and is what is causing some of the problems.

Sometimes one person expects the other person to listen the way a therapist would. A client in this position asked me,

"What should I do when he vents on me and expects me to listen to him like a therapist might listen to a client?"

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A Powerful Method for Healing Depression

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Kendra had been depressed on and off for the last three years before consulting with me. "I've tried various medications and they help somewhat, but I still feel depressed. I've tried psychotherapy and it also helps a little but not enough for me to feel happiness or peace inside. I hate feeling this way and I just don't know what to do."

The first thing that I did to start Kendra on her Inner Bonding journey was to help her create a personal source of spiritual guidance. I asked her to make up a being who was very loving, wise and powerful to whom she could turn, in her imagination, for help and guidance. Kendra made up an older Indian medicine woman whom she called Elder One.

Next I asked Kendra where in her body she felt the feeling of depression. "In my heart and stomach. My heart and stomach often feel so heavy and sad."

"Kendra, imagine that your feeling self, the part that is presently depressed, is a child within. How old is this child?" She told me she thought the child was around six.

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Speaking Your Truth Without Blame or Judgment

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How often have you become irritated or angry, or given yourself up, or started to argue or debate, teach or explain, or withdrew when someone was treating you badly - ordering you around, judging you, blaming you, or dumping their complaints or negativity on you? How often have you behaved in any of these protective, controlling ways when someone is unknowingly interrupting you when you are trying to focus on something or get something done? How do you end up feeling when you behave in any of these ways?

The chances are you end up feeling angry, hurt, anxious, depressed, or numbed out. It is easy to believe that these feelings are coming from the other person's behavior toward you, but this is not the case. Your unhappy feelings are coming from not taking loving care of yourself.


For example...

Madison consulted with me because she was feeling depressed. She and Andrew had been married for 12 years. She loved Andrew and felt that they had a deep soul connection. Yet she was often unhappy around him.

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