Author Archives: John Maerz

About John Maerz

I'm an author, professional speaker and coach with a specialization in psychological study. Having worked as a counselor and as a case manager with teen substance abuse and in social services in child protection I'm a seasoned personal coach, adviser and lecturer and have a diverse background in the human potentials field incorporating personality influences, shadow work, nutritional needs, creative expression and personal desires while uncovering innate abilities and hidden potentials for my clients. I'm dedicated toward raising awareness and share my own unique understandings and perspectives about life’s journey and meaning. I, also, recognize the need for balance and accountability on our mental, physical and emotional levels as well as fulfilling our spiritual potential through our individual experiences.

If you will, imagine we are in a thick forest wanting to clear some space where we might grow some food for nourishment. All we have is a machete, a saw and a shovel and the desire to create our own space. There are tremendous trees soaring overhead. There are smaller trees, brush, vines and undergrowth, all with intermingling and entangled roots that stretch into each other’s space, strengthening their grip on each other, us and the land. When we look at the bigger picture, our task seems daunting and overwhelming. What are we to do? Simple. Dig where we stand. Make a space. Chop away the plants and the roots where we are standing. Work with what we can see and what we can expose in our small space. Pull it away and expose the fertile ground beneath our feet. Some roots and plants will come out easily; others will be stubborn and take more time and effort. We must be patient and persistent with ourselves. This is our space that we are reclaiming. When we finally break through and pull away all that has been holding the soil beneath our feet, we can feel a sigh of relief and a sense of release as we feel the peace and ease in our newly cleared space. Now we rest.

Just having become free of the strangling effects of the forest is, in itself, a relief and even a shock to our system. It’s as if we are coming out of a long tunnel and being overwhelmed by the light as we emerge. We are delighted and even almost surprised that we have been able to clear such a safe and peaceful space for ourselves. Part of that feeling includes a sense that that space is somehow familiar to us, almost like we belong there, and it belongs to us. As we relish the feeling of having our own space and the peace and contentment it begins to provide for us, our attention, once again, turns to the forest surrounding us and a sinking feeling of guilt and undeservedness creeps into our awareness. We have taken something that the forest around us had claimed and held. Did we have the right to claim our own space? Was it really ours or did it really belong to the forest? Do we belong to the forest? When we were a seedling the forest protected us and nurtured us. What do we really owe the forest? How? What must we do or be now? We feel torn between our own space and the surrounding forest. We feel doubt about who we are, what we have done and whether it is even “permissible.”

In our social environment, like the forest, any cleared space will eventually be reclaimed by small vines, roots and seedlings who will slowly begin growing into our space attempting to reclaim what was originally in their “possession.” But, remember, any tree who first began as a seedling slowly, slowly grew to dominate its own space in the forest and, eventually, provided shade and protection to others, like parents, through their presence. We realize then that if we are to remain in the forest it will take constant vigilance and clearing if we are to maintain the clarity and peace that we have created surrounding our being. Then, we must provide protection and nurturance for our seedlings as we expand even further. And they, in turn, will reclaim space from us. This is the nature of cycle in the forest. If we are to remain, we must maintain our awareness and a balance in our relationship with nature. But that requires being in two worlds at once; our own, in which we must maintain clarity, and the forest’s, in which we must be careful not to overrun its space with our intentions and actions or allow it to overrun ours.

The analogy of the forest is simple. To feel our own space, we must cut away enough of the outside influences to find our personal space. We don’t have to do anything else with the forest; just give ourselves enough space to move and expand a bit. It is only then that we can see clearly what we feel. And then, knowing what we feel, we can come to a clear understanding of who or what we must grow into in order to fulfill our intentions for being in the forest in the first place. As a seedling, the most difficult part is becoming able to feel and believe who we are in the forest and determine who and what we must grow into. The full-grown trees appear to have dominance over the forest, but they too are simply a part of a larger whole. We, as seedlings must, at some point, become responsible and accountable for our own space and growth if we are to grow into soaring trees. Creating and maintaining a balance in our existence with others is a hard task. Simply striving for and achieving dominance over our own space is more difficult than simply living in a completely submissive and servile position. Both of those are easy. To create and maintain balance, though, we must constantly pay attention to providing a balanced nurturance on two fronts: to our own space and to the space of the forest. This is what the mystics have called “Walking the Middle Path.”

Alone time, or our own “quiet space” in the forest, is probably one of the most sought after yet undervalued commodities in our materialistic world. We give it lip service but don’t understand the point of it. We struggle, trying to accumulate privacy in the world, but are so caught up in the frenzy of acquiring it that we forget to occasionally just sit back and relish what we have accomplished. Usually, during those needed free times, we find ourselves conspiring and planning our next conquest, all the while forgetting to use the space for what our inner self has been yearning for; time to contemplate, time to relish our own feelings and accomplishments. I call alone time a commodity because our Western culture has interpreted it as simply an acquisition in our daily endeavors while never truly allowing us to partake of its fullest beauty and advantage. This is the space we clear under our feet in the forest. It’s a place to relax, breathe, let go and trust that our space is our own and that we can feel safe in it, believing that there is nothing that can interfere with knowing what we feel there. This is the place where no one else wants us to be; where they have no control over us.

This is also the place we need to be in when we begin all our new endeavors. It's the place where we find our greatest creative potential and inner power. This is the personal place where we find our strength. This is the place that is completely detached from all the outside coercive influences and dictates of a judgmental society that demands our personal sacrifice for their greater good at our expense. This is the place where our heart felt desires and values are allowed to be expressed and build toward our greater self. It's an open  doorway to the calling of our spirit.

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When most of us make important decisions, we look to and ask what others have done. We usually feel confident when we know that people have already done what it is that we are in question about. And when we do what has been recommended by those we look up to and respect, we usually feel that what we’ve done is right and acceptable. Our measure of success is often governed by our sense of being in proper alignment with what our culture has suggested is the right thing to do. But even in doing the suggested right thing we sometimes feel a gnawing inside suggesting that something might be “off” but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Most of us will just chalk it up to an assumption that we just didn’t have enough information about the decision we needed to make and move on confident that things will work out the way we prefer because we’ve done what was suggested by those who have more experience than us.

However, a small portion of us will choose a different route. We listen to our gut and do what we feel will be best regardless of what others may think or have done. We don’t trust others because we feel that they can’t know our personal situation and all the mitigating factors. We think, “They haven’t walked in my shoes. So, how can they possibly know what I’ve experienced?” In this light we feel that it’s necessary to dope things out ourselves. We may then feel comfortable with our own choices but then may wonder whether we are ignorant of some other factors that we might be missing that someone else might see. Then we say to ourselves, “What will be, will be, and I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it” trusting that we will be able to handle what’s needed if something is different than expected.

We are generally taught both approaches by our parents and elders in varying degrees. However, they usually attune us mostly toward the approach that they most use themselves either through direct and conscious instruction or through the example of their own, mostly unconscious, actions while watching them as we grow.

However, both approaches may be used by the same person depending on the circumstances involved. If we’re dealing with something that we’ve had experience with, we may be more likely to trust that experience. If we’re not, we may be more likely to ask for assistance from someone who has had more experience than we in the decisions being made. Alternating this way is the most mature and balanced option to be adopted. But there are people who almost exclusively use one approach but not the other. This will tend to indicate that there may be some personal issues that need to be worked out. Each of the approaches have their own etiology and need to be handled differently. Let’s look at the first approach.

I call this approach the Outie. I call it such because, like the belly button, our center of “gravity” is outside of ourselves. Like when we are children, we are drawn outside of ourselves to receive the love, affection, and the support of our parents. This is our unconscious attempt to regain the wholeness or lack of detachment we had while in the womb. I say unconscious because in the womb there is no sense of detachment or disconnect from what we become aware of needing once we are born out of the inner landscape of our complete world inside the womb. Once we are born though, that detachment becomes more and more apparent as we are unable to replace the completeness we felt in the womb. We soon learn to become aware of being divided into self and not-self. Then, the outside world is born to us.

As we focus as an Outie would, we seek counsel, permission and information from our parents, elders, superiors, and anyone of authority in whatever venue we are needing to make decisions about. Sensing that the outer world determines how our life will go, we consistently search outside of ourselves for the cues and values that will allow us to align with the part of that world that can and should provide us with what we need or want. Growing up, the standards for our thought take on more of a scientific perspective as we look for evidence or “proof” that what we’re doing or deciding “earns” our objectives. We rationalize our actions, we come to believe (a choice) that the outer world determines what our actions should be. Our next step in reasoning arrives at determining whether we deserve what we need or want. We now remember childhood responses coming from our parents telling us how well we were, or weren’t, aligned with what they wanted or expected of us. If what we did was desirable by them, we may feel entitled. If it wasn’t, we may feel undeserving. If entitled, we now assume that others will also be obligated to provide what we need or want provided we did what was required. If undeserving, we instead learn to manipulate others into providing it.

Being primarily an Outie provides us a perceived benefit in terms of how we view our accountability for our actions. Being externally directed by our actions gives us permission to be free of blame for anything that we do. After all, if others tell us what is right, and then we do it, how can we be responsible for our actions? This is often one of the unconscious underlying motivations as to why people immerse themselves into religions or cult groups. Follow the leader and you’re blame free and forgiven.

So, being an Outie means primarily taking our directives for how we think, what we do and what we’re responsible for from external sources and from those whom we believe have authority over us or those to whom we’ve given our authority. Now, let’s take a look at the alternate approach of being an Innie.

All of us start off as an Outie but as we get further into responding to the outside world, something inside starts to rebel against yielding our power over to others for our choices and thinking. The “terrible twos” are a prime example. Remember that point at which we began having a gnawing feeling inside suggesting that something might be “off” but can’t quite put our finger on it? This is the point where things start to change. Somehow, the physical world starts to lose some of its “persuasion” over us and our feelings and intuition begin to regain the dominance and influence they had in the womb. Our spirit or inner sense of ourselves grows stronger where we are less likely to follow others or do what we are told. This is not to be confused with the Outie reaction of rebelling against authority. Rebellion still operates under the belief that the outside world controls our circumstances and is still taking cues from the outside world by simply taking an opposing or resistant viewpoint. As an Innie we may still have the urge to recreate the conditions we felt in the womb. We feel that we would rather do it ourselves rather than leaving it in the hands of others by acceding to what we believe they want from us.

Being primarily an Innie puts a whole different spin on things and marks the beginnings of becoming accountable whether we’re conscious of it or not. Granted, following our own path may provide us the self-directiveness that we would prefer, however, not taking into account others in our environment and what they may feel or say about what we say or do may have its own consequences. Let’s look at the motivations.

Being an Innie leans us more into trusting our own judgment and experience rather than soliciting the advice or suggestions of others. We feel this to be an advantage as it gives us is a much stronger sense of our own ability to direct the world as we’d like it to be. We determine how our life will go. We take steps to put things in motion. It’s under our control.

As we progress in this approach our experience becomes the validation for our choices. This allows us to judge our value based on our own experience and not depend on the recommendations or responses of others to determine whether we’re a “good” person or not in the eyes of our peer groups and elders. In a sense, we become our own bosses. We ignore what might contradict our personal common sense and reasoning. We become the person that Outies come to for advice. To excess, we become a non-violent anarchist ignoring anything that runs contrary to our feelings or that appears to be "politically correct." In the extreme we might even become violent or narcissistic.

Being an Innie has its advantages. After the world has responded to our choice, we can plainly see our successes and failures without the need to share the credit or blame with anyone. It’s all on us. We know that those credits and successes are solely the result of our own efforts and choices. We have a clear understanding of our own worth relative to our values and, only if we’re listening, the values of others. This creates and then reinforces the trust we have in our own intuition and gut feeling. For the Innie, trusting ourselves and following our hearts are the most important contributing factors in how we see and handle our involvement with life.

Innies are more likely to be introverts. Those who are Outies, extroverts. Introverts are more influenced by their own feelings and thought processes where extroverts are usually more influenced by the perceived feelings and assessments coming from others. Innies like to spend more time alone and might even avoid others. Outies generally often fear being alone and more often seek others for companionship, reflection and self-validation. The motives for both Innies and Outies may be conscious or not.

Being solely an Innie or solely an Outie will each weight us toward differing problems with our elders, children and peer groups. Innies in excess will often be seen as snobbish, anti-social, narcissistic, and evasive. Outies in excess will often be seen as meddlesome, wishy-washy, solicitous, and manipulative. Most people will avoid either of those types unless they are “commiserating” in their common excesses while supporting each other’s insecurities through rationalization and projection. Misery loves company even if it’s unconscious.

Being in any great extent toward either approach is not particularly healthy. However, we may behave toward one extreme or the other only in specific areas of life. For example, in technical issues we could be highly effective, proficient, and confident in that we have consciously developed experience and skills in such areas as art, business and trade where human responses are not as involved in how we perceive our own performance. Yet, in the area of people skills, we may not have as strong a sense of self or confidence due to our emotional history and upbringing leading us toward being weighted toward one approach or the other. The reverse may also be true.

Living in the world with others and being able to survive generally leads toward needing to have skills that balance our inner and outer experiences in our interactions with the world. The healthiest individual will have well rounded and integrated Innie and Outie approaches. Each one should seamlessly flow into the other when the landscape shifts from personal to public and vice versa. This will ensure that our personal integrity and social standing will maintain a clean and open interchange. The result will be an honest bi-perspective blanketing of self-reliance and confidence in almost all the different areas in our lives. Some of us will be able to embody this balance early on if we’ve received enough encouragement from our caregivers for acknowledging and supporting our own inner feelings and intuition in our upbringing. Some of us will end up struggling throughout most of our lives to come to that point. Others may never reach it. This balance is the primary mark of emotional maturity and personal accountability. We must all strive to become conscious of our patterns and balance them with the world we live in. If we are successful, we can truly be in the world but not of it.

Much more on this subject can be found at: www.EmotionalTroubleshooter.com

 

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We live in a tremendously beneficial country. Not only can we just go to the corner   grocery store and purchase the food we want but we are additionally offered a giant selection of different brands and types of that food. If we want to create an impression and look sharp to our peers and elders, we have millions of clothing stores that can provide outfits of every type. Style and size to suite our every mood and necessity. We have automobiles of every type and size to carry us to wherever we wish to go. We have the internet which allows us to inform ourselves and order just about every type of product imaginable to us. We are truly blessed. We can contact our friends in an instant and arrange meetings and recreational activities. We can pay bills and order food by phone. And to top it all, our medical system is one of the most advanced in the world assuring us that we will have the opportunity to stay healthy and have a long life. This is true for the majority of Americans.

Yes. We are truly blessed. But despite all this abundance, ease and benefit, our circumstance has created a very strong mental and emotional undercurrent coloring us in the way we view ourselves and the rest of the world. Most of us take our benefit for granted. Most of us expect to see that benefit every time the sun rises. Our consistent experience in receiving that benefit has lulled us into the expectation that it will always be there and that this is the way life is and should be. This perspective has numbed us to the fact that all our ease and benefits were built and earned by our elders through blood, sweat and tears. This country was formed through ingenuity, discipline, work and hardship. But the current generations are unaware of the difficult circumstances that produced our first struggles. They haven’t experienced it as our elders did. They don’t realize what it took to put these benefits into play let alone understand why or how. This is no longer taught in our classrooms except from the perspective of rulership, dominance and government structure. The literature that told of our struggles during those times is no longer presented in our educational system. The science of our omnipotence in overcoming nature has taken its place. Through the continued presence of our current benefits we have become mentally and emotionally insulated from the hardships that produced them. The expectation that everything should continue as it has is now the predominating perspective. This has produced an assumed and expected permanence in our daily routines bordering on entitlement.

But as always happens with cultures who arrive at the peak of benefit, a downturn was inevitable. The Roman Empire is the primary example. We, as they, have become, fat, lazy and complacent. Through our consistent benefit, we have found no need to apply discipline, work, endurance, or tenacity toward our efforts for survival. Nor do we instill it in our children anymore. Benefit comes too easy without apparent cost. We believe that what we need will always be there. Disease? That happens to others. Starvation? That happens to others. Poverty? That happens to others. We have convinced ourselves that we are immune to the hardships and difficulties that the rest of the undeveloped world must deal with. We believe we are, essentially, invincible and untouchable.

Now, there is a pestilence having risen from the east. It is not locusts or floods or earthquakes. It is a pandemic. It is silent, deadly, and extremely contagious just like the plague that left Europe in the Dark Ages in 1347. They never knew what hit them. They had no idea what they were dealing with. It wiped out one third of the European human population. History is now, as always, repeating itself. Empires rise and fall in cycles. We’ve reached the peak. The slide back down has begun.

Yet here we are with this insane perspective that we are invincible and that “it can’t happen to me. It will be handled by the authorities. I don’t have to worry. I’ll just keep living life and doing what I’ve always been doing. It’s not in my neighborhood. No one in my family has it. It can’t be that contagious. Stay at home? Nah! It won’t happen here.”   We have become insulated and so immune to discipline, work and caution that we ignore what the rest of the world has taken seriously and is scared to death of. We have, unfortunately, become impressed with our own delusional importance. The fallacy of invincibility in our perspective has become poignantly and terrifyingly obvious in New York and is spreading throughout the western world as we fail, if not refuse, to use common sense and precaution. The assumed “permanence” of our long-term benefit has left us with a life and death liability. Through the stupidity of our own ignorance we have become our own worst enemy. If we don’t wake up beyond our hubris, we won’t be here to remember it.

Unless you live under a rock, we have all felt the manipulative power of people who claim to be insulted, displeased, injured, antagonized or “sinned” against. How is it that we can be so easily affected by the claims of injury by another person? What is it that, in this social climate, now triggers such an intense and total obligatory response in us? I believe it comes from previously learned personal training from our upbringing. Yet, in an age when power and effectiveness are so strived for, revered and admired, how can this be? Do we really feel obligated and culpable to the condition of others or is there something else? I believe that there is something else. Something that lives deep within us. Something which has been imprinted on our psyches from childhood that has taught us how to respond to the world from an almost subliminal place. Something which doesn’t run our games, desires and goals but acts as an undermining censor, an interferer and an inhibitor for what benefits us and our family over the rest of the world. It’s something that has very fully but tacitly and slowly convinced us that our fate and well-being are in the hands of others. Let’s take a look at the dynamics underpinning this process.  

We humans will react to each other out of one of two motivations. Either we react out of entitlement or out of something lacking in us or in our lives. The alternative to these two is not to react which does not encompass most of us. Almost all of us have an ulterior motive for everything we say or do to each other all the way through to the most trivial of issues. We may want to simply have some attention, prove a point, or to do for or give someone something (which almost always has some desired or expected response  regardless of whether we’re conscious of it or not). Even making conversation is geared toward alleviating an uncomfortable silence or just to quell an uncomfortable feeling of being alone. The point is that we humans never do anything without some objective at the root of what we do no matter how simple or unconscious we may be about it. If we’re conscious of it, rationalization becomes a tremendously beneficial mental tool used by our ego and geared toward ensuring the validation of our choices and preferences.  Our mind is an extremely resourceful tool and clever in its attempts to protect itself while often fooling ourselves or others about the “rightness” of or innocence in our choices.     

Entitlement and lack are almost always the perspectives we act from. Both these perspectives come from a perspective, conscious or not, that the world somehow controls what we need or want. In psychology this perspective is called having an external Locus of Control (LOC). This perspective is learned and originates from the first moment we realize that we are separate and distinct from the rest of the world. As a child, this is learning that there is a self and a not self. Internal LOC, the perspective that we control our own circumstances, originates from our own simple actions and expressions with no external stimulus or encouragement from the “outside” or “not self” world and is our original disposition and is essentially innate.

Just after our birth, and during the time which we were, as yet, unaware of any separation between us and the “outside” world, only the internal LOC is in play. We feel, move, breathe and exist in our own space. We slowly begin to learn what our actions will bring. We cry, we get attention…or not. We cry, we get fed…or not. We cry, we get changed…or not. All we “know” is from the perspective of an internal LOC. However, as our mind develops, we begin to realize that it isn’t so much that our actions bring us what we want but that it comes from something or someone independent of our actions. This is the birth of awareness of not self or external LOC. Since then, we’ve learned that our parents control a lot more of what we want or need. We’ve grown into looking toward our parents for everything including permission to be, do or have. We’ve learned the difference between self and not self and what we had to do, say or be in order to get what we want or need. This has programmed us for how much control we have or not over our own lives. As recently as fifty years ago, most people eventually grew into holding perspectives that resonated relatively equally between both internal and external LOC. We then came to believe that the world held sway over some of our circumstances but that we generally had at least a say, if not an influence, over what we had to contend with coming from the world.

But over the years our perspective has slowly shifted. Since then our parents have taught us to become more and more responsive to the outer world’s demands and requirements and to acknowledge less and less what our own feelings and common sense have been telling us to be, do or say. Encouragement for being ourselves has slowly evaporated and has been replaced with, “Listen to your parents. Listen to your pastor. Do what the doctor says. Do what the policeman says. Do what your boss says.” No longer do we hear, “You can do it or we’re proud of you or I trust your judgment.” The little inner voice acknowledging what we should be, want or feel has been crushed under the world’s incessant onslaught of what we should think, want or be. Pursuing our own personal path seems to be growing into an implied social taboo in the face of answering the demands of the outer world. We have morphed into feeling and believing that answering the needs of others must be accomplished first before we may be permitted to pursue our own needs and preferences. Thinking and doing for ourselves has sunk to the bottom of our list of priorities. This was the first nail in the coffin of our individuality and creativity.

In the last twenty years or so this depersonalization has been accelerating. How did we allow ourselves to lose so much power and influence over how we handle our lives? Sadly, it appears to have developed through our greatest accomplishments in technology. Technology itself is not to blame but what we have become as a result of its benefits. The most dominant and influential part of our technology is the media and what it has subtly seduced us into becoming.

The media has lulled us into becoming passive. We have become so externally focused that we don’t do sports anymore. We watch “the game” on the television. We don’t live our lives anymore. We watch sitcoms trying to imitate the “proper” way to live. We don’t go to college to get educated. We pay for credits so the world will “owe” us a better job. We don’t travel the world anymore experiencing different cultures. We watch them on television judging their lifestyle based on our way of living. We don’t have conversations about what is right or wrong anymore. We watch the news and are told by the experts, panels and pundits how we are to live, what we should believe and why. The media and its “benefits” have allowed and encouraged us to become lazy and passive. Through this increasing passivity, we have been coerced into not only not thinking for ourselves but giving up being in control of our own lives. We’ve become passive humans. Is there any question as to why we have become so angry and depressed as a culture and don’t understand why?

To add insult to injury, we’ve transferred our parental authority to the media which has become our surrogate parent. It tells us what is right and wrong and what we’re permitted to be and do. Following it serves our self-image of being “good.” Underlying this is our ego’s safety in the absolution of any responsibility for our actions because we are doing what we are told by the authority we have given our power to.

With our personal authority having been given away coupled with the feeling that everyone else’s needs must come before our own we have arrived at a perspective where we feel that it is inappropriate or even taboo to ask for what we want. This saps our energy and trashes any confidence we might have in our own ability and potential, or even deservedness, for getting what we want. In this light we have only one option to get what we want; to shame or guilt someone into believing that what we want is owed to us by them. This brings the “I’m offended” ploy into action.

In accusing someone of offense, we don’t risk being exposed as being inadequate or selfish while feeling entitled to what we are blaming them for depriving us of. Blame and responsibility for our welfare and status is squarely placed on the person being accused. From their perspective, we should feel selfish and insensitive while allowing them to capitalize on the belief that we should have known better about our social obligations and responsibilities to them. This is essentially a very convoluted passive-aggressive tactic on the accuser’s part with overtones of the “tyranny of the weak” ploy where someone feigns helplessness to receive benefit from others. The only difference between them is that one perpetrator will truly feel entitled from a narcissistic perspective and the other will feel abused and undeserving and are too afraid to ask for what they want.

Being “up front” in our culture requires courage and a strong sense of personal dignity (not to be confused with inflated pride). Since our fading culture and persistent media has driven us far into a helpless, undeserving and inadequate perception of our own worth, such a person who has become steeped and heavily invested in an externally vested LOC will find it much harder to resist or repel these types of “conscience aimed” attacks from the “me too” and politically correct crowd. The only “cure” for minimizing our vulnerability to these types of tactics is to bolster our perception of our own personally perceived value. This is easier said than done and requires a long recovery period that must essentially untangle the mixed messages our culture has subliminally implanted into our unconscious belief system. It requires absolute self-honesty and a willingness to forego the seeking of acceptance and approval of our current socially sanctioned groups whose rules qualify our belonging to them through the  sacrifice of our personal benefit and preferences in exchange for the safety and security that the group offers. The irony in this perspective is understandable through the sardonic humor offered by Woody Allen when he said, “I wouldn’t want to be part of any group that would have me as a member.” While in recovery and regaining our confidence and personal dignity, our response to an “I’m offended” accusation should be, “It is unfortunate that you feel that way.” This provides a social disconnect which lets the accuser know that we will not take responsibility for their unfortunate welfare or status. We may feel some guilt or shame related to what they’re going through but we must realize that we are not responsible for the choices of others. Chalk it up as a distasteful residue of the type of training we are jettisoning and should not have received in the first place. What should be going through our mind is “Charity begins at home” and “Doctor, heal thyself!”

Do you remember when you were young and you used to play the stare game to see who could stare at each other the longest without blinking? Granted, it was a challenge physically, but did you ever recognize, let alone remember, the feelings that came and went while you were doing it? Looking into someone else’s eyes is one of the first steps to becoming intimate with someone. And when you did, did you stop? Did you feel paranoid, self-conscious, or maybe even embarrassed? Or did you enjoy it and even get a rush from it?

There’s a lot more to intimacy than just facing off. Although, if you asked anyone of the younger generations what they thought intimacy was, the number one response you would probably receive would be, “Having sex.” So, what is intimacy? How is it different now than from what we’ve known it to be in the past? Does the younger generation really have a different understanding of what it means to be intimate from previous generations?  I believe so. Our culture has gone through a dramatic shift in how we perceive each other and how much we will let others “see into us.” What’s the difference? How could this come to be? Depending on how old we are and how we were raised, we may, even now, still have no awareness or depth in our understanding of what it means to be intimate with someone. There are many changes in the way we live that have contributed to the change in how we perceive and understand it. Let’s look first at its definition and then the history that brought it into its current generational context.

The word intimate comes from the Latin word intimus (1630s) meaning “inmost, inner most, deepest” and "closely acquainted, very familiar." We can see very easily how most people can assume that this can relate to anything sexual. Since many people are primarily physically oriented to their world, this may be the only way that they understand how to allow another to know them. Being solely oriented to the physical may be simply due to the inexperience of not having learned and accepted life in its depth yet.

Even in light of their having been experienced in intimacy, they may still purposely shut down from exposing their deepest darkest secrets to anyone else as a result of being physically or emotionally wounded.

We can all understand the second concept of being wounded but the first reason, youth, is becoming more the case as our culture socially and technologically “evolves” us into becoming more emotionally isolated. The augmentation of emotional isolation is becoming a very potent cause for many of the growing human atrocities that are taking place. Let’s take a look at how and why we have been “progressing” in this way.

If we turn back the way back machine to about sixty or seventy years ago, we see whole families living together under one roof. Imagine, if you will, that you’re twelve years old and living at home with your family. The house is fairly large. Living together are your parents, brother and sister, a pair of grandparents and an aunt and uncle. The house has four bedrooms and one bathroom. Your parents live in one room, you and your siblings share the second, your uncle and grandfather the third and your grandmother and aunt in the fourth. In one house this will be close quarters, especially with nine people sharing one bathroom. Before the 1960s, this was not uncommon.

With so many people living together, especially scattered through three generations, everyone is privy to many more varied aspects of each other’s lives than we might realize. If we were to “throw back” to living in that type of environment, many of us would feel extremely uncomfortable with the feeling that our privacy is constantly being challenged. Privacy and our luxury of having it involuntarily regulates our potential for intimacy. How? Living apart, as more and more of us do, there are more aspects of our lives that are not exposed to other members of our family. This is precisely the point that has enabled any talent, let alone the need, for intimacy to dwindle into the shallowness that it seems to be growing into.

The fact that living as an extended family together in one house does expose many of its members to each other’s private business is a catalyst enabling the necessity and our opportunity to learn, grow and become intimate with each other. If we live in close quarters with other family members, we are going to see and learn things about them that we wouldn’t have had we lived separately. This “enforced proximity” makes it necessary to learn behaviors and social protocols so everyone can comfortably live together without the threat of what we now perceive as a fear of embarrassment or exposure. Learning to be intimate in this way develops not only depth but comfortability in dealing with close personal matters that family members who live apart might never have the necessity or opportunity to experience with each other. The fear of exposure that I speak of is not only the fear of having someone know intimate details about us but the fear of them being used to manipulate us, almost like blackmail. However, this fear goes much deeper in leaving us feeling out of control with intimacy issues because when so many of us live outside of a close family group we don’t have the opportunity to learn how to handle them. When we live in close proximity of other family members, it teaches us how to deal with intimacy almost to the point where handling it becomes second nature. The younger generations who have moved out at an early age have never been trained or exposed as how to deal with the embarrassment that comes with feeling exposed, embarrassed or out of control.

Another dimension lost by living separately is that children raised in a close proximal family situation have the modeling of the adults in the family to show them how to deal with issues of intimacy. In this they learn that the world won’t end if they feel embarrassed and they witness the responses that they may choose to use to help them feel comfortable with it.

Even though technology and the internet seem to be “keeping people connected,” that connection appears to be a quality devoid of any depth in terms of how people relate to each other now. The connection seems to be one of following each other and aspiring toward independence, self-sufficiency and projected influence over others rather than any expression of anything deeper or internal. In messaging or texting very little of anything personal emerges other than a sense of belonging to a group or party affiliation. This is most evident in the political bashing that occurs on Facebook. What is the least obvious to the average individual are the clues that are lost when we relate to one another in person. That is, expressions, body language and the overall feel that can be picked up from each other in person are completely lost when either messaging or texting. Most of us have seen how easily our meaning and intention can be completely misinterpreted through the generic transcription that messaging and texting provide. What’s both sad and frightening is that our youth not only lives in their phones and cyberspace but perceives this method as being an “expression” of what they perceive as personal emotional depth. Having never been raised in closely enforced proximity to their family and others, how could they ever know that anything’s been lost?

Another contributor to the fading of intimacy is speed. The faster we move, the less time we have to think or assess what we’re feeling, let alone where it’s coming from or why. These days, everything has to be done at top speed. If you’re not fast, you’re accused of being not smart enough, slow on the uptake, have no ambition or even lazy.

It’s sad but many years ago salesmen were trained how to create the “bum’s rush” to push their customers off kilter so they would be inclined to make hasty decisions in the salesman’s favor while not understanding the implications or limits involved in what they were buying. When was the last time you encountered a used car salesman? We all know that when we are in a rush or get pushed into a rush, we often forget or not notice things that might be important. How can we recognize and listen to our feelings when we always feel like we’re being pushed or in a lather trying to get things done at lightning speed? At lightning speed, thoroughness becomes a virtual impossibility. These days most people have no patience with themselves, let alone with anyone else. Hype has become the heart’s enemy.   Intimacy requires patience.

The ability to know and feel intimacy has all but disappeared from our socially learned pantheon of recognized behaviors. Machismo and posturing have taken their place as the primary defense mechanism and as a distraction from the exposure of our perceived embarrassment or exposure. Due to the loss of becoming unable to experience or understand intimacy, almost all measures of humility, compassion and appreciation have rapidly been replaced with feelings of entitlement, outrage, persecution and belittlement. These operate as a distraction from our perceived exposure simply because we’ve never learned to handle the intimacy that allows for their proper integration and development. Most of the younger generations, although they’d never admit it, are now afraid of intimacy since their inability to handle it now signals such a threat for embarrassment through the exposure of their sensed but unrecognized lack of experience in being open with people. Because most of the younger generation hasn’t had the experience of living in the close proximity with an extended family and learning how to deal with intimacy, their perception and scope of it has been reduced to seeing and feeling it almost solely as an expression of sex.

Being intimate with another includes trusting others with our hopes, fears and perceived inadequacies while putting ourselves at the mercy of their potential manipulation and hoping instead that they will express their love by allowing our frailties to go acknowledged and unabused. Perhaps much of the violence perpetrated by so many is a reaction to their feeling of isolation and being exposed to the point of having to trust others by being intimate.

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Throughout our lives we all come across people that we really like being around. When we are around them we seem to feel up, confident, encouraged and safe. For many, we never look any deeper than just how we feel. Just the fact that we feel good when we’re around them is enough to keep us satisfied with our rapport with them and coming back for more. These are the people I will call the motivators.

Then there are those people we tend to avoid like the plague. We see them coming and we literally turn and move in a direction that takes us out of their purview. All we know is that after we deal with them we feel, deflated, depleted and discouraged. They seem to have a way of making us feel tense, doubtful, limited and sometimes even paranoid or aggravated. I call these people the disablers because they all seem to deflate or undermine anything we feel, say or do.

As a small codicil, I will also add that some of these people have a way of making us feel that we either owe them some sort of attention, we should feel sorry for them or even that we might feel obligated to fix whatever situation they may be distressed by.

Then, there are other people who circle within and around our radar who have a minimal effect on us as they might be benign, unimportant or superfluous as we have not yet had any dealings with them of any consequence. I will call these inconsequentials. Since we have minimal connection to the inconsequentials, I will not cover them. But we enjoy and seek out the motivators, and since we have the most difficulty recognizing and dealing with the disablers, I will cover them first.

There are many ploys that the disablers use, and I have given them each an applicable name, so you may separate a recognizable modus operandi for each of their rapports. Their motive for acting the way they do will, essentially, all be the same. This I will explain later after we have covered a few and you can begin to see a similar underlying motivation in their patterns.

The first is the ruler hawker. This disabler gets you on two fronts: past and future. When you tell them what you’ve done or are going to do, they cite all the rules and protocols that you should follow or should have followed before your action takes place with the understanding that it would only then be successful and “proper.” They may say this directly or quote themselves has having followed these rules themselves while also implying or outright stating that it is your responsibility or duty to do the same. The importance of the action you intended or have already taken is now reduced to the rules rather than the excitement or pleasure of the action itself. In doing this the rule hawker believes they have acquired power or superiority over you. All it does for you is deflate your enthusiasm, make you feel like you’ve missed something and convince you that the action you took or are about to take is somehow inadequate or improper.

The next disabler is the problem seeker. This is a future oriented assault. This disabler looks at what you intend to do and tells you what could interfere or go wrong with it. What you might hear from them is, “You know what might happen if you…?” or “How are you going to handle…?” or “What will you do if…?” or “How will so and so feel about what you’re going to do?” They pose so many contradicting possibilities that you begin to think that your intended action hasn’t a prayer for success. You come away from a conversation with them discouraged, dis-enthused and doubting the validity of what you’re intending to do. This disabler will often cover themselves by saying, “I’m just offering some constructive criticism” justifying their assault and preventing feeling their own guilt in knocking you down.

The next disabler is the disqualifier. This disabler is happy just to poke holes in whatever you’ve done, what you’re about to do or what you’re even thinking about doing. You’ll receive comments like “You can’t do that because…” or “They won’t let you do that…” or “You don’t have enough (money, time, resources, support, courage, stamina, etc…) to pull this off.” Everything you verbalize receives a circumstance or condition that is likely not to be met by you or anyone helping you.

The next disabler is the responsibility assigner. This can be applied to past, present or future circumstances. What you will hear from them is “You know that if you’re going to do that you’re going to have to take care of….?” or “Now that you’ve done that you’ll have to answer to…?” or “Now that you’ve chosen to do that you know you have to…?” or “This is something you should have thought about before you…?” This type of ploy seems to be designed to make you regret whatever you’ve done, what you’re doing or about to do. This also is a ploy, conscious or unconscious, that makes the verbalizer feel as though they have power over you or that they know better than you.

The next disabler is the expert echo. This can also be applied to past, present or future circumstances.This disabler tells you what they’ve read, heard or have been shown by professionals that assumes authority over whatever endeavor you’re dealing with. The result is designed to make you feel inadequate to your task.You will hear things like “In college they showed me that…” or “The guy on TV was from so and so and he showed how he became successful with…” or “My doctor said that the only way to overcome that is to…” and many other statements couched with the implication that they know the best way to do whatever you’re doing, have done or are going to do and that it will only work if you follow their lead and “expert” advice.

The next disabler is the Justifier. This also applies to past, present and future. This disabler makes you feel that you must justify or validate what you’ve done, are doing or are about to do. From them you will hear “Why would you want to do that?” or “You did what? Why?” or “What were you thinking?” or “Are you kidding me? You did that?” Their goal is to put you on the defensive, deferent to their authority and make you feel that you must justify your reasoning to them. This is de-energizing, demoralizing and depleting in its effect on your enthusiasm and motivation.

The last disabler I will cover is the sacrificer. This disabler makes it seem that what they recommend, or proffer, is given at their own expense and that you should feel that you must acquiesce, so that their “sacrifice” might not have been done in vain. We often see a variation of this disabler in a parent saying, “I’m doing this for your own good” or “it’s only because I love you that I do this for you.” Changing the focus toward the disabler’s sacrifice distracts the child from perceiving any inadequacies that the adult thinks might be exposed if their “sacrifice” isn’t acknowledged and accepted. If the receiver of the “sacrifice” is an adult, they will usually feel obligated to accept what is given at the risk of being seen as unkind or selfish if they don’t.

All these disablers offer a few common threads. First, and even if they’re objected to, they consciously belief that what they are offering is helpful. There may also be an underlying desire for recognition or gratitude. Second, as humans we all want to have an influence over the people in the world we live in. Sometimes this influence overlaps into a need for control as a compensation for feeling ineffective or inadequate in our own daily lives. Third, if others can convince us to align with the limits that they’ve created for themselves, they can feel safe and validated when they’re around us. The deeper side of this third thread is that if we don’t align with their ideas and methods, they may think that we could expose what they feel inadequate about and then they’ll have to deal with some sort of shame for being less than what they think they should be or are. It doesn’t matter if the exposure is real or imaginary. The effect of the feeling will remain the same.

All three of these threads, whether conscious or unconscious, are based on looking to others for approval or acceptance. More precisely, values that emanate from external sources are seen by them as having more validity than their own personal experience.

There can be many variations of disabler, especially, since their characteristics are often paired in different combinations. These seven disablers and the three threads they follow are not only easy to spot but very easy for us to slip into when we’re feeling the least bit under confident. The idea of following an external authority over our own inner compass brings us to an interesting divide.

In living our lives, we live from one of two perspectives. Either we believe that the world controls our fate and that we are not responsible for our circumstances or that we choose our own fate and we are accountable for our circumstances. When we see the world as responsible for our fate, we employ what psychology calls an exterior locus of control. When we believe that we control our fate we employ and interior locus of control. As humans, we usually have a mix of the two depending on what circumstances we are the most sensitive or insecure about and how much confidence we may have in ourselves at the moment.

Generally, those who have low or no self-confidence and who ascribe to an external locus of control believe that they must either respond to the authority of others or they will have told themselves that they are above the authority of others. Contemporarily, this is the land of should’s, supposed to’s and those who believe that they will never be able to live up to what the world expects or requires of them.

Consequently, aligning with external rules and protocols then gives the people who follow them a perceived permission to absolve themselves of any accountability if what they are told to do becomes improper or ineffective. Offering what we’ve learned ourselves may come from the heart but offering what others have told us is proper or appropriate comes from a defensive feeling of based on responsibility or subservience. Conversely, if we feel good about ourselves, we have no need to influence or change others. This brings us to the motivators. Their authority is, essentially, internal and based on their own experience rather than what they’ve been taught or told. They may recognize and follow what authority may be externally appropriate but generally follow their own inner promptings for what they choose to do.

From motivators we hear things like “good job” or “now, you’ve got it” or “you can do it” or “I knew you had it in you” or if from a parent “I’m proud of you. ”Motivators emphasize support and the positive and encouraging side of tasks done by the people they encounter. They uplift and energize us by the things that they say. We have no call  to feel ashamed, inadequate or undeserving. On the contrary, disablers garner just that; shame, feelings of inadequacy and undeservedness but most of all, they deflate the enthusiasm and willingness of their “victims” to meet the trials and challenges of daily life. Because most of the disabler’s activities are proffered as being “constructive criticism” while even stating that they’re “just being helpful” or that they “just want to make sure that you’re aware,” they easily slip in and sabotage the confidence of the people that they are claiming to “help.”

Motivators follow their own authority. That is, their personal experience serves as the validator for what they feel or think is appropriate for them. Because they have learned to have confidence in their own counsel and experience, they feel no need to assert themselves over others or to validate themselves by seeking external approval. Because they feel comfortable in their own skin, they are able to allow themselves to give compliments and encouragement to others should they have a mind or heart to. Odds are, they are giving from the heart but not for any recognition or from any need to cloak their own perceived inadequacy through “service.”

Disablers come from a place of perceived self-inadequacy or shame over their own experience or lack of it. Almost all of this is unconscious. If a disabler is able to convince you to agree with their “recommendations” or cautions, attention is distracted away from their own history and they feel less threat for risk of exposure. They believe that this will keep them safe from outside judgment while also giving them the perception of power over you. By acting this way, they are, essentially, doing to you what they have been trained into, namely, following others to gain approval as a valued and respected (loved) individual. Another benefit for the disabler is that if they can convince you to follow their “advice,” they feel needed and useful; something they likely didn’t feel when they were growing up.

Whether you feel that you’re a motivator or a disabler, please understand that we all go through both of these at some time in our lives but eventually settle into, primarily, one or the other depending on how we feel about ourselves at the time and where we’ve learned to draw our authority from. Generally, those who look outside themselves for validation, and whose confidence in them depends on the responses of others, are more likely to become disablers. It’s important to understand that many people who swear that they trust themselves unconsciously only align themselves with what others around them espouse as the truth and what is “right” and “proper.” They honestly believe that what they are deciding is by virtue of their own guidance. Those who have learned to become confident in their own perceptions and who validate themselves through their own experience gravitate more toward being a motivator. The urgings of others have little effect on what they decide is true for them. The key to becoming more one than the other lies in our ability, or inability, to trust and validate ourselves based on our own experience rather than what we’re told or taught by others. Currently, our educational system is almost totally geared toward encouraging children to look outside of themselves to know what is “right” and “proper” for their clan or social group. The well-being of their own heart never enters the picture and is nowhere to be found in the new curriculums. The outgrowth of this is political correctness.

These days, following our own inner leanings as opposed to addressing ourselves solely to needs of others has become personal characteristic that induces a label of selfishness leading to the withdrawal of support from our clan or social group. It takes courage and a strong heart to overcome the need to belong rather than to align ourselves with our own intuition and inner urgings, especially, if following our own drummer denies our group’s expectations of us. This form of social blackmail has depressed and silenced many a good soul.

To be a disabler means that your Self-Trust has been shut down and that you are letting the world tell you who you are and who you should be. To be a motivator means that you have a strong heart, listen to yourself, and trust yourself and that you don’t need to convince others that your way is best in order to validate your own self-worth.

 

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Our Constitution guarantees us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Bill of Rights and the following amendments dictate that we shall all treat each other equally in any public venue whether through race, religion, ethnicity or social “class.”

Although it’s not possible to legislate morality, the law does make provisions and consequences for abiding by our Constitution and its laws. However, until an offense is observed and officially objected to, we are all left mostly to our own consciences to determine what actions must be taken and how far we can or must go in aligning with those Constitutional dictates. Yet, in the Constitution there appears to be a lot of room for interpretation…or misinterpretation depending on what perspectives are taken and what level of perception exists within our personal and cultural dictates or, namely, each of our clans. It appears that equality among our citizens is not enough for some. Diversity is no longer simply a tolerable perspective but seems to be developing into a problem involving an expectation of deference. Contemporarily, it has ceased being regarded as an allowance and now appears to have become a requirement amidst what behaviors and preferences are expected or required among our citizens and depending on our clans and our affiliation with them. Diversity is no more regarded as a permissible allowance but now a required deference. So, what has happened to our concept of equality?

First then, what is diversity and second, how should it be regarded in relation to our citizens and how we treat each other? To understand this, we must first look at its meaning and then how it is being expressed and can be best applied.

Diversity, as a derivative of divert from the Latin divertere (14c), is “to change the direction or course of; change the aim or destination of; or turn aside or away." Simply put, it is simply changing direction. But as with all words of any import, time and culture add dimensions that are not often understood or agreed with, especially, for those who have a classical or literary education of which most of us, especially recently, don’t. In our common language we interpret the word as simply being different but in our deeper and perhaps unconscious perception we receive its meaning as a need for turning away from our own familiar direction and preference.

Our current confusion with diversity expresses itself in concert through several different perceptual avenues; inequality, the social erosion of thinking for ourselves, low or high cultural context, religion and lack of individual courage.  Let’s first look at inequality.

Almost everyone has a need to belong and be accepted as they are without any requirement to meet standards that might be different from what we have become familiar with or trained into. In the same way, different races and cultures, invariably, differ from each other in what is preferred, trained and then expected by our respective clans. When another culture or race intermingles with the long-time standing tradition of the cultural or race oriented behavior of our country, we feel an almost automatic resistance toward their behaving or their doing things any differently than what we’ve become familiar with. This not only extends to new changes between a traditional culture and a commingling culture, but even to anyone of our own culture entering our environment that does things differently, consequently, assuming that we will adjust to them in any way. Now, let’s take a look at thinking for ourselves.

There is a growing social erosion of thinking for ourselves that is becoming more and more prevalent every day. We seem to have experts and pundits espousing social rules for our behavior in every daily activity we find ourselves involved in. Doctors have received Carte Blanche in dictating their rules about our health. Advertisements tell us what we must do to smell “right,” look “right,” be smarter, faster, cooler, more intelligent, more desirable and wealthy. There is a drug that’s appropriate for every ailment under the sun independent of any causative circumstances or actions we should consider ourselves. On every level we’re being told what to think, feel, and what we should want. The insinuation is that if we don’t follow the socially prescribed rules we are labeled as odd, inadequate, unlovable, undesirable, and should be abandoned or ostracized by socially “acceptable” groups. There is something wrong with us if we even support the “wrong” political party. We’re slowly being trained out of thinking for ourselves. We’re being conditioned to consult an “outside source” for even unimportant decisions for fear of being criticized, shamed or ostracized by our peer group. On top of that, everyone of any influence is being investigated for anything that appears to be wrong doing. We’re now seen guilty by our accusers until proven innocent. We are being made to feel paranoid over the validity or properness of any action or inaction we take. We’ve been trained to become afraid of expressing ourselves in public for fear of reprimand or shame, especially, on college campuses. Now, let’s take a look at cultural context.

Our Western culture, especially in the U.S., has developed a pattern of values based on independence, individual accomplishments, self-reliance, personal strength and responsibility and being “actualized”, as a psychologist would call it, to be our level best independent of any outside support or assistance. This type of life perspective has been termed as belonging to a high context culture.  It is based on individual effort and the personal gain of recognition from a person’s peers and clan. Until recent years this has been the primary goal and perspective of most Americans.

Over the last ten or so years this perspective has been being slowly ebbing into a belief that others and the family are more important than any individual efforts or accomplishments. It has also been rapidly becoming more and more of a politically correct expectation that individuals should sacrifice their own interests and well-being in favor of the family’s interest and their clan’s well-being, political or not. By definition, psychologists call this perspective of a race or culture low context. That is, that the group is more important than the individual. In low context cultures the family or “clan” is dependent on the individual’s alignment for its structure, stability and well-being. Low context culture also has been gaining in a growing a current presence in our population now that is largely due to the tremendous influx of Hispanics into our American culture through an overwhelming emigration from “impoverished” countries.  Consequently, African Americans, seeing the Hispanic culture as having the potential for increasing their own influence and advantage over their host country, have recently aligned themselves in a similar perspective. For their elders, it is simply the resurgence of low context cultural traditions that were slowly buried during their assimilation into slavery as the African culture has, historically, been a low context culture. For the younger generations, it is perceived as a method to achieve social and economic advantage for their families and clans. Nevertheless, these minority cultures have serendipitously “co-focused” their objectives, mostly unconsciously, but still hold a conscious desire for their own separate advantage over the culture they have immigrated into whether introduced to it through enforced slavery, as with African Americans, or escaping their own national poverty as with the Hispanics. It should be noted that the earlier African American generations began with a low context culture but since their immigration here, their offspring very quickly acclimated toward high context objectives. This split between generations accounts for the mixed response toward aligning with the similar low context Hispanic drive toward achieving family and clan advantage. It should also be noted that the Christian base of our own population also professes to align with the values supported by a low context culture and have provided a virulent climate for the low context perspective to propagate. Lastly, let’s look at individual courage.

Having courage depends, essentially, on the propagation of one of two perspectives. First, that the individual has faith and trust in their own abilities and resources or, second, that the individual has the belief or hope that they will be taken care of and supported by the clan or family that they’ve aligned themselves with. The latter perspective has achieved an accelerated dominance in our culture due to the reduced tendency for people to actually think for themselves and the increased tendency for them to make their decisions based on externally dictated protocols.

All these factors may individually seem like they are inconsequential as to how we relate to other people who demand an attitude favoring their view of diversity when we relate to them. Yet, their combined effect produces a fullness of influence from so many seemingly different angles that it seems overwhelmingly natural for us to acquiesce to what’s being demanded of us. The fact that have been lulled or even trained into allowing, almost exclusively, external influences to determine how we act and believe is the primary reason that we have become convinced that it is our responsibility or even duty to sacrifice our own potential and well-being in favor of capitulating to the advantage others might gain over us; intentionally driven or not.

To look to the values and expectations of others who inhabit the world around us to the exclusion of our own gut feeling and common sense sabotages any semblance of personal autonomy or self-determination. Diversity has become a tool geared toward enabling the tyranny of the weak and the “less fortunate.” With the rise of a socially contrived requirement for acquiescing to the demands of this new diversity we have gone well beyond the tipping point for being able to save any autonomy, personal dignity or individualism that we may still possess. Despite the claims of our professed “superiors,” including those hiding behind the cloth of religion, we are not responsible for the fate or condition of others.

Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel

In this age of political correctness, racial profiling, special investigations, public assassinations and homogenized intellect- uality, is it any wonder that we have such difficulty talking intelligently with anyone without having to identify which side of the trending news or social gossip we align ourselves with? It seems that we must we pledge allegiance to a particular party, team, special interest group or underdog minority before anyone will consent to have a honest conversation with us. Now that we are just beginning to realize our privacy has essentially been obliterated, do we really believe that the Thought Police are listening? Does the Ministry of Peace have spies in our neighborhood groups? Is Winston Smith no longer the only one who must admit that two plus two now equals five? There seems to be a trending unconscious paranoia and public obsession with maintaining safety in anonymity while appearing to be in alliance with the socially perceived “winning” side. Why?

We seem to have become overly concerned with how others see us. The perception of our public image has become a very powerful focus. This has been strongly driven home by our witnessing the media unearthing every little thing that anyone of any notoriety has ever done. Everyone and everything is being investigated for some form of corruption. As a result we have become blame and prosecution crazy. Why and how has this become the dominating American focus of our time? I believe that this stems back to a “systemic” halted growth in our process of maturity and emotional development. How has this happened?

As we grow as children, we are trained to regard our parents as the authority for what we can and can’t do in our daily lives. For the things we want to do but are forbidden by them, we tend to do them anyway and then remain on the lookout for our being discovered by them. This trains us to pay more attention to what our parents perceive and believe is important than what we believe is right or appropriate for ourselves. As we get older and as our parents are either unable or unwilling to relinquish control over our lives and all along preventing us from maturing past them, we cut loose from them by transferring this feeling of authority to the outside world. Now the police, government, our bosses, our psychologists, our contemporary thinkers, our religious leaders take the place of our parents dictating what we can or can’t do in our daily activities. Over recent years, the media, with all its pundits, experts, priests, pastors, officials, social “elders” and investors seems to have been substituted for this parental authority.

This has augmented a tremendous undercurrent of paranoia in the average person. Most everyone seems to be petrified of being exposed for some social or legal infraction causing them to say and reveal little about themselves and what they’ve done or not that might seem to compromise their social standing. This has radically changed how we deal with the public. How does this progress?

These days it is commonly accepted that to converse with a stranger we must wade through conventional greetings that don’t really connect to the other person but only get their attention. This encourages us to believe that our safety with them can be assured and a comfortable format for interchange can be established. Saying “How are you doing?” doesn’t really want to know how they are doing but “tests the water” for our interpersonal comfort with them. Conventionally and with no connection other than this superfluous formality, it’s easy then just to move on if the comfort level doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. But these days this protective superficiality has extended well past initiating a connection deeply into the continuation of our conversations with them to test where the other person’s values rest. We now feel that we must ascertain who and what they align themselves with and what kind of authority or investigative media they might conform to. Even our educational system seems to have also been radically affected in that virtually no balance between progressive or conservative speakers has been allowed in college settings. Diversity of culture has become a sweeping demand effectively censoring individual opinion if it differs with the prevailing tendency toward deference in favor of socially acceptable views. Minority and special interest groups have made us feel that to express an opinion differing from their interests qualifies us as being racist and warrants admonishment or prosecution of some sort.

In our contemporary landscape social bonding has been evolving into a required alignment with others who express social dissatisfaction with any entity that expresses views that threaten their emotional security or exposes individual preferences to social scrutiny. Bonding with others through pain or dissidence is and has been an unhealthy way to approach the world. It does not allow free expression under the threat of banishment in the face of keeping up our public image.

On the surface the pendulum of free expression has reached an extreme in the suppression of allowing individual preferences to even reach the light of day under the threat of exposure, negative labeling, banishment or even persecution and prosecution.

Have we taken the requirement to align with diversity too far? Are we really threatened or offended by any opinion that even hints at diminishing or limiting any minority group’s advantage? How much handicap parking must we endure? How many languages must our official documents be translated into? How much lower must we reduce educational and skilled job requirements so we’re not seen as racist or discriminating? How much Affirmative Action must be allowed to penetrate our standards? How much must we restrict the expression or exposure of our accomplishments so those who are either challenged too lazy to work don’t feel less about themselves?

Are you offended? Yes? Well then, good! Now, get over it! You may now drink from the water trough of accountability that my offensively perceived questions have led you to. It will encourage you to dilute the indignation you’ve garnered against those who have not changed their behavior and not allowed you to project your own guilt, frailties and prejudices on them. This awareness makes it possible for you to not only recognize but to deal with your issues yourself instead of projecting them on others thereby becoming part of your shadow. Contrarily, are you not offended? Great! You are obviously not projecting anything on anyone and feel comfortable being accountable for whatever you are experiencing with me or anyone else.

As a contemporary culture we have taken the requirement for deference to the socially decreed underdog and self-censoring much too far. It’s time to allow exceptional effort and accomplishment to have full expression and exposure. It’s time to allow ourselves to express our pride and preferences to our peers and the public about who we are, what we’ve done and can do and what we like and don’t like without social emotional extortion threatening us with banishment, labeling, ostracization and persecution simply for being different from the prevailing group. Our current socially demanded and excessive expectation of modesty has become a lethal poison to our creativity. Becoming our brother’s keeper and provider has become a sanctioned monkey on our back. The concept of being of service to those “less fortunate” and in need has metastasized way out of proportion relative to the balanced importance it should have in our daily lives. It’s time to bring back the acceptance of some selfishness. It’s time to not feel blackballed or neglectful of others when we simply think for ourselves, especially, when it runs contrary to the paranoia contained in contemporary popular opinion. The age of political correctness has reached and passed its peak. We must catalyze its decline if we are to regain our self-respect and humanity…for ourselves.

For most of us, mainly in our current social context and deeply imprinted within our conscience is the belief that to be a good person we must do the right thing. It is also assumed that society knows what that right thing is and is watching our performance at any given moment to see if we are measuring up. When we do the right thing, there arises a feeling of satisfaction within us in relation to how our society and peer group sees us. We feel supported and secure in that we are accepted and have a sense of belonging to our clan. Yet, there also arises within us an undercurrent that gives us a gnawing and indescribable feeling that something is missing. It is as if something has been ignored or omitted relative to our own preferences and wishes. If we take the time, we then we sit back and feel inside ourselves. In that moment we realize that we’ve sacrificed a part of our own needs and preferences to the benefit of others. We might even feel a little cheated. But, we tell ourselves, we’ve done the right thing.

There is nothing wrong with ministering to the needs and wants of others. If we’re going to interrelate within our culture, it’s important that we also have sensitivity to its needs and preferences. But, by the same token, we must also be sensitive and responsive to our own needs and preferences even in spite of feeling pressed into sacrificing those needs in favor of doing the right thing for others. We must also do the right thing for ourselves, even in the face of being labeled selfish by those who expect our service. Both objectives must be present in equal measure within us if we are to feel balanced and peaceful in our daily pursuits within our culture. However, our current cultural perspective has been changing such that its emphasis has been leaning more and more toward service to others taking precedence over our own personal welfare. This meaning of doing the right thing must be shifted back to a balanced perspective between public needs and personal needs. However, in light of the direction of our changing educational system, this is not likely to occur any time soon. With this in mind, let’s look at where the evolving meaning of do the right thing has been progressing toward.

We’ve all heard this expression time and again. But for each of us, it registers differently depending on how and by whom we were brought up. But what do we really mean when we say the right thing? To define this will seem crystal clear for some of us but nebulous at best for others.

Rather than getting involved in a whole plethora of definitions, suffice it to say that the majority of us perceive the word right as meaning what is considered to be proper, moral and socially acceptable. That being said, there are many perspectives to be taken depending on our culture, religion, beliefs and past experience. This will make our expectations for ourselves and those we hold dear extremely diversified. However, any of our reasonings will fall into one of two categories; what we’ve been taught and what we personally feel internally.

In our modern-day world our concentration on life through the internet has encouraged us to be much more interactive as opposed to if we were left to our own devices without it. That is, we’re being groomed into putting much more stock in what the world outside of us believes and espouses to be true and proper rather than what our own heart may dictate. And although we’d also like to think that our children have been raised by us to think for themselves, the reality of the message they’ve received is if I am acknowledged at all, I must do as I’m told and what I feel or think comes second to world beliefs. The parental perspective of this message, usually held unconsciously, is do as I say not as I do.

Our culturally promoted world view, whether we are conscious of it or not, has evolved into the belief, or maybe just an accepted assumption, that a good person is to be altruistic or sacrificial to others by nature. A bad person is someone who is assumed to be selfish, self-absorbed and not considered to be a contributing part of his clan. In other words, altruism is defined as "having regard for the interest and well-being of others (1853)” and selfishness is defined as “self-seeking, self-ended and self-ful (1620s).” Unfortunately, our current society has been morphing into seeing any perspective in terms of only black or white. For many, the blending of the two is virtually impossible. We’re left with being judged as either good or bad.

Giving back to our society has become the gold standard for what is expected of us when we deal with the outside world. What we do in private, for all intents and purposes, is ignored by our culture unless it directly affects someone in public. Then, it receives judgments and consequences. This “manifesto” has been drilled into our psyches by the prevailing religious organizations who have their own control oriented agendas under the guise of the morality peddled throughout the centuries. The belief that God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed or Krishna are to be followed flawlessly as the only way to insure a rewarding afterlife and that there are special people and books who “know” the secrets held by these people. The expected public belief is to accept that there is an absolute universal perspective that dictates the behavior and perspectives that we all must abide by…with the exception of those who supposedly “know” the truth and administer rewards and punishments, of course. Bottom line, we’re trained into believing that the authority for how we run our lives is dictated by others who “know” how the world should be. Still, they were brought up as we were; following and doing what they we told. However, at some point they became aware of the manipulative dynamic in force, jumped on the bandwagon and assumed a position among the “knowledgeably elite.”

So, what is the right thing to do socially? It is whatever the elite dictates that allows them to maintain control over the masses (us). This funnels favor, opportunity, advantage and finance in their direction at our expense. So, what is the right thing to do personally? This depends on where we take our authority from. For each person it will be different. Do we subscribe to the absolute universal perspective peddled by the elite which almost always channels benefit in their direction or do we follow what our inner self or heart tells us is the best response for maintaining self-respect and domain over our own life circumstances? The former insures our safety and belonging in the clan. The latter often leaves us banished and without support as punishment for not ministering to the needs of everyone else before ourselves. To choose the former is easy but squelches our own preferences and creativity while promising safety and security through believing that others will support us if we fail. The latter activates our preferences and catalyzes our creativity but provides no social safety net if we fail. Oddly enough, these same scenarios resonate with socialism and capitalism, respectively. Think about it. The more we allow group principles to take precedence over whatever our own heart tells us, the more we move into becoming a socialist culture. One only has to look at other socialist cultures to understand the direction and circumstances that this migrating belief system will present us with.

To the extreme, doing the right thing has socially almost become synonymous with being politically correct. This has been cleverly developed into a weapon for coercion by many special interest groups also climbing on the bandwagon and looking for advantage through engendering guilt and emotional blackmail with our deprecating labeling and “excommunication” as its price for non-acquiescence.

So, what to do? We must each make a choice. Are belonging and social support the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our culture demands of us as the right thing to do. We may gain belonging and support but there’s a price. We must forego our own personal preferences and individual creativity in favor of the needs and preferences of others.

Are being self-directing and individually creative the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our heart tells us is the right thing to do. We will gain our independence and ability to express our creativity as we please but there is also a price. There will be no belonging, support or social safety net available to us if we fail.

One last point. Of the two choices, the latter requires more courage.  Who do you know who has been successful and has done everything they were supposed to do or were told to do? Odds are…no one. People like Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nicolai Tesla, Queen Elizabeth I, Albert Einstein, Joan of Arc, Jesus, Marie Curie, John Lennon, Janis Joplin and Nelson Mandela, to name just a few, have all followed their own path listening to their own heart and inner calling. Do you want to be successful? All we have to do is listen to that small voice inside us, muster up our courage and do the right thing.

What Has Happened to the News?

A commentary

When I was growing up, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and all the stable anchors in news used to tell us all about issues and events throughout the world. It was all comprised of facts, figures and information about the events and issues. There were virtually no partialities, no political agendas or special interest groups involved in what was reported. The important thing that I find so glaring as compared to today’s news stations is that, then, there was a horde of reporters sent throughout the world gathering facts, figures and tangible information almost as if they were under oath to be factual and speak the truth about everything they saw and heard. Attendant with each thirty-minute broadcast was also only about seven to eight minutes of commercial advertisements. Things have changed. Today’s news appears to be VERY different in many ways.

The dictionary defines news as the announcing of current events and their attendant information and details.  Although we say that we have become an information driven society, we receive reports with a few morsels of information which are then followed by a deluge of opinions and perspectives that take center stage in almost every report. When a news report or “breaking news” is announced, the content is usually one of three stories which has been beaten to death from every possible angle and perspective. Panels, pundits and experts that most of us have never even heard of expound opinions and personal thoughts based on their own political affiliations and financial agendas. And even then, once the discussion has started, it often devolves into a shouting match between opposing pundits on the panel. What has happened to the “reporting?” Where did all the facts go?  Is it really any surprise that “fake news” has been metastasizing across the media like a forest fire in California?

We have become deluged by our media with a tsunami of personal opinions, thoughts, perspectives and political agendas based on each station’s political and financial supporters. How can we know what’s really going on? Is the truth that we must listen to all the differing stations and partisanships and make our own decisions based on our intuition? The only problem with that is that our culture has short circuited the use of doing this with promoting political correctness and an expected approval of only culturally specific affirmative action. But when you point this out, you’re called a racist, a homophobe, a radical or some other blanket term used to invalidate any thinking that might contradict the prevailing underdog’s group objectives connected to the issue. To not speak out leaves your position in society superseded by those in culturally preferred minority groups and leaving you feeling taken advantage of. To speak out or object makes you a target by putting you on the defensive. In accepting this, our altruism has become perverted. What to do? How can we maintain our rights without getting trampled by every underdog group looking to be one up on us?  Our values are being funneled into a narrow view of the world supporting the expanded entitlement of the most current and loudest protesting underdog organizations. And if we don’t visibly support their demands, we are looked upon as non-compassionate or racist.

For a culture espousing the necessity of scientific research to back every fact concerning our existence, we have certainly undermined our world image and perspectives with a barrage of one sided intangible and unprovable beliefs and idealist assertions geared toward manipulating popular opinion by corporate administrations and partisan leaderships over our social actions and perspectives. The “news” presents the perspectives and the minority groups enforce them.

Little known to most people, almost all of the major news entities are owned by one corporation which, incidentally, is politically aligned with the “left” or a liberal ideology.  This then promotes a “subliminal” barrage of information geared toward herding the American public into aligning with a perspective that perpetuates a radically pre-planned myopic view of the world; sort of a mass mind control. If we are all channeled into focusing on what each group or public figure does socially that contradicts the politically accepted and fabricated view of what is considered “right” and proper in the world, we miss the larger scheme of what is really occurring in current events. In short, the media has succeeded in conjuring a tremendous distraction from becoming aware of current events in the world through encouraging the investment of our attention into petty social minutia. In allowing this to occur, we become the perpetrators of our own brainwashing program. We’ve allowed ourselves to become the victims of a large “find the pea under the cup” scam watching the pea under the cup and ignoring the manipulator and his agenda.

So, where does this leave us in understanding what’s really going on in the world? Where? Out to sea without a paddle. With virtually no solid references toward evidence or factual data, we are left with using only the opinions and perspectives of those chosen by the media to rely on for our knowledge and understanding of world events. This leaves us totally out of touch with the reality of things. Through the media, those in power have a totally attentive, obedient, responsive and eminently moldable population. Now we are ripe for herding and fleecing. Only those of us who think for ourselves can see the reality of things. But we are rapidly shrinking in number as our children’s education in history, mathematics, and literature is becoming homogenized into an Orwellian story line emulating the news and social protocols of 1984. But by progressively shrinking in number, are we becoming helpless in effecting any change back toward life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Let’s hope not.