Author Archives: John Lawrence Maerz

About John Lawrence 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.

MIND, SENSES & INTUITION:

The Building Blocks of Perception

How we perceive and process information happens from two “directions;” from the tangible outer world that triggers our senses and from the intangible inner world that triggers flashes of intuition. Most everyone is comfortable with using our senses because they are based on a tangible dimension of perception which is usually “provable” and verifiable by all five senses. What validates these “proofs” is also our trust in and use of time. That is, because we perceive a difference between what happened before what we are sensing now, our mind can easily see and believe changes in our physical world. Our senses work by virtue of the framework of time utilizing before and now and a tangible difference between a greater or lesser intensity. The physical world may be stressful but lends itself well to our belief system of, “If I can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it or smell it, it’s real” or “I’m from Missouri, show me.”

We accept and use our senses as the basis for our behaving rationally and logically. But intuition is a different animal. There is nothing tangible or rational like the senses that we can use to validate or “prove” the flashes it provides us with. It is intangible and operates in a timeless format. By most people, it’s considered completely irrational and has no basis in “reality.” Yet, for some of us it is considered a reliable resource for our actions and understanding. Even though there can be such drastic differences in our perception of reality, there is a third entity that can connect these two types of perception together and explain their workings between these two dimensions; the mind.

Our first two examples show us opposing camps from which we perceive our truth. But what position does the mind hold relative to rational and irrational? Its capability can act as a bridge working between both camps. Yet, most of us have only developed the mind’s tangible application. Its use is and has been sorely deficient in applying itself to discriminating and describing our intuition. Let’s take a look and observe how the mind works in both environments and see if we can make the connection to balance our use of the two.

When we see, hear, touch, smell or taste something, what happens? We discriminate a “texture” between the current experience and something we’ve experienced before and remember. It is the comparison of the before and now (in the moment) that produces the difference we feel triggering our attention and registering recognition. This recognized difference between before and now has gained our attention through the intensity or strength of a change, or perhaps the “volume” of the difference between two points of reference on the timeline. The variation in the intensity acts as a trigger for our threshold of awareness. The more intense the difference, the more likely it is to be brought to our attention and recognized. The more subtle the difference, the less likely it will be to catch our attention.

As an example, we can reference a subtlety or difference in intensity by comparing temperatures. If we move from a hot tub at 104 degrees into a swimming pool at 65 degrees, the difference in the temperatures between the two will most certainly trigger within us an awareness of the difference. However, if we move from the pool at 65 degrees to a shower set at only 70 degrees, the difference in the temperature between the two may not be of sufficient intensity to trigger a recognition in our conscious awareness. Our recognition depends on our degree of sensitivity which determines our threshold for triggering our awareness.

It is also important to note that even though we may not consciously notice a difference in temperature or texture, it still registers somewhere below the threshold of our conscious awareness. An example of this might be that we are moving through an environment where the temperature might be below our comfort level but we’re not aware of it. This may be so because we are preoccupied with other matters that are either triggered by a larger difference in intensity or texture or we may simply be preoccupied physically, acting or thinking through another issue. The point is that the texture or difference in temperature may not be intense enough to gain our attention. However, our unconscious mind has an interesting way of making its workings known. It has the ability to “put things in the path” of our moving attention in the same way we might arm a weapon before we actually use it. So, during our preoccupation with whatever might be holding our attention we may also notice the style or color of a coat that a passerby might be wearing. The meaning and usefulness of the coat are obvious. But because of our preoccupation we might not as yet make the connection to being cold. This effectively places the more subtle difference next in line for our attention once our action and focus on what we’re preoccupied with gets played out and the intensity drops. Then we realize that we  are cold. Another example might be like being in a room where everyone is shouting and one person is whispering. We can’t hear the whispering person. But when everyone else stops shouting, we can. An example of “putting things in our path” might be if the whispering person moved to stand in front of us. In other words, a more subtle stimulation may be perceived once the grosser ones are drowned out or removed and the subtle one gains more intensity (moving).

It is also true that one or more of our senses may be more developed than others and have a lower threshold for being triggered. This can be exemplified by imagining that we have become blind. We now become much more dependent on our other senses. Our hearing and sense of smell become much more acute. Our tactile sense becomes much more refined. Our hearing begins to listen for the reverberations in the room which enables us to use it like sonar navigation. The point is that each one of our senses is individually developed depending on our life experiences and according to the necessities for enhancing our safety and survival.

After our senses have been triggered our mind “pairs” with the experience offering an assessment or judgment about the feeling. This assessment or judgment, if sufficient enough in intensity, may be committed to memory and consciously remembered so our reaction may be prepared if the experience repeats. If the memory is intense enough and well-structured enough it may also be used to anticipate future experiences. Remembering our hot tub experience, we may, before stepping in, remember the previous experience with temperature and, if it was too hot, observe caution before entering. Remember, future is also part of the timeline and functions within the tangible  framework of the mind.

Intuition is a horse of a different color and a lot harder for the ordinary person to deal with. There are, essentially, two types of intuition. The first type is what most people work with and might not even recognize but think of it as instinct. This is when we are headed somewhere and we suddenly feel that it just doesn’t “feel” right. It gives us a feeling that if we proceed, things might turn out badly. Sometimes it might be precognitive where we find an auto accident happened at the time and in the path that we were headed toward, and sometimes we follow the feeling and it turns into a better situation than we had anticipated. In a very large percentage of the time most people don’t recognize the change for the better or worse as it’s happening or even after. And if it is recognized, its seen as a freak occurrence. Others can think back on it and recognize the value of what they may have felt at the time and consciously commit to paying more attention to future similar feelings. This type of intuition happens to large percentage of people but mostly in mini surges consequently adjusting their path through their life issues. This is also what many people would define as psychic or intuitive “hunches.”

The second type of intuition occurs as a full-blown panorama with circumstances in living color and depth. It happens all at once and in a flash with no before or after but only in the ever present now. Many people would describe it as a waking dream or vision. It is usually overwhelming and creates a very powerful impression.

One of the best examples of this type of intuitive flash comes from the writings of Ludwig van Beethoven. He wrote that an entire symphony would come to him in a tremendous flash completely inclusive of all movements and changes. It had a fullness inclusive of every counterpoint and key change in one tremendous split-second flash. It all happened at once. He then went on to say that it would take him months, even years, to comprehend it, organize it and put it down on paper. This type of intuition is a gift and usually happens to consciously productive and dynamic people. Whether they recognize it as such is another issue.

Very few people have this kind of flash. And even if they do, they often attribute it to a sudden daydream or hallucination. For people who are mostly invested for their beliefs and perceptions in the practical, down to earth tangible world, these may only be passing fancies comprised of irrational impulses. But for those of us who have listened and recognize that it is something on a much larger scale suggesting a path for our personal growth and potential, this can be a goldmine for creativity, individual expression and personal success. But those of us are far and few between. This kind of developed awareness also involves practice and a conscious commitment.

Since both of these types do not follow the timeline, they are not subject to the same dynamics that regulate the linear mind. That makes it much more difficult for us to understand and put it into a linear framework so we can exchange information about it. Although it can be rendered comprehensible through clever structuring of our language, it is still a very elusive and fleeting experience. Its dynamics work much more in line with the timelessness of a dream. A dream, and our inability to fully describe it, exemplifies the difficulty we face in attempting to bring an intangible and non-linear experience to the understanding of a linear driven world. Let me explain.

For most of us at best, remembering our dreams is a challenge. It is even more of a challenge to put them into a verbal form so they may be expressed to others. This difficulty in translation lies largely in the fact that our mental, and hence verbal, faculties follow a format that uses a linear timeline as its reference in order for us to express the dream’s structure and have it understandable to others. Dreams do not do this even though we remember some parts in a linear form. Perhaps it would be best to first explain what happens when we sleep so we understand the landscape that dreams occur in.

There are two fields of perception that our mind operates in. One is tangible, the other is not. The first is the tangible field and is composed of opposing polarities in the physical world hosting an evidence-based environment for our senses to operate within. This tangible or physical state can be exemplified by saying something is either black or white. We either see it or we don’t. We taste it or we don’t. We can touch it, or we can’t. This is the field that our mind uses to determine if things are or are not. Things either exist or they don’t. This field gives our mind the ability to discriminate between options.

The other field is intangible. It is the dimension of time. It operates in a past, present and future format. Our mental faculties need this waking, time constrained landscape in order to function in a linear fashion giving us a sense of moving through time. Thinking needs the linearity of before, during and after in order to have a field or space within which to operate. This dimension “regulates” and measures our sense of time in our waking state. This format is a “fluid” field for our mental life to operate within. It gives our thoughts movement.

But there is a major difference between these two states of existence. Sense opposites like white and black provide a state of opposing polarities that reflect the differences in our sensing of color, taste, sight, touch, hearing. It provides a two-way dimension. It either is or is not. Past, present and future, supportive of our mental waking state, provide a three-way directional field of before, during and after, allowing the movement of our thoughts through time.

Through these two perspectives our physical polarities allow us the perception of definition, what is or isn’t, and our temporal polarities allow us the perception of movement. When we “fall” asleep, we lose our perception of time. Our movement through the temporal world ceases. When the mind ceases linear movement, time collapses. When this occurs , we no longer have reference points for the linear mind to use. It can no longer function using the reference points

of past, present and future. Our linearity has melted back into the timelessness of dreams and intuition. The three-way dimension has collapsed. It’s like a house of cards collapsing into a flat pile. The pile becomes homogeneous. However, after we fall asleep, the two-way dimension allowing our senses to define our surroundings is still working. That is, what we perceive simply is or is not. Falling asleep is, essentially, the collapsing of only the three-way dimension of before, during and after but not the polarity of is or isn’t. You might assume that the two-way polarity of the physical world will give tangible function to the mind but it only provides the field for the definition of what is or isn’t needed to comprehend the polarities of separation and discrimination.

It is time, the three-way polarity, which allows the movement of the mind, making it active by utilizing the separation or the movement between polarities in a before, during and after format. This explains why we can comprehend the factors in our dreams but not comprehend their movement and sequence. Time is needed for that. In our dreams change occurs instantaneously as our awareness in the dream is refocused. We don’t perceive the degree of change, only the change itself. We “magically” appear in place after place with no memory of a journey between them.

When we fall asleep the body is no longer subject to the sequencing applied by the linear mind. The mental tension that was holding on to the stress of our conscious polarity is now absent and the body may regenerate itself through returning to a state of “mindless” balance. The body has a natural ability to reestablish stasis when it is free of external factors. The mind is, essentially, an external mechanism based on time.

So, now the landscape is established in dreaming. The effectiveness of the sequencing conscious mind has been “terminated” through the collapse of time. We are aware of the separation of things which allows us to define them but we are now in a sea of feeling where everything happens at once and everything is interconnected. This is the domain of intuition. Here, everything “occurs” in a flash, instantaneously with no beginning or end. It simply exists or it doesn’t. There is no before or after. There is only now. What we perceive flashes in and out; it exists then, it doesn’t…or never did. There is no past (memory). There is no future (intention). There is only the now of “it is” or “it is not.” When we change environments in our dream the two-way focusing of our is or isn’t awareness makes it occur instantaneously. Suddenly, we are just “there.” Are you finally starting to comprehend the fleeting quality and evasiveness of feeling this way? Now, with this perceptual perspective in mind, we can comprehend the stress and confusion that an infant experiences, leaving the world of timelessness and being thrust into our waking polarity defined and time driven world of linearity through birth. No matter how we ease, cut, slice or dice it, birth is a traumatic experience. Now, consider this; dying is the same change only in the other direction…back into timelessness or the dream state. It’s where we came from. It’s where we’ll return to. Physical death may be a hurtful and traumatic experience before we leave the body but after we do, arriving back into timelessness would be  orgasmic.

To describe our dreams or intuitive experiences in a timeless format, they must be communicated with words. How do we describe a timeless experience with time constrained words? Words like “perceive” or “recognize” are inadequate in passing on what we feel. “Perceive” comes from the Latin per combined with capere or “to take” (capere) “through” (per). “Recognize” comes from re combined with gnoscere or “to know” (gnoscere) and “again” (re). Both use time as a reference point. But time constrained words are all we have because our vehicle of communication, the mind, is structured with them through our perception of linearity. It’s how our mind separates and understands creating our ability to think – before, during and after.

The “half in” and “half out” state we briefly reside in when moving from dreaming to thinking from timelessness to linearity is an alpha state and the only place besides in meditation where we can bridge the comprehension of a timeless dream into the understanding of a time constrained and a mentally communicable representation. The difficulty is easily exemplified if we imagine communicating in the interconnected dynamics of a spider web. Step on it and it resonates to and through every other part. The best path for describing it is in terms of what we emotionally feel rather than in terms of our physical senses. The better we can understand the context or feel of an experience, the better we will be able to describe the interconnectedness of a dream and our intuition. Context can best be defined simply by saying that we talk around a subject rather than in specifics in order to give our listener a feel for what is “in the center” of the conversation but impossible to be directly stated. The more contextual depth we are able to learn and experience in our communication skills, the more able and proficient we will be in describing what we receive through our intuition and what we experience in a dream or any other “timeless” experience.

So, in summary, our mind operates as a discriminator and a bridge between our tangible and intangible worlds. It uses its polarized two-way perception to discriminate what exists or does not in both our waking life, dream life and intuitive states. It uses its three-way perception of before, during and after in our waking state but is decidedly absent in our timeless dream and intuitive states. This leaves us with a tremendous challenge in explaining to others, in tangible terms, what we perceive in dreams and through our intuition. The mind is a magnificent tool. It is not who we are but a part of what we can use to understand our life and what we perceive as we move through it. We are and have much more at our disposal than we can perceive or even imagine…

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COLLECTIVISM: The Personality Disorder of the 21st Century

How many times have you heard, “That’s what everybody says?” Or, is that something you might have said to someone else? When we want to convince others of our “rightness” this often slips out of our mouths. We know it’s not true, but we say it anyway in order to coerce others (and in some cases ourselves) that their best action would be to submit to our “suggestion” or accept our explanations. The coercing “validation” implies that if everyone else does or says it, it must be right or true and that if you don’t, there’s something wrong with you and you’re out of step with “everyone else.” This method of justification is the tip of an iceberg hiding a current tsunami of collectivism that has tacitly overwhelmed our psyches and radically infected our culture. What is this? Where did this originate from? How has it permeated so many of our personal expressions and actions so deeply? The answer is simple. We’ve been subtly taught to believe that we are no longer the authority on anything. For the “truth” about ourselves we must consult Google, our parents, CDC, the media, our bosses, and host of other entities we have allowed our power to slip away to. How did this happen in such an innovative and pioneering culture?

Our history has taught us that our freedoms and autonomy are our most important values to cherish. Yet, we now look to others for permission and validation on living our daily lives. In a strange and numbing mixture of ease of living, luxury and modern convenience, we have forgotten what it was to struggle in nature. We have forgotten that survival depends on our adaptability, flexible response to circumstance and, most of all, thinking for ourselves with common sense. We’ve been quietly lulled into becoming dependent on those same conveniences and the virtual social structuring that have made it possible for us to avoid the challenges of nature and what it truly means to face survival. We have amputated the recognition of our need for survival in nature from our psyches through the accomplishment of the modern conveniences and social rapport we have sought to use to make things easier on ourselves. We’ve made ourselves their slaves. We have become subject to the artificial intelligence we’ve designed to serve us. Innovation and pioneering spirit are now what “others” do, not us. Who are the “others?” The people we have allowed to take our power in our acquired belief that they know what’s best for us better than we do. As a consequence, our fear of “being wrong,” being incompetent or being accountable has now overshadowed our deepest instincts toward survival. The most ardent proponent of our subjugation has become and still is the media. We’ve let it, and even invited it, into our homes to supervise us. If you don’t believe it, just ask Alexa or Siri. I’m sure they’ll tell you what to do and how to behave. But how have we allowed this to happen?

Our normal cultural practices have laid a fertile grounding for the abdication of our personal power. In our beginnings, there is nothing wrong with this. As small children we have no worldly experience and no understanding of the dangers of life that could befall us. So, it’s only natural that we grow to be dependent on the guidance, permissions and restrictions imposed by our parents. What is supposed to occur is that as we grow, we have the apron strings cut by our parents through being encouraged to think for ourselves, make our own decisions and slowly grow into autonomous adults who can live independently and self-sufficiently. The kink in that expectation is twofold; the heralding of the arrival of the media coupled with an absence of training and encouragement toward autonomy potentially levied by our parents, teachers and mentors. As we grew and transferred our parental models to our teachers, police, priests, rabbis and government officials, the media stepped in and assumed the role of being our surrogate parents. Having so many of our survival needs mitigated by the many conveniences that our modern society has provided for us, we easily and naturally just slipped further into allowing the world to dictate how we live and think. Thinking for ourselves was no longer necessary nor desirable. It was clear how we should think and behave. We just need to become good consumers and go with the flow.

The second tier of this undermining experience has also been provided by the media in how they apply their advertising. The basic premise is that we are somehow not adequate, hep, woke, cool, righteous or with the “in crowd” (an archaic term showing my age) if we don’t buy and use their products and services. The implication is that we are “less than” if we don’t. This type of advertising has had tremendously detrimental effects on our subconscious and self-image. We’ve slowly been trained into believing that we are “less than” if we aren’t like everyone else who are using their products.

The current social trend is that we are being subliminally shaped into becoming clones of a politically correct image of homogeneity through our unconscious fear of being perceived as being inadequate. If we don’t act in homogeneity we may then be ridiculed, persecuted or even prosecuted. Being different now in our current social environment results in publicly being denigrated, insulted, accused of social “crimes” and then ostracized and sometimes punished. This happens not only socially but politically, publicly and even within our own families. The reinforcement for our acquiescing to homogeneity comes when we are accepted by the groups we try to please, fit in with and behave within the prescribed “norms.” Now, we can be accepted with open arms as long as we think, dress and act as “they do.” We’re now part of the collective. The ironic part of this is that in colluding with a homogeneous group of clones we’re also seen by the other clones as part of the judging force creating the coercion. Aka, the inmates are running the institution powered by their own fears of exclusion, desertion and devaluing and they don’t even realize it.

In aligning with and accepting these permeating new standards for subjugation we have unwittingly abdicated our autonomy. Our creativity has been cowed into becoming part of the banal collective for our fear of being seen as anti-social or damaged goods relative to the collective’s standards for behavior. Thinking for ourselves with common sense is now considered a hindrance to our collective social standing as it makes others feel inadequate, especially, if we’re right. Expressing pride or showing our accomplishments are seen as bragging and makes others feel uncomfortable who neither see the opportunity nor feel the motivation to excel in any way for fear of failing and then being attacked for thinking themselves superior for trying.

In passively handing over our personal authority to the media we have effectively shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to allowing ourselves to be counseled by our own preferences and experience. We are the frog in the pot of water slowly being brought to the boiling point and we don’t even sense the change. By now, we have slowly and surely given up our autonomy to our surrogate parent, the media. Any authority or permission to make decisions or take action is now based solely on external standards and the fears of the masses as reflected by who? You guessed it, the media.

What to do you say? Well, resistance is futile. Through our resisting, we will undoubtedly be absorbed. The Chinese have said that to acknowledge your enemy gives them your power. Metaphysicians say energy follows thought. So, the key is to literally and figuratively, change the channel. As Joseph Campbell instead suggested, “Follow your bliss.”

It’s easy to follow what we’re told. It’s more challenging to think for ourselves. It takes effort and we must draw on our own experience. There’s nothing wrong in seeking counsel from someone with more life experience and wisdom than us. But usually not from your neighbor, favorite cable pundit or co-worker. Not from the local gossip column either. There are plenty of people claiming to know the answers to life’s most puzzling questions. They don’t know any more than you when it comes to what is personally good for you either. Whether consciously or unconsciously, their motivations are usually to make you subservient to them or to validate their own choices of which they are unsure of, especially, if they are part of our current culture following the media. Blind faith in anyone or anything is a dangerous game. The draw for us is that it absolves us of responsibility for our actions and choices. “If the authority has told me this is proper, who am I to disagree…or be responsible?”

What’s the key? Think for yourself. Make your own choices. If they don’t turn out right, it’s okay. We’re all human and we make mistakes. It’s part of life. No one is perfect. We never will be. Being part of the “in crowd” is an emotional prison. Belonging is not all it’s cracked up to be. It makes you part of the collective. Risk being rejected. Allow yourself to be different. Allow your personal creativity to flourish. The choice may not instill much security but it will certainly be exhilarating and challenging. In the end, it will be the most emotionally rewarding and satisfying especially if it's done by your own choice and under your own steam.

For more information on Self-Trust, individualism, & thinking for yourself visit:

www.EmotionalTroubleShooter.com

How much do you want to belong? How much do you want to be listened to? How much do you want to be acknowledged? How much do you want to be followed? How afraid are you of being ostracized? Are you fearful of being alone? All these aspects contribute to your susceptibility toward Identity Socializing or having the need to align yourself with a particular group’s values and “rules.”

First, let’s look at where Identity Socializing comes from. In these times our current mindset is one of believing that our lives should be prescribed by our laws, religious precepts, and social etiquette and its expectations. We can easily understand and accept following the laws. If we are in any way religious, we can also understand and accept following religious doctrinal requirements. But when it comes to social etiquette and expected social behavior, it’s a bit more difficult to determine where our inner autonomy ends and outer authority begins. This depends primarily on who and what we have been taught to believe have authority over us. Over the last few generations this point of reference has been shifting.

For the most part, laws and religious doctrines for our behavior have remained relatively consistent. And depending on our culture, family manners have also remained essentially the same. But our responses to each other in public have been undergoing a subtle metamorphosis. This is not so much a reflection of individuals intentionally changing but more from a perspective of indoctrinated change produced and promoted by our changing media and political system. The initiator was and still is the media. The political pattern for change slowly followed suit when it was seen that the methods for media indoctrination could be used as a manipulative ploy for political agendas and the directive potential for its constituency.

When I say media, I am not referring to the news media but to the commercial advertising industry in the initial stages of its clientele’s psychological and authoritative “conditioning.” This was the beginning of their restructuring of advertising style when it first became apparent that TV and radio could be used to sell products to consumers. These first twinges of subversive advertising policies began to occur when the industry first realized that they could make someone believe that they would “need” their product in order to become acceptable, if not desirable, to their peers. This was our first “conditioning” into believing that we are personally not good enough as we are, aka, a real man or a real woman, unless we were using their product. This was the first intentional use of the media in the diminishing of our worthiness suggesting that the authority we should submit to comes from outside ourselves, namely, them.

While we are being raised as young children, we accept the fact that our parents are the authority in whatever we are permitted to do or how we are taught to behave. This is obviously done for safety measures in light of the fact that we have no worldly experience to draw on in handling our lives or the dangers it may present. This is also done to instill in us the rules and expectations of the society we live in. This generally keeps us safe and makes life with others mostly smooth and agreeable. As puberty arrives, a choice comes to the forefront. In us begins the stirrings of the need for autonomy. Peer pressure and competition become apparent. At this point many of us make a choice as to whether we will follow our own drummer or that of others. How much our inner nature we have been allowed to express in our previous upbringing is the major factor determining which choice we will make. If we’ve been over protected, we will most likely opt for following others. If we’ve been encouraged to think for ourselves and make our own choices, or even neglected, we may will likely take our own lead.

There are many other contributing factors facilitating our choices. We may also lead partially and follow partially. The human mind is complicated and responds differently depending on the people and their influence that surround us in our early years. The point I’d like to emphasize here is that, generally, it is at this point after puberty, or slightly before,  when our parents begin to allow us to make some independent choices or even encourage us to do so. But in recent years, and with the advent of technology, another surrogate “parent” has begun to step in and take over our family’s parental duties and influences - the media. Technology has inescapably brought itself right into our living space through television, internet, and now telephones. The deprecating advertising has followed right along with them. And the media has not encouraged us to make our own choices. As a result, many of us move out of the parental “supposed to’s” directly into the media’s “supposed to’s” never even coming to the realization that we might be able to think for ourselves or that we’re even allowed to. Consequently, the opportunity to think for ourselves has been voraciously annexed by the media.

Now, a strange thing has happened. The psychological dependency we had on our parents has been extended to the media and external authorities. As a result, many of us, especially the younger “indoctrinated “generations, cannot decide what we want to do or who we should be without seeking the endorsement and “approval” of the media and its espoused requirements for social desirability and acceptance. Additionally, after the political bureaucracy has gotten involved in media in recent years, the need for that approval has been extended to our social behavior. That has allowed political correctness to move into an acceptable and authoritative position. This became the icing on the cake for our social control by the media. This brings us finally to Identity Socializing. What is it?

Since the media has essentially convinced us of our lack of personal authority and has taken over the last word on what it is appropriate to be, do and say in public, our “surrogate parent” now has gained the control over the personal values of those who have unsuccessfully graduated toward thinking for themselves. If you have learned to think for yourself, this will a perspective that you will likely be unable to relate to. If you haven’t, you may even go as far as to deny this in yourself.

For those of us who have failed to learn how to think for ourselves, it has now become common practice for us to align with specific groups and the principles of socially identified sections of our culture. This way we can know what to do and how to behave. In order for us to feel unthreatened, we must label everyone else according to socially identifiable groups. They must either be a vegetarian, an omnivore, a yuppie, middle class, affluent, oppressed, a leftist, a conservative, a minority, an elitist, a racist, a homophobe, a feminist, and many other classifications that pigeonhole them into a group that can be “standardized” in our dealing with them according to the prescribed and profiled rules of the group we “belong” to. Now we can feel safe and “in control.” Even gender now has a selection of groups.

On first blush this may seem a little excessive or even paranoid. But ask yourself this question. These days, when we first meet someone, what do we ask them? What do you do (where do you work)? Are you married (are you available)? Where do you live (are you affluent or are you struggling)? Do you have kids (can we talk about family)? How about those Gators (do you watch sports)? Almost every question we ask is a gentle, slightly tacit probe to find out what group they classify with, if we should associate with them, on what grounds, what beliefs are promoted, and will we have to defend our beliefs and perceived inadequacies?

In our current culture fear has become much more of a dominating factor. But fear of what? From one perspective, it involves our perception of our safety and privacy. But from a second perspective, and on a more subconscious level, our sense of group belonging has become a much larger part of how we identify ourselves. Why?

With the encroaching of the media annexing our power to think for ourselves, the outside world has become our authority in making decisions. This funnels us into becoming much more conscious of what other people think of us. Additionally, with the breakdown of our family structure over the past four decades, our sense of inclusion in the family has been lost where an assumed unconditional acceptance might be expected to come from. Now, we must look for that inclusion and belonging in the social sphere. With everyone conscious of what groups we do or don’t belong to, our sense of identity has become much more tangled up in the characteristics of the group we wish to belong to rather than our own inner values. To misbehave according to group rules might result in our becoming ostracized or “excommunicated” from our preferred group. This would be disastrous not only for our self-image but for the love and support we might expect to receive from them.

Through slow changes in the family and the media, we now have arrived at a place where we primarily identify ourselves based on external group rules and expectations. Our individualism has been obliterated in favor of the rules of the group we belong to. Our self-image now squarely rests in our social identity. We can only gain a reflection of ourselves from how we fit into the narrow edicts of the group we have chosen to belong to. Any individualism separates us from the group identity and “classifies” us elsewhere. We’ve been homogenized. We now are the masses described in George Orwell’s 1984.

We’ve unwittingly sacrificed our individualism and our ability to think for ourselves for belonging through identity socializing and we don’t even know it. Safety in numbers always results in the death of creativity. Every genuinely great figure in history has seen this and moved past it in forging their own individualism while risking rejection and excommunication from their superficially defined social groups. Can you? Do you even know that this has happened to you?

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When we are faced with a choice, we make the assumption that there are two or more options to choose from. One of those choices will usually benefit us more than others. But what if those choices we colored by social expectations? What if the choices that more often worked best for us were somehow branded as selfish or immoral? How would this influence what we choose? Our upbringing and education speak volumes about how we would make those choices. And that education is changing right under our noses.

When we are children our parents are the authority who regulate our actions in the world. They keep us safe, guide how we interact and teach us how to handle the world outside of our home. But hopefully there comes a time in our lives when parents begin to allow or even encourage us to make our own choices. Children need encouragement toward thinking for themselves and toward asking questions about choices that lead toward asserting independence from their parents and the things that they feel are important. This process has been happening less and less in our current culture. This is not to say that current day parents are not teaching children how to interact but that the basis for those interactions are not received with the encouragement toward that needed independence in making their choices. Children have not incorporated the necessary qualities toward becoming self-sustaining. There is an underlying reason for this seemingly subtle absence.

One of the factors in raising children that must be acknowledged is the affect that the extended family has had on them over the past generations. This effect was extremely subtle but tremendously influential.

Up until about the forties and fifties extended families lived in the same house. Children had exposure to at least two prior generations. The grandparents who lived with them were often retired and had plenty of time to spend with their grandchildren. And if there is one thing that we can generally say about grandparents is that the love and attention they gave their grandchildren was, with few exceptions, bordering on unconditional if not overwhelming. This had a monumental effect on how children felt about themselves.

With copious amounts of positive attention, a child feels that they are accepted and loved. In this kind of atmosphere there is little hesitation for them to express themselves, but more importantly, to trust that what they feel and say will be allowed and welcomed. The grandparents usually supplied the most of this as most of the parents were working the majority of the week. When the family began to disintegrate in the sixties, the grandparents either moved to their own homes or were put in retirement homes outside of the family residence. This left only the children and the parents in the home. When this occurred, there was a decided drop in love and attention for the children left in the residence. Their opportunity for personal validation and encouragement dwindled. As their parents, the “me generation,” went through work challenges and their new identity difficulties, divorce became more apparent and many children, in increasing numbers, ended up in one parent homes. With the one parent having to support themselves and their children, there became little or no time for “quality attention” with their children. Children now had to look elsewhere for their emotional guidance and support. Enter daycare and “nannydom.”

This is not to put down daycare or nannies, but they are a far cry from the individual love and attention previously supplied by in-home grandparents. To exacerbate the situation, daycares, and nannies, then and now, were and are expensive and understaffed to say the least. Additionally, the people populating daycares and “nannydom” are usually strangers to the children and haven’t earned the trust that their parents and grandparents had. This now also makes discipline issues much more difficult to deal with, especially since there is no emotionally invested trust providing an impetus for the child to give obedience.

Rules are very important for living in the world with others. They keep us all on the same page at the least in terms of what is not only expected of us but what makes getting along with others smoother with less misunderstandings. Generally, those rules are made by the people who are interacting with each other and they are passed down from generation to generation with small modifications to account for social trends. But as the home family units have considerably disintegrated, those family traditions have fallen by the wayside and a new “family member” has filled the void. Enter the media.

Needless to say, the media is quite devoid of any emotional support or encouragement that would lead a child to trust them. This is not to say that there is no emotional content. There is but it is tacit and subliminal and has the opposite effect of grandparents on children.

The main thrust of what the media projects is an image of what we should be IF we are to be acceptable or desirable to others. It does not reach into anyone attempting to bring out talents that may be capitalized on for improving our self-reliance as the Montessori schools attempted to do. What it does to us and children, through implication, is stress that we are not acceptable or desirable as we are but must buy or become what they “recommend” in order to be so. Of course, there is always a price and a farmed email in the exchange.

Grandparents and some parents are more absent than previous generations. But the media is there now more than grandparents and, more than likely, their parents also. This leaves a gaping hole in the opportunities that a child may have to be encouraged and develop trust in their own ability for thinking for themselves. The grandparent that produced a child’s trust in their own intuition, thinking for themselves and taking initiative in making their own decisions is decidedly absent.

We are and have been becoming more and more open and even coerced to believe what the world thinks of us and what we must offer it. Creativity, except for commercial applications, is all but disappearing. Curiosity for the sake of knowing has simply evaporated. Novelty and gimmicks have now become more the trend geared toward having social amusement to fill the gap and gain approval. We have forgotten what it is to simply enjoy ourselves and immerse ourselves in activities that add to our preferred and needed self-worth and reliance in favor of our world image and its approval.

What is even more frightening, and depersonalizing, is the evolution of our school system. Previous education, at the least, had some hint of what the Montessori schools were trying to convey. They have slowly reduced their influence  into only producing skills for vocations. That, in itself, was acceptable and even admirable. But now schooling, including universities, have become fertile ground for political indoctrination further emphasizing the importance of the group over individuals. They include the “one for all” proffered by The Three Musketeers but blatantly leave out the “and all for one” part.

What the contemporary child has lost may seem unnecessary, peripheral or even subtle at best. But the overall effect of this reduction in personal trust in our own autonomy is and has been in a slow crawl toward diminishing personal creativity and self-sufficiency and has become the dominant underlying theme in just about every social movement. The need for the lost personal respect and acknowledgement of self-dignity is glaring. But to those who are currently in this personally diminished position, it is barely noticeable if not unconscious. But there is another dimension to our social development which has put another nail in the coffin of our individual expression. Enter technology.

The recent wave of technical innovations has been a tsunami in taking over the common tasks that have normally filled our daily living. Bluetooth switches everything on and off for us. Microwaves gives us hot food almost instantaneously. Audio players read our books to us. Computers teach us how to fix things. Television brings us amusements to fill our idle time. The need for patience, waiting, effort and self-sustenance has almost been obliterated by our technological advances. Instant gratification has become our dominant expectation of the world. Everything is done for us. If everything is done for us, how can we know our value as a human? We begin to feel useless and ask why are we here? We seem to have lost the empowerment that doing and deciding for ourselves had previously given us.

Lastly, the current thrust of social trending is subversive with a not so subtle coercion toward our accepting and believing that the wants and needs of others must come before addressing our own preferences. When this is not accepted or agreed with, a strong implication is levied that we are somehow selfish, racist, egotistical, inconsiderate, disrespectful, misogynistic, misandrogynistic and a host of other humanly depreciating labels.

Originally, doing for others at our own expense was perceived and taught as an admirable characteristic offered through manners, courtesy, and traditions and organizations promoting positive or religious human behavior. But that has slowly become drastically twisted in our current social etiquette. With the metastasizing and indoctrinating movement toward our shrinking self-worth, we’re being tacitly taught that it’s not proper to ask for something for ourselves unless others’ needs have been addressed first. It has become, essentially, an emotional blackmail ploy by manipulative groups and individuals who are  fearful of being refused if asking directly, to put us in a position of feeling obligated through appearing diminished in self-worth if we don’t acquiesce toward servicing their needs before our own. It is a passive-aggressive ploy avoiding exposure of their perceived diminished self-worth. The underlying assertion is that our preferences are not as valid as the stated needs or wants of those conducting the abuse. And if we confront this tactic and we complain, we are labeled as an ingrate and user of others. This is a degenerative and rampant form of projection.

Our values and joy in doing for others has been usurped to be used as a tactic used by abusive people. To go more into depth in understanding this ploy read my previous article “I’m Offended: The Moral Obligation to Yield to Emotional Outrage.

Personal power and its sustainability are subjects having many diverse perspectives and definitions for each of us. But our social underlying trajectory is and has been one of loss for our entire culture through the breakdown of the family structure, the depersonalization of our public rapport, loss of personal intimacy (platonic), and the indoctrination of our neutered identity through a calculated assault by our media. Our educational system has failed us miserably in providing us with encouragement, personal empowerment, or the enabling of our ability to think for ourselves. The growing mass mind progression into a “one for all” mentality is a blatant symptom of the encroaching loss of our individualism that has been running rampant within our societal culture. Age old traditions that have acted as guide rails have collapsed. Values that nourished our hearts have evaporated. If we are to survive the onslaught of personal diminishment and evolve back into the creative force that we used to be, there must come, in equal measure, a renaissance of personal creativity, education, strengthened individualism and personal empowerment for all of us or we will all disappear into only a monochrome shadow of the light of the world that we were becoming.

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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