Author Archives: John Maerz

About John Maerz

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

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Css-SubcssHow many times have we heard this or a similar statement? With the progressive advance of psychotherapy and analysis becoming part of our ordinary culture we have been given a convenient excuse for not being responsible for our actions. Or have we? Are we really not responsible for what our subconscious urges us to do or are we just acquiescing to the assertions of modern psychology that we may ease our conscience? There are many conflicting viewpoints but perhaps in order to have a clearer understanding we need to take a fresh look at the workings of our mind and it’s potential from a different perspective.

Css-subcss-uncssWhen we look at the origins of the word subconscious it is quoted as being a mental state that exists without consciousness. Since consciousness is defined as a state of being aware and sub means under, it would make sense to assert that the subconscious means the mental workings of the mind that are below our threshold of awareness. I think that most of us can agree on this. But wouldn’t it also be logical to assume that the experiences and incidents that exist in our subconscious were at one time conscious? That at some point we had an awareness of them? If that is so, then why would they be now unconscious or below our threshold of awareness? I think the scope of what the mind is able to focus on at any one time would be a deciding factor as to what is consciously available to us. Let me explain what I mean.

Close encountersIf I asked you to close your eyes and hold a number of pictures in your consciousness, you would probably be able to hold a small number of them until you reached a number of pictures beyond your capability. The mind has limits and can only hold focus on a certain number of things at the same time. Some of us may have better concentrative abilities than others and be able to hold more but we would all eventually reach a saturation point where it grew past our personal limits. In this way our mind and brain operate very much like a computer. The total of what we can hold in focus at any one time can be compared to computer RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is like a workbench Control-1that is immediately accessible and workable. Most everything else would be in drawers or cabinets (memory) until something else was needed. Our mind is just like that workbench. Once we’ve reached capacity, the workbench becomes full and it becomes necessary to eliminate some items from the bench to make room for what else we’d like to include in our immediate work area or focus. So, there would be objects and tools (past experiences and emotions) that would be out of sight or below the threshold of our awareness until we were made aware of their need and then brought them into the light on the workbench switching them with something we’re finished with. In an even simpler comparison, if we were eating a pizza, we could only eat one slice at a time unless we switched bites between slices and then the rest of the pizza would remain on the table. Yet, we’d still smell it.

Although our previous experiences, emotions and judgments would remain below our threshold of awareness, they would still be triggered by environmental and personal stimuli, but be unable to surface into our awareness if our workbench (immediate awareness) was full with other issues. Even if we multi-task like a computer, which many of us have learned to do, we would all still have to reach a saturation point where new stimuli would be unable to be perceived.

So how does this relate to our subconscious and the perception that the result of our reactions are caused by a part of us that is perceived as unavailable and not attributable to us? Here, the old statement out of sight out of mind is eminently attributable. In other words, if we can’t see or sense it, it isn’t real for us. Basically, many of us never even acknowledge something that’s beyond our immediate awareness. This being the case, anything that css-subcss-3triggers a reaction from our subconscious will be seen as not related to us and therefore, having no culpability for us. In other words, we believe that we’re not accountable for the reaction to it that we produce. Based on this, many of us claim that we “didn’t know” or “we were unaware” thereby justifying our lack of accountability where, in reality, it was our own minds that we overloaded with so many other issues that we never even sensed that there was something else going on outside of our focus.

Our subconscious works with or without our acknowledgement. This being the case, how do we prevent such actions and reactions from taking place without our conscious approval and accountability? The problem lies with us always keeping our mind full. The solution rests in our ability to regularly clear the mind of as many concerns as we are able as often as we are able. But with our fast pace and demanding culture, this seems almost impossible to accomplish at any given point let alone to keep space open for the arrival of any unexpected triggers and influences. If we look at our prior computer example, if our RAM is full (the work bench) and we don’t make room for the pending data, our computer will give us a message 404-errorsaying “not enough memory.” Older computers without safe guards will often crash before such a message is broadcast. This is also the point where humans mentally “crash” and, in extreme cases, encounter a nervous breakdown. Institutions are full of people whose subconscious has overwhelmed their conscious ability to handle an overloading saturation of influences. This is, also, one of the factors that have contributed to dementia and Alzheimer’s. For many, our energy seems to diminish with age and we lose the ability to keep control of all the things that we have held together for so many years and our mental faculties’ crash under the lack.

css-subcss-mazeGenerally, when we’ve completed a task, it is usually easy to drop our focus on it. But when we have many tasks which all seem to be irresolvable and/or are attended by a feeling of overwhelming, we tend to be unable to let go even when we know that it would be in our best interest to do so. Our culture has very effectively trained us into being obsessive with the need for control coupled with the instilled belief that if we give up on anything, we will be viewed as lazy or cowardly. This is tremendously compounded when our self-judgment is coupled with our social and familially expected responsibilities and required accomplishments. Multi-tasking may extend our ability but ultimately crashes even if just a little further down the road.

So, back to “my subconscious did it.” Did I really do it? Yes. Am I just unaware that I did something without cognizance. Yes. Am I still accountable for my actions? Yes, even if I claim that I didn’t know or were unaware. Why? Because I didn’t clear my mind properly in order to stay open and ready for new life experiences, especially when they trigger old and In a bubbleinappropriate responses. I didn’t allow the new experience to come to my awareness because I was tunnel focusing and obsessing over other issues keeping my workbench full. Remember, they are still my reactions. Of course I’m responsible for them. We all need to remember this the next time we think “my subconscious did it” and we have the urge to use unawareness as an excuse for not being accountable. Even man-made law says ignorance is no excuse for transgressions. We don't live in a bubble...although we might wish to...

Everything youve ever wantedWith every action that we initiate or participate in we will approach that action from a perspective that will set the stage for how the resulting circumstances will present themselves and play out. For most of us we will choose either for the completion of something or for having an experience of some kind. For the western mind, the goal is usually comprised of a resolution of some concern or an arrival at some anticipated place. Since we are, essentially, a problem solving culture based on practicalities and material concerns and governed by tangible validation, a resolution or destination almost always becomes the intended purpose of our goal. With the influx of other cultures and with the progressively expanding spiritual movement, the journey as opposed to a destination has been taking on much more importance. More and more of us are accepting that choosing the importance of the journey over the destination is becoming the most appropriate perspective for our approach. However, there is an even more subtle dynamic that sets the stage for what circumstances we draw to ourselves that altogether goes unnoticed. The manner in which we approach that journey or destination defines whether we end up aligning with the best focus for making the energy applied supportive for our assumed objectives or if we align with setting up our own resistance thereby preventing our objectives from coming to fruition. This agrees with the principles of the Law of Attraction.

CrushedCulture_ForbesThe difference is quite obvious to those of us who are aware of how energy operates. If we focus on what blocks our way to being successful, we add momentum to the force impeding the accomplishment of our intention. If we focus on what is needed to manifest our intention, we almost invariably accelerate conditions leading to its accomplishment, sometimes, even with an advantageous twist in our preferred outcome. This often seems counter intuitive to us.  It seems like focusing on what could be is irrational in light of the fact that we are predominantly so materially directed. Not wanting to risk being irrational or seeming to look impractical to others, we almost always focus on what is there rather than what could be. To us, what could be is judged to be Pollyanna like. That is, our contemporary culture assumes that a what could be focus rather than what is focus is immature, irrational and impractical. This is simply a function of our having been trained into always attending what is already present rather than on any potential beyond our observed limitations. Over emphasis on this is often a lethal hazard to what we wish to accomplish through having been ingrained in our childhood training and supporting a materialistic view on things. It exemplifies our modern day obsession with needing to be and feel practical. Our culture has been deceived into believing that we must behave like scientists by putting our trust and faith only in what we can see, feel, smell, touch or hear. Unfortunately, the result is the sacrifice of any viable vision that only exhibits potential without supporting evidence for the assumed guarantee of the accomplishment our goal. In this view we are blocked through paying intention only to what is rather than what is needed or possible. Even you, the reader, now would most likely also align your trained belief with a practical approach believing that it must be used to be successful. But problem solving, the idiosyncratic obsession of our western culture, The Outsideralmost always focuses on what is and in the way of what we want, often focusing on what prevents our success rather that what accelerates it and prepares us for its arrival. But this approach always fails us and flies in the in the face of how energy naturally and universally operates. The truth is that energy follows thought. It is mindless. It simply goes where we direct it. If we direct our attention (energy) toward limitations, it accelerates their strength and momentum. If we direct our energy toward our vision and what would, conceivably, manifest our intention, momentum is built toward creating it. Again, a principle primary to the Law of Attraction.

The crux of what we’re speaking about boils down to whether we believe that circumstances control our fate or our own will and intentions do. In this, we have to ask ourselves which is stronger, what is or what could be? To which do we give our power and expectations over to; the actions of the external world or our own will and intentions? Which moves us? Which perspective holds dominance with us? Are we the controlled or the controllers? Are we the creators or the created? If we are predominantly the created, we will spend the rest of our lives Odd man outdoing and being what we’re told. We’ll feel snug, secure and like we have a prepared and secure place in the world (dictated by others). If we are predominantly the creators (dictated by our own heart), we might feel insecure about our place in the world and are likely to be shunned and ostracized by those who are afraid of growth and change by having to readjust the way they relate to us. We will have little support and even less feeling of belonging. An independent path often starts on a lonely road…until we attract those of similar interest and those who have also developed the courage needed for independent choices and action.

There needs to be a balance between our heartfelt actions and intentions and what the world sees as our place in it. We need to have a modicum of both perspectives in order to maintain our momentum toward our personal growth while maintaining our ability to integrate what we’ve learned with the world of what is. Others will see us as their external world and they are compelled to make the same choice for balance as we do.

Please understand that I am not promoting anarchy, simply more of an even balance between what we want and what is expected of us by the world around us. Our culture has become so over weighted with evidence based values based on our assumed expectations of what is that we have been trained into and all but forgotten that each of us have just as much a right to pursue what we want without being accused of being selfish through ignoring what the world attempts to bully us into believing. We are not scientists. We are human; a combination of what is and what we could become. Do you want to keep repeating the same old patterns producing the same results? Relative to world changes, it is vital that we include more of what could be rather than only repeating evidence of what is…our past. Great dreams are all based on what could be…the future. They are the driving force for expanding our awareness and evolution as a species. Don’t be bullied into believing that the world knows best for us. Don’t contribute to the Peak-Successfear and ignorance of the “sheeple.” The world around us simply shows evidence of what has already been tried. Be curious. Be playful. Be creative. We are also part of that world that determines how our growth will progress. We participate in both directions. Listen to your heart first, then synthesize it with the world and its need for security in maintaining their status quo. Balance your dreams with the practicalities, yet, still follow your dreams. Look at them in terms of potential and preparation not as a measure of prevention for what we’ve learned to believe we might lose if we step outside the envelope.

soulmates-2I’ve written previously about soul mates and past life connections. But I’d like to cover more deeply the characteristics, dynamics and flavor brought to us through the recognition of our past connections. I‘d also like to clarify a major misconception about what soul mates are and how best to recognize them. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not is not as important as the effect these kinds of feelings and connections may have on you regardless of your beliefs about it let alone dealing with the dynamics of any type of recognition.

Before I begin it would be prudent to give you my take on what a soul mate is as distinguished from a simple past life connection. A soul mate is a past life connection with whom we’ve had a profound experience. It could be as lovers, enemies, parents, children, mentors or anyone with whom the experience shaped our lives and attitudes in an important way. Upon meeting in this life there is a depth of “knowing” them with a strong sense of familiarity as if we’ve known each other for years usually including unexplained feelings of safety, comfort or trust. They often come into our life during a crisis period giving us grounding and support and then leave when the worst is over. Yet, our arch enemy will also fit the bill but with an unexplained sense of danger, discomfort and a distrust of their actions and intentions. Simple past life connections are similar but without the profundity, intensity or unexplained qualities that are elicited when meeting our soul mates. There is simply recognition of having an indescribable feeling of familiarity as if we should have something in common through the connection but being more nebulous and much less defined in terms of our personal feelings and intuition. Past life connections may also be family members other than nuclear, personal associations and connections coming mostly from peripheral past life experiences.

The most common misnomer is that soul mates are impassioned lovers that reconnect in a current life and that once found all aspects of the new relationship will progress without incident. This is a frequent belief held among westerners in that our mindset sees life as a series of challenges needing resolution and that once these challenges have been met, difficulties will cease and the rest of life will end as in a fairy tale. But we must remember that life is a process and not a destination and that if our life continues, there are bound to be more challenges simply by virtue of the fact that we all continue to grow and evolve.

samurai duelAlthough soul mates can be returning lovers, this is not as often the case as we might think. The intense connection felt by the impassioned lovers can also be felt between arch enemies. In this we need to understand that arch enemies are just as tuned in to each other as impassioned lovers are. This tuning in occurs through intensely, even obsessively, directing an abundant amount of our attention to our lover or our enemy. Energy builds just like money in a growing investment. It must also be realized that if our attention occurs within a setting of emotional immaturity, the lovers can shift to being arch enemies on a dime and vice versa. The soul mate connection is one of energy and feeling not of circumstance. Yet, circumstances are simply the medium for the energy to express itself through. The recognition we sense between people is through our feelings and can range between tsunamically overwhelming feelings or simple impressions that are brought to the surface of our awareness. And those feelings are usually triggered through a simple act or circumstance.

It’s common knowledge that if we have an immediate reaction to someone upon meeting them that our feelings will always give us an accurate measure as to how good or bad they will be for us in the long run. We’ve all, at one time or another, found ourselves saying “I have a good (or bad) feeling about this.” From that point, and if our mind believes that our original assessment might be in error or that it threatens our personal image or security, the mind will come up with Rationalizeany number of rationalizations to either confirm or deny the validity of those first impressions. In this case and more often than not, when we let the mind have the final say and it disagrees with our first impression, we almost always end up regretting our final decision. But here, we’re not too concerned with how good or bad they are for us but if the impression triggers a past life connection. The biggest difficulty for most people is in separating animal magnetism from past life recognition. Most people assume that the magnetism is somehow a past life connection. This usually occurs with people who are not subtly tuned. But, if we’ve done sufficient work on ourselves and have learned to discriminate the coarser vibrations from the subtler ones, we usually can tell the difference.

In lieu of the fact that so many levels of information are presented on our first meeting with someone, I think it’s safe to say that it’s easier to determine past life connections after the initial acquaintance has taken place and the relationship has had a little time to become comfortable and familiar with both people. Once this occurs it becomes easier to discriminate subtler differences in the impressions and feelings we pick up while relating. Essentially, the more intense and often overwhelming energies have settled and an emotional equilibrium has stage set-2returned putting the discrimination of feelings on a much more refined basis. This sets the stage for the actual dynamic that occurs triggering past life reflections. I use reflections instead of the word memories since memory usually refers to the storage of mentally assessed experiences. Spontaneous past life reflections happen in the much more subtle and intangible field of intuition while sometimes coupled with a feeling. Because of the subtlety of the connection, our combined physical senses, which usually determine if an experience is real for us or not, are not involved in the recognition of past life experiences resulting in our wondering whether we are simply making up what we perceive or if it had actually occurred. Past life recognition usually occurs through only one sense at a time. This enables clarity. The key to working with these impressions is to prevent the mind’s involvement and its tendency to combine our physical senses, thereby, reading only our intuitive and feeling perceptions through one sense. Once the mind becomes involved in the process we tend toward “fleshing out” the impression with what we think the meaning or experience must be according to our standards for assessing physical reality.

Past life regression-1When working with a hypnotherapist and regression, keeping us free from embellishing what we recognize is one of their jobs. This way the image remains true to the original impression. Linear thinking is antithetical to intuition and feeling. Yet, the human mind will always struggle to put what we know and what we perceive into linear terms so it will be able to use it in the processing of our physical world. This now leaves us only with the possible avenues for triggering past life impressions and feelings.

The dynamic is simple. The link occurs between our current relaxed awareness, often in an alpha state, with the past experience. It can and usually comes by way of one sense like a touch, a word (vibration), a phrase, a scent, a sound, a tune or any other perceived stimulus that somehow resonates with circumstances encountered in the past life experience. This is often Deja Vuperceived as what many call déjà vu. But déjà vu usually arrives through a combined sensory trigger.  The past life reflection usually occurs only through one sense. The trigger works the same way a memory is triggered but with the mind out of the picture, deeper impressions are more able to come to the surface. For example, if one person is caressing another and a very relaxed state is induced for one or both, an impression may come to the surface of either one or both the caresser and person being caressed. The act of caressing reverberates or echoes the past life experience and a resonance between this life and the past is enabled through the caressing. In the same way that a combination of flavors may bring us back to memorable times in our childhood, that same combination of flavors may also enable the surfacing of a past life experience attached to those same flavors provided our mind is briefly “out of commission.”

Any singular sensory experience may be enough to trigger a past life impression but we must be in a state where the mind and our current world doesn’t intrude or overshadow the impression with earthly qualifications and mental rationalizations. Similarly, it is like being in a crowded room with everyone loudly talking making it virtually impossible to hear a whisper. But if everybody is whispering, it is much easier to perceive more subtle sounds.

ScrutinySo, in assessing soul mate potential, we must be careful in our discrimination so we don’t fool ourselves or talk ourselves into believing that any feeling of familiarity is an indication of a soul mate when perhaps it is simply a past life connection. As with anything else, clear and concise discrimination is the key to our inner awareness.

I want, I need I desire..They're such small words for such large and multi-leveled meanings. We all speak of what we want, need and desire, but so little attention is ever given to where the urges come from and how they originated in our perception in the first place. Why do we desire? Why do we want? Why do we need? I believe the answer is very simple but we get so mired down in the details of those feelings and what they’re attached to that we never see the larger picture. The larger picture is the key to our understanding but it will take a little perceptual shifting on our parts to fully comprehend the paradigm.

on the path-2Let’s begin first by saying that a desire is a direction finder for following our hearts and our inner paths. It is this directing engine that drives the experience that we’ve come here to have. To understand this in the proper context we have to put ourselves in the position of “where” we were in before we created and entered our current bodies. I believe at the very root of this understanding is that we were not put here by anyone for any reason foreign to us. However, there is a universal energy of which we are all a part of. Call it God, the Tao, the source, our essence, regardless whatever name you choose to represent the larger part of us that we are striving to become aware of our part in. Essentially, we are a small splinter of a much, much larger force.

In this state, which we might call spirit, soul or essence, we are aware that to become aware of the larger whole of what we’re part of we must have experiences that awaken qualities within us that will make us able to comprehend and understand our connection and belonging to that larger force. To that end we create an intention for which experiences we believe will expand our awareness and understanding to do so. This is partly what is meant when many of us say Bunker familyand believe that we choose the family to which we will be born into. The type of family and circumstances we enter will train us into a perspective that will create desires and needs within us that, if followed, will eventually lead us to personal choices that will produce the experiences that will enliven our pre-birth intentions. In a sense, we’re setting the stage for how we will perceive and approach the world to serve as an impetus toward the experience(s) we’ve chosen. Once we’ve been trained into family views and perceptions, our attention will find gaps in or qualities missing in our earthly self-assessments and life circumstances that we feel must be filled in order that we may feel “whole.” For example, if we’ve chosen to experience personal accomplishment and what the world calls success, we will be born to a family that lacks opportunity, prestige, resources, and recognition. Feeling this lack we will be impelled to overcome those limitations, and hopefully, establish an awareness of those qualities within ourselves. Older esoteric organizations describe this dynamic as being a thrust block akin to how a swimmer would use the resistance of the pool wall behind them to propel themselves forward through the water. More examples would be the psychologist who comes from a dysfunctional family seeks and gains inner balance or an abused person finds and builds the internal respect to become assertive, confident and self-respecting in their life choices of partners. It has been my experience to find people who have come from exceptionally difficult childhoods to eventually excel in those areas in their lives that had provided the most difficulty. Then, their worst deficits are turned into their best assets through seeking to overturn them. Yet, not every soul “accomplishes” the earthly experience they intended. Just around the cornerWhat we call “fate” sets the path but free will allows us to choose our earthly direction based on the forces we find here. Many of our choices are not aligned with what our heart intends for us. Yet, even in missing the intended goal we acquire experiences that lead to our greater awareness. Nothing is wasted. This is one of the factors included in the Law of Conservation. Hence, we pull back and reestablish our intention. This is one of the purposes for meditation and practices that return us to our center. If not done during our incarnation, we may reassess after returning to our source.

So, now let’s return to I want, I need, I desire. Where do these desires, needs and wants come from? They are activated by the circumstances we choose to insert ourselves into before birth. By our pre-birth choice, we choose and set the stage for our growth ourselves through the family we enter ingraining in our psyches differences in culture, religion, social standing, prosperity, physical attributes, mental and emotional capacity, etc. Our perceived lack in any or all of those areas serves as the engine that drives our urges and desires for our originally intended experience.

In this light we can see that if we faithfully follow our inner most urges and desires, we will enable and manifest the worldly experience we’ve have chosen to have before we were born. The process is simple as long as we are able to listen and follow what comes from our hearts. But the world neither understands nor approves of selfishly following our own desires and urges regardless of the reasoning behind it. The world sees being selfish and following our own Vatican Rulingurges as indicative of our exhibiting negative behavior, despicable self-centeredness and assumes lack of compassion for others. Our religions have done a stupendous job of making us choose to believe that we are responsible and accountable to the world rather than our own souls, spirits or essences even though it claims to have the truth about our existence. To serve ourselves before serving others is seen as a perversion of human values. Our materially driven world sees humanity as having to be accountable and responsible for the world existing outside of our hearts. Hence, we allow ourselves become dismally distracted into believing that others are the reason to which we’ve been put here by a deity outside of us while under its threat of excommunication, ostracization and rejection. In short, we’re blackmailed through being prohibited from receiving love and belonging unless we behave in ways that only serves the religion which proposed them. Perhaps this is what one of the perspectives that Jesus meant when he said to simply be in the world rather than of it.

When we say I want, I desire, I need... they're simply the tip of the inner iceberg indicating pied-piper-1where our attention should be. We must not only listen to and follow them but look beneath the surface of those desires to be assured that our choices are not the manufactured product of a worldly Pied Piper seducing our egos and tempting us away from the inner path we have truly intended for ourselves.

Guru-1The lure of someone who appears to have mastered what we’re struggling with seems to be an overwhelming attraction for us. Often, being unaware of the attraction but still feeling its pull adds to our urge to become something more than we are. To this end we find ourselves actively seeking people with those abilities to improve our abilities, our spirituality, our knowledge and our awareness. People who have or are the things we long for are also attracted to us simply through the dynamic of being different from what we are and what they are and seek. This difference creates a natural and irresistible draw for us toward each other. In this way we can know that our inner guidance system is working well and that our lack of what we think and believe we need or want is producing a magnetic pull toward someone whom we believe has what we need or want. This simply follows the Law of Attraction. Since the universe “abhors” a vacuum and is always “seeking” to fill the gap, this attraction enables us an opportunity to fulfill or neutralize what we seek.

Used car salesman-1This dynamic is all well in good in that it brings to us to what we need to grow, but it also has its pitfalls. Depending on our orientation toward how we believe the world works, it can make us extremely susceptible to being used by others. The question we have to ask ourselves is where do we draw our authority from? Who gives the final judgment on what we feel we are allowed to do or partake in; us or the external world? This difference in approach is explained by psychologists as our dominant locus of control.

To understand this, all we have to do is ask ourselves, “Does the world determine our fate or are we in control of our lives?” In other words, do we seek validation and permission to do and be what we want from the external world and what it values or do we have an internal authority that validates our own beliefs, experiences and choices rather than the world’s?

locus_of_controlAccording to the field of psychology, having an exterior locus of control says that the world determines what our life will be like. Our permissions and life direction comes from what is external to us. Having an interior locus of control says that we will determine how our life will go. Our permissions and life direction comes from an internal authority. At this point you might be asking your selves, “What does this have to do with our susceptibility to being used by others?” The answer is simple. The more externally directed we are, the more easily we can be led by those who are users and opportunists. This makes us eminently more manipulable by those who profess to have or be what we believe that we need. Conversely, if we are internally directed, we will be much less likely to be influenced or manipulated by others since our value system comes from within us. We also need to understand that we may be more externally directed in some issues and more internally directed in others. For example, if we’re involved in work or family ethics we may more defer toward what our family says is appropriate. However, if we’ve been trained in an area of science and have developed proficiencies, our family will have little say in what we believe is right or true because we’ve had our own extensive training independent of our family and now trust our own inner guidance. So we can easily say that some areas of our lives we will believe that others determine our fate and in other areas we do. This leaves us with the understanding that we are a mix of both internal and external authorities. So now we have to ask what is it that makes us more one than the other?

Because I said so-1So the next question we have to ask ourselves is has our childhood training allowed us to trust our own judgment and experience? Did our parents encourage us to make our own decisions or were we given a laundry list of rules, expectations and behaviors to live by based on what they thought were “right” and important? Did they tell us what we should be, want and feel or did they leave that determination to us? The more we were encouraged to make our own decisions, the less likely we are to be used by others. The less they encouraged our independence and the more they taught us to look to them for validation and permissions, the more susceptible we become to being used by others. Why? Because now, after we’ve grown up and left home, we will tend to seek an external substitute for our parents. They now become our new “authorities.”  Those surrogate parents can take the form of mates, mentors, bosses, gurus, shamans and masters. Herein lays the danger in blindly trusting gurus, shamans and masters.

Whats right-1If we’ve been raised to believe that our parents knew (and still know) what is best for us without our being allowed to develop any independence, we are far more likely to accept at face value what any external authority, gurus & shamans & masters included, tell us is true and right for us. This makes us eminently susceptible to the lies and misdirection by any shyster, user, opportunist, salesman, politician, news reporter, priest, pastor, rabbi, doctor, lawyer, advertiser, and many more people and positions established as board certified, accredited, approved of, sanctioned, and so much more.

So, what is the solution? There is nothing wrong with taking into account our world’s circumstances. However, to have a solid basis for our own truth and values, we must begin with what we feel. We must consider first our own experience. We must develop our own standards for what we believe to be true. For each of us, the only reality there is, is what we perceive. Essentially, all reality is subjective. If we don’t perceive it, it really doesn’t exist for us. The difficulty in knowing this and the challenge for our confidence is that when we do and accept this, we are taking responsibility for our own awareness and choices. For most people, it is easier and harbors less responsibility to let someone else to tell them what they should do and Choose for yourselfhow they should be. Is your fate determined by others or do you make up your own mind? The choice is always yours. It takes courage to be ourselves. Being so is a primary measure for our emotional maturity and spiritual growth. We all must choose.

Outer Limits-1With all the talking that goes on about thinking outside the envelope, there have been very subtle, if not important, changes happening to the envelop itself. If we understand the concept of the envelope, we recognize that it represents the usual limits or boundaries to which people think or perceive within. When we speak of someone thinking or working outside of the envelope, we assume that their thoughts and actions occur outside that of the average person’s awareness and comfort zone. They are out of the ordinary. They tap into a little know current of thought and awareness.

shoes-too-small-1But, what if those outer boundaries change? What happens if the field of what is considered normal shrinks into a smaller range of potential; a smaller range of what is acceptable as being usual or common to our mental and spacial capacities? Minimizing the field of choice may make it simpler or easier to see and understand what is considered normal but it also makes anything seen as unusual or creative to be perceived as being more remote, father away from possibility and more outrageous as compared to what we’re used to and comfortable with. The further away the choice, the less likely we are to be aware of it let alone choose it for our action.

With life becoming more organized, automated and programmed, we find ourselves becoming much more dependent, complacent, lazy and more prone to allow ourselves to be led by those who establish “new” technological limits. We are gradually being “farmed” into a headspace where we will readily expect less and be complacent enough to accept only what is offered by those doing the programming. If we know and expect less, we are much more manipulatable in areas that we are unaware of. Let’s examine this premise from another perspective.

strict-teacher-1Our educational system is becoming much more regulated and stringent in terms of what is “necessary” to fulfill our idea of being educated enough to successfully live and work in our rapidly changing world. Fifty years ago children in elementary school only had to contend with a few aptitude tests, IQ test and general testing for academic proficiency upon leaving elementary school. The general consensus of thinking by teachers then was that they were “crystallizing” a child’s innate abilities lying dormant in each by teaching them reading and math in order that they might have a common language with the rest of the world to share their individual creativity. Since then, things have radically changed. State testing of our children now occurs beginning in the second grade. This seems innocuous enough but when we more closely examine what is being tested, it becomes acutely obvious that technological skills and their testing far outstrips the humanities and all but eliminates truthful knowledge about our history and the history of the rest of the world. This, in itself, is alarming enough, but when we then consider that most teachers, having only a limited amount of time to teach and too many students to service effectively, resort to only teaching Robots-1children what is necessary to pass the test rather than developing their innate talents, all of our internal alarms must now ring off the wall telling us that children are now selectively being channeled and programmed into becoming specified cogs in a technological wheel depending on their tested ability to regurgitate facts and knowledge. It becomes distressfully apparent that individuality and creativity are no longer valued by the educational administration unless they promise to enhance or improve the existing proficiency of wanted and expected performance and its ease in being tested. Despite the rising percentage of children being home schooled and enrolled in private schools due to fears of unwanted potential violence, undesirable social influences and a desire for their increased physical safety, creativity and humanitarian education are still being kept alive even in its wake. Based on our current financial structure and the powerful influences presented by consumer and manufacturing lobbies, its continued evolution towards its technological end shows no signs of retreating. In this light, maintaining humanitarian values in our children is a task that rests solely and squarely on our shoulders; their parents.

portrait of stressed teacher and blackboard backgroundIt should not be assumed that blame for the outcome of our children’s lack of humanitarian awareness rests within the responsibility of our teachers. There own survival as teachers is included in the coercive dynamic. We can see this in the fact that teachers themselves are “graded” on their children’s ability to perform well on the state testing and their tenure or continued services in the educational community depends on how high their quotient of effective performers compares to other teachers. Those who accelerate the effectiveness of children performing well on state testing are the ones who are retained by the schools, especially, since funding for public schools comes almost exclusively from the state.

TV-lockupThe shrinking envelope can also be evidenced by what appears on television now and what was programmed fifty years ago. Current programming which is banal, inert and corporately owned is geared to effectively enable and monitor a public mindset which does not questions, counter or threaten the validity and effectiveness of our currently existing political administration. In the same vein we can also see a stark absence of programs that support our curiosity and our TV-cooking showattention toward examining our feelings and circumstances with an eye toward improving the depth and richness of our own personal lives. What have taken their place are reality shows, cooking shows, a larger variety of “cops and robbers”, survival shows, forensic shows, crime investigations, “Judge Judy” shows, “lockup” shows, and many other shows espousing the prudence of focusing on and aligning with popularly known systems of living and conformity. The media has effectively directed our attention away from what we feel within ourselves and is refocused on the TV naked & Afraidcircumstances surrounding others who we’re encouraged to believe have it worse than we do. If that’s not enough to discourage us from “listening” to our hearts and our conscience, the onslaught of extreme and offensive advertising insists that we buy products or services validated by an underlying implication that we are somehow less desirable and less efficient to others than we have an assumed responsibility to be and that we need their assistance to regain the appropriate power and dignity. What is so ironic is that it is we who are not being listened to or considered by others when it comes to our needs, our opinions and our individuality. Our culture, religion and family beliefs systems are responsible for making us capitulate and become susceptible to accepting less for ourselves by TV NCISmaking us believe that others’ welfare should come before our own and that we are somehow responsible for fixing their needs and comforts before even considering our won. Our value system has been totally turned upside down. Why do we talk about self-improvement when the end result is only to be coerced into believing that it is our responsibility to give those same self-improvements over as advantage to others coupled with the enabling of a guilt generated feeling of neglected obligation when we don’t? When we allow this to occur, our “envelope” of what we consider normal and acceptable shrinks even further.

WebAs a culture, this change has been perceived by very few since its progression has happened over a long period of time. Similar to the old analogy of the frog and hot water, if the frog is immediately thrown into hot water it will immediately feel the sudden change of temperature sparking their awareness spurring them on to struggle feverishly to escape. But if the temperature starts to change at body temperature and  rises slowly, it will take much longer for them to become aware that it has become unbearably hot. In the slower change, the frog will even notice the change much later than when it occurs in the moment. Most people are notorious for not noticing or sometimes ignoring changes that occur right under their noses. Others will be afraid to mention what they feel out of fear of offending others or believing that “this is the way it’s supposed to be.” Those of us with a longer memory, like our elders, may notice simple things like actors no longer having the refinement they had “in the old days” or “We never had to do that in school when we grew up.” And because these observations of change come most often from those who are retired or aging, they’re observations are chalked up as their being “stuck in the old days” or “going senile and living in the past.”

Rose-Colored-GlassesAs technology and the media have evolved to growing and changing faster, and as we as consumers have had to chase “progress" simply in order to survive, the process has become an all encompassing  distraction from looking at our human values and considerations from the perspective of what our hearts need simply to feel peaceful and relaxed. But now with the Shrinking Envelope, and as we slowly lean back into that well deserved peace and tranquility, we can’t help noticing that our world has lost a bit of its color, its individuality and the things that spark our curiosity and interest in feeling the awe in recognizing how we and nature are and have been so superbly intertwined.

 

missing-the-trainWhat we hear, see, feel and intuit from our experience is not perceived in the same way for each of us. For some of us tangible experiences provide the most clarity. For others, what is heard is more important. We all perceive in what we might call different modes. There are four of them. Each of them has a “format” of qualities that allow us to relate to others more effectively either through our senses, feelings, thoughts or intuition. When we relate to another person in the same mode the connection between us is dynamic and catalyzing in terms of how we perceive and understand. When it’s not and as the other person is speaking, we’re left with guessing as to their meaning as if we’ve been left standing on the platform while the train just whizzes by. For many people recognition of this aspect in our interactions is most often well below our threshold of awareness. Yet, all we can say is that we somehow “connect” with them more easily and deeply than anyone else. For others where we don’t “connect” we find ourselves saying that we simply had no idea what they were trying to say.

radio-stationWorking with modes is like tuning into a radio station. There are sometimes when we’re locked on to the frequency and other times it seems that we’ve just drifted into static. It could be said that each mode is a type of “headspace” unto itself requiring us to tune into the other person’s wavelength if we are to effectively understand or “grok” them. (grok is a term used in the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein meaning to fully comprehend meaning on all levels and in all modes).

ListeningModes are important in that for some relationships the rapport is extremely strained and trying. For others it is fluid and easy. It’s easy to understand how the majority of our rapport in relationships is largely dependent on the degree to which each of us are able to allow ourselves to listen to each other separately from our own agendas and issues. But in recognizing our own expressions and those of our partners as coming through different modes, a higher or subtler form of listening is necessary. Its requirement is that personal agendas most be either worked through or set aside in order to navigate perceptively in differing modal interchanges. In the same way that being in a noisy room will drown out the words of a whispering companion, having an agenda will overpower our awareness through distraction to the point where we become unable to perceive gentler undercurrents. Lack of this capacity often can make or break our ability to communicate deeply and effectively beyond the simple words of what is being expressed. We might say that this is one of the methods of being able to “read between the lines” but is dimensionally different in that the process involves harmonizing with the perceptual undercurrent of our partner.

The modes I speak of were first publicized through the work of Carl Gustav Jung. For the sake of clarity and brevity I will paraphrase and simplify much of what I’ve learned. Not to do so would tie our brains in knots, especially, if we’re unfamiliar with his perspectives and work.

Jungian TypesOf the four modes through which we express and perceive, senses, feeling, thought and intuition, each has its own particular “flavor” of expressing and perceiving. So we’ll be on the same page when I say expression, I’m referring how we project energy and information. When I say perceive, I will simply mean how we receive, transmute and customize that energy and information so it resonates with what we have already learned, experienced and currently understand. Another way of saying this is our perception and projections are a function of the filters operating in our personal interchanges, namely, through our modes. As an example, we’ve been told that rose colored glasses can totally change how we perceive someone or something. We can comprehend more fully what I say simply by observing how we feel when we look through sunglasses of differing colors. We actually “feel” what we’re looking at differently. Let’s look at the modes and how they filter what we perceive and project.

Sense Receptive or Expressed - When our physical senses are the primary baseline through which we receive and assess our world, we tend to perceive and think of our experiences and circumstances in terms of what we believe to be tangible and, therefore, practical. We tend to be in the moment along with the feeling mode. One might say that, “If I can see it, feel it, taste it and touch it or smell it, it’s real enough for me.” We find our truth in the world through our senses. We are the scientists of the world, the statisticians, the engineers and any of those of us who require “proof” in the form of physical and tangible evidence to gain our belief and support in who we are and what we do. Since we operate based on sense verification, we tend to wait for the world to provide that to us before we will even consider investing ourselves. As a result of this we tend to be more cautious and premeditative than other modes in all that we do and say.

Feeling Receptive or Expressed - When our feelings are the receptive or driving force we might not even “go there” if what we feel doesn’t somehow mesh with what we feel or what might be assumed to be an uncomfortable or displeasing force. Feeling is an intangible, elusive, fluid and empathic and an involuntary movement within us. We are the artists, musicians, performers, activists, social workers, humanitarians and any career that takes our life direction and callings from an internal feeling. Thought may be involved if only to clarify but is often bypassed due to the intensity of the feeling or occurs after the wave has passed.

Like in the sensing mode, we perceive in the moment but often “percolate” our feelings until they surface in our awareness in a way that “feels right” for our comprehension or “grokking.” The dominating catalyst in our assessing rests in our recognition and alignment of and with the movement or current of what we’re feeling. Comparing with elicited memories gives us a language to use in order to convey to others what we feel in terms of prior events and circumstances. Our perceiving and recognizing a change of flow is our primary consideration in our process for discrimination and the memories simply provide reference points to convey a comprehended meaning. When we assess, the process becomes all absorbing to the exclusion of all else. Those of us who use other modes can gain a vague understanding of a feeling person’s process through descriptive words such as penetrating, instinctual, psychically sensitive, suspicious, permeable, textured and enveloping.

Thought Receptive or Expressed - When our thinking is the primary mover, all that is perceived is, first, converted to language, and then applied to a search for worldly intellectual and recognizable patterns with which we can align, validate and then direct our individual experiences and actions. We are the philosophers, writers, educators (systemic), theorists, mathematicians and intellectuals of the world. We are emotionally detached and feelings are considered irrational and are, essentially, ignored. Our primary operative space rests in abstraction gained through a process of distillation. Our actions are almost never a function of being in the moment and every action taken or anticipated is structured and planned before ever being acted on. Any choice becomes an arduous process involving weighing, measuring and assessing experience for its potential to align with the most advantageously known format or structure. Words that best describe us are: abstract, rational, mental, pre-emptive, theoretical, comparative, separative, conceptual, timed, planned, strategized and logical.

Intuition Receptive or Expressed - When intuition is the primary mover, we live more in the moment than any other mode. Thought is rarely part of the process. We may or may not actually hear you speaking. As you do we receive flashes of you or someone like you in complete scenarios much like multidimensional photographs but straddling the barriers between past, present and future. We receive everything as a complete multidimensional “picture” and then plunge into fleshing out what we’ve seen. Like a dream, linear explanations are often useless as they lose the depth of the experience as we attempt to squeeze our multidimensional flash into a linear timeline. When we act, we go from receiving the intuitive flash directly into activity attempting to create or manifest the complete “picture” of what we’ve seen in the flash. We are the composers, architects, psychoanalysts, inventors, quantum physicists, chefs and designers. Words that describe us are experiential, impulsive, active, immersive, self-trusting, conceptually inclusive, comprehensive and aligning rather than directive.

What dreams may come-2Essentially, sense and thought based rapports are tangible formats and feeling and intuitive are intangible. This accounts for which of them are in the moment and which are time based; which are timeless and which are time constrained. When we mix formats, not only are the modes out of sync but the time formats they filter through are also. For example, we’ve all heard the comic routines about the logical husband and the emotionally based wife. One is tangibly based, the other is intangibly based. Is it really any wonder why it is so difficult for them to understand each other? Rational and irrational are exchanged in comments to and about each other as if one or the other is inferior. But the truth is, both are viable but through different kinds of reception and projection. This causes massive problems in what is understood and what is assumed about each other’s intentions and perceptions. What one expects of the other, the other has no clue as to what is meant and vice versa.

BootiesUnfortunately, our culture has had a predilection toward assuming that the modal difference is present due to gender determination. Over the years, this expectation has been changing and the lines between have been blurring our ability to know what to expect from either sex, especially, with the growing influence of unisex “standards.” This change has been forcing us to look deeper than at our gender and surface appearances, slowly evolving us toward becoming a lot more sensitive to the subtleties of our differences and similarities. Of course there are still older “holdouts” left whose personal security lies based in their traditional assumptions about the sexes perpetuating the colloquial “battle of the sexes.” But as the older generations die off, the younger generations, who have not been as strongly indoctrinated in the older assumptions, will move quickly past the old prejudices and insecurities and focus more on the subtler similarities and differences in individual communicative rapports.

My-Way or highwayThe way to accelerate and facilitate our own ability to sensitize ourselves to and recognize these subtle similarities and differences is to first, uncover and work at moving past the agendas generated by our own personal insecurities. This will remove the loud voices in the room so we can hear the whispers. And then second, listen for the type of syntax used to describe how others experience us and their world. Sense and thought based personalities will describe their world in terms of reality, proof and what they can physically sense or conceptualize. Feeling and intuition based personalities will describe their worlds in terms that will seem fluid, irrational and intangible. Our key to perceiving the difference is hearing words such as, “I hear or understand what you’re saying” or “I feel the difference.” Listen carefully. The words chosen to describe their experience will tell you everything you need to know about your relationship rapport and how to tune into the individual modes of others. Good luck! It’s an interesting and challenging exercise in paying attention.

Ironman-1All of us at one time or another has lived vicariously through a hero or heroine on the television or in a captivating book. We’ve felt the power and the gratitude of saving someone in trouble and the adoration and recognition of whole societies for our heartfelt service to them.  Mythology is full of examples of people that we’d like to be like and emulate and people whose places we’d like to be in. There is nothing wrong with feeling this as our emotional participation in that it teaches us things about the experiences that we need to integrate and incorporate into our psyches and self-concept. But then, we're told, "don't plant your feet in someone else's soil." Make your own choices. Conduct your own life. Yet, when we live in the wake of someone else’s boat, we never have to put ourselves at risk for being shown that we feel inadequate in some way as a function of our feared failures. What are we to do?

In someone else's shadowIn the same way that we seek the shade of a tree to protect us from the intensity of the sun, many of us seek people with the skills and capabilities to protect us from others who might take advantage of us or harm us in a way that we believe we should have developed the skills and defenses to handle but have somehow fallen short due to some perceived inadequacy. Our propensity for seeking that sort of person usually comes from experiences that we’ve had that have overwhelmed us in our ability to stand up for our core values and personal integrity. These experiences can come from childhood beatings, sexual abuse, emotional blackmail or any other form of unwanted coercion coming from others, including parents, who have learned, even if unconsciously, that it is easier to find someone else to do their dirty work and take the fall for their own perceived inadequacies and improprieties. These accounts for what many psychologists have called being the scapegoat in a family or close group. Even with people who are accomplished and have personal integrity beyond reproach have been the objects of our sought protection. I believe that this type of seeking behavior on our part is simply an extension of our seeking protection from others as we would from our parents as small children. Until we learn to “defend ourselves” against abuse, erect personal boundaries without feelings of guilt or fear of penetration and have develop skills to make our own way in the world can we pull away from needing to live in and as someone else’s shadow. I use shadow in both the terms of what the tree provides and in terms of that unwanted part and qualities of ourselves that we struggle to repress or project on others so it won’t interfere with the preferred image we wish present to the world. We can do this consciously, like a parent for a child, or unconsciously, as in dependency oriented relationships. This type of role playing, if I can call it that, is one of us being the “protected” one and one of us being the “protector” has devastating consequences on our Self-Trust and confidence. The Parent-Child interplay explained by the theory of Transactional Analysis by Thomas Harris in "I'm Ok, You're OK" holds a key toward understanding the dynamic in play and what needs to be done in order to re-balance the relationship and restore adult status to both individuals. Let’s first look at the dynamic occurring in the “child,” the “protected” one, who is living in the shadow of another. Remember, this is one of two adults fulfilling a role to retain a real or imagined emotional security.

To begin with, remember walking into someone’s house and just feeling comfortable like putting on a pairs of slippers and a robe? Now imagine meeting a person with whom we feel the same way. This is probably the feeling that some of us describe as “finding our other half.” Being in someone else’s space can have dramatic effects on our ability to relax, be creative and feel “at home.” It’s not that they “make” us feel that way. It’s that we resonate with their space and the energy that they emit. There is a spectrum which we all fall into that will tell us if we’re seeking this out on the end which provides protection or on the end that provides an almost literal augmentation of our creativity and excitement in perceiving our effectiveness in the world. The kind of person we seek has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves and our participation in the world around us. If we feel that we are somehow lacking, inadequate or Parents are godsunable to make our way in the world, we will tend to seek someone who will provide a buffer, as our parents most likely did for us as a child, between us and what we perceive as the frightening aspects of dealing with an outside world that we feel no confidence in. In doing this we either remain or become the “child” as in Transactional Analysis. Choosing this role enables us to rely on another’s experience, guidance and accountability. Of course, there are many more dimensions available to us in choosing the role of “child” but for the child protection would be their main focus. I think the advantage of choosing a relationship with someone who could provide these things for us is obvious but for many our selection (choice) is unconscious. Because it is primarily an unconscious choice by those of us seeking protection, when our choice poses subsequent limitations on our freedom and confidence, we never realize that it is our same choice that has caused the construction of our own limitations that has made us dependent on the behavior of those we have selected. But it is only the disadvantages of that choice that we see and never realize the dynamics operating behind it while projecting the causes of our displeasure on our chosen partner. So a potential scenario might go like this. You are an older couple. One of you is afraid to drive so you sell your second car and let your spouse become the primary transporter. Now, as your life loses opportunities for enjoyment outside the house because your spouse may have the car, you now claim that your spouse is hampering your ability to enjoy life and get around. Now the protection you’ve selected seems like an isolation and manipulation. A compounding of that effect would be if we were the driver of the car and like having our spouse under our watchful eye by their being easily within our control. But when the obligation for us to transport them becomes more dominant than we prefer, we claim that our spouse, who doesn’t drive, is always there and cramping our style and taking up our time.

protect me-2The opportunity for our tendency to create co-dependence for personal advantage is always present. If we are self-accountable and take responsibility for our own circumstances, it almost never occurs. But if we aren’t or don’t, we almost always fall into the trap. When this occurs, we see the advantage of “putting our feet in someone else’s soil” but almost never see the disadvantages of the practice until it’s time to “pay” for the advantage that we’ve “bargained” for and then we see it as a limitation or interference. The other part of the codependency dance is played by we the “protector” or “parent” in Transactional Analysis seeking advantage and comfort for ourselves also through manipulation of those we’ve “pledged” to protect. Hence, we do it by putting other people into our service. In doing this we believe that we are eliciting an obligation from the “protectee” on the pretense that we are being noble by providing protection and advantage to those whom we are manipulating. We may also do this unconsciously and then, almost always, flatly deny being manipulative when accused.

In contrast to seeking advantages and encountering “hidden” consequences, this type of connection can be done with both parties consciously consenting to aid our partner with full knowledge and acceptance of not only the advantages gained but of any consequences that might follow. Rarely does the openly agreed sharing elicit difficulties unless it is done with an open agreement on the surface but with an additional hidden agenda underneath with one or both parties being unaware of it.

Puppet-4There is nothing wrong with “planting your feet in someone else’s soil” as long as we do it with accountability involving awareness and an understanding and acceptance of what we offer or even imply, consciously or not, in return. Much of the difficulty we have in assessing what kind of “agreement” we are dealing with has everything to do with what parts of the encounter we are consciously aware of and which parts we are not. And often times, what we are “not aware of” is often rationalized away by utilizing a double meaning where the acknowledged meaning works in our favor and augments our public image and the one that does not is either denied or stripped of applicability through its selective validation. We can see and understand this easily with any action where we can have both a noble and selfish motivation.

At the root of any of these difficulties is always our perception of our accountability. If we are unable to accept accountability for something that is deemed inappropriate, ungracious or selfish, we usually seek the double meaning route to disguise our internally acknowledged motivation through cloaking our shadow (parts of ourselves that we feel are undesirable and then project on others) with socially and self-deceptive reasoning. It only begins to compound as a real problem when we actually start believing our own deceptively contrived scenarios.

Self-Deception-3The need for perpetuating social and self-deception is a direct result of never having developed an adequate sense of Self-Trust. When we’ve been trained not to trust ourselves or our own experience, which our contemporary western culture has most certainly been evolving us toward through exaggerating the importance of science and the physical world over feelings and intuition, we come to see ourselves as being inadequate in the eyes of the world and fear that that same inadequacy will be exposed if we don’t somehow hide it through shifting our accountability toward someone else. In other words, when Self-Trust is lacking, the minimum amount of courage required for becoming voluntarily accountable is never reached. So we resort to subterfuge, conscious or not, to cover ourselves.

Plausible DenialThe art of constructing plausible denial has, undoubtedly, become a serious problem. It has augmented personal acquisition and opportunism through interpersonal and socially and self-deceptive “planning” infecting every part of our culture involving morals, values and etiquette. It is the survival part of our animal nature that has seeped through and undermined our attempts to create distance between our actively denied animal nature and our projected pretense of evolutionary and spiritual superiority. Co-dependence eminently fits the requirement for disguising our self-deception while permitting the allowance of answering our primordial urges without our professed accountability. If we’re going to “plant our feet in someone else’s soil,’ we had best have a clear sense and understanding of what we are doing with a predominant propensity toward being accountable. This means developing a strong sense of Self-Trust. Only then will our emotional psyches be “mature” enough to be able to maintain an honest and mutually beneficial relationship with our chosen partners without any “surprises.”

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Emerald Forest-1We’ve all seen movies with youths from Borneo, Africa, South America or other places we might regard as uncivilized go through horrendous feats of physical endurance just to be accepted as adults in their tribes. Our first comment or impression is almost always, “How barbaric?” especially, since we wouldn’t think of doing such a thing in our own “subdued” culture.  But when we actually think about it, is it really that barbaric? Is it really a travesty to put youths through such a tortuous ordeal just to belong? At first glance we might think so, but the ritual serves as a very important landmark in the youth’s psyche. So then, what is the significance of Adolescents & Rites of passage?

BreakthroughAsk yourself about the difficult physical challenges you’ve been through, anything from birth to a near death experience and ask yourself, did it make an impression on you? Did it bring that period in your life to the forefront of your perception? Was it life changing? Did it mark a new beginning or ending? Odds are, you’ve answered yes. During that time, we all tend to make decisions about ourselves and how we view our lives leading up to making important changes in our life perspective. When we pair a physically challenging situation with an intangible belief or concept, it tends to have a dramatic effect on our life and how we consequently perceive it.

Relative to the uncivilized cultures I’ve cited, and I’m sure that there are many others, those who are part of those cultures have no doubt as to their position and responsibilities within that culture and to their families, neighbors and themselves. Now ask yourself, what experiences do our “advanced civilization” western adolescents have to compare to that could possibly make an equally indelible impression on how they view themselves or to know what their position is in being part of our culture? I presently perceive none of any consequence barring a few exceptions that are, perhaps, vestigial rites which have long lost their teeth due to our over-civilizing influences and gentile preferences for how we now view ourselves as a culture.

First killIn losing our connection to nature we have lost something vital that links us to the natural flow of life tantamount to our residing in these bodies. Even animals in the wild have a first kill as their ascension into becoming an adult and fending for themselves. How can we compare?We are born into these bodies yet, excluding the simple pursuit of personal pleasures, they no longer have significance in how we conduct our lives except in terms of our supporting them to be able to carry us around to every new intangible cultural expectation that we have organized for ourselves to convince ourselves that we are superior to our animal natures; the kingdom to which we still most tangibly belong. And even in that we do a tremendously poor job poisoning ourselves with synthetic foods and pesticides, let alone, never giving ourselves time and space to renew our connections to our true nature. What do our youths have to emulate in us that shows them how to become adults? What, now, does adulthood even mean to them? With our having no holistic view of ourselves, what is it that we expect them to become? We are a lost civilization teaching our young to remain lost with us. How did this happen?

animal masteryThe first factor to contribute to this path was to come to believe that we are superior to the animal kingdom. This exhibits a primarily egotistical need to elevate ourselves above all else. Why? Because we’ve been trained to behave that way.By whom? Predominantly, by western religion.Even the bible tells us that we are to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” So for us, according to the bible, the mark of having value in life is our ability to dominate our environment and those within it. This has also encouraged us to accept and believe that humility, especially in nature and the stewardship of it, are marks of what it is to be inferior.This translates into denying our animal nature as a psychological compensation for our obvious inadequacy within it with a wholehearted encouragement from religion to accept it as being so. Yet, in Sermon on the Mount and other biblical passages, it tells us that humility is a mark of being pure of heart and acceptable to the deity responsible for “writing” the bible. Already, we see a stark contradiction in expected behavior and beliefs.

TREASURE ChestThe second factor is our physical survival coming more to the fore enabling our continued evolution toward becoming more materialistic. This is a function of and comes on the heels of an ever widening gap between the “haves and the have nots” in our culture; the top .1% if you will. You would think that with the advent of our western world and its cultures becoming more physically oriented that the environment would provide more fertile ground to renew the practice of Rite of Passage. But being still so firmly entrenched in our separation from nature as a compensating factor contributing to our perceived personal value and the our total distraction with physical pleasure, our attempted release and distraction from pain and stress and our culture’s promise that following its requirements will free us, its potential, let alone its re-implementation, has eluded us. Even if it were reinstated, it would still be viewed as barbaric. Yet, the media produces super heroes who go through that very process as we vicariously live through them wishing it could part of our lives too in movies such as Hunger games, Star Wars, Dune and the Emerald Forest. Classic and modern mythology is full of example showing personal trials and tribulations contributing to the life changing evolution of value and beliefs. As a result of assigning our own personal authority, trust and accountability to others we have lost, or more appropriately been encouraged to give up, controlling our own fates and destinies. Rites of Passage would have put that power squarely back into our own hands. However, our culture has taught us, through the promise and bribery of support and the comfort and security of group inclusion gained through our acquiescence, to give that up.

Bar_MitzvahThe few remnants of Rite of Passage that exist come in the form of impotent vestigial processes such as Bar mitzvahs, Bas mitzvahs, military service (which is no longer conscripted), Christian Confirmation and probably many more which go unrecognized as having once been effective. The few of us who still seek out the process instinctively recognize the need to find or create an experience which will mark our passage into adulthood doing things that are physically challenging and death defying like survival games and sky diving, desperately searching for a trigger that will confirm our passage into what we perceive as the adult world.

The third factor is the “advent” of adolescence. Adolescence is quoted as being a transitional period between childhood and adulthood or, more precisely, from puberty to acculturation. It is a social position that, in my opinion, has evolved in the wake of our attempts at civilizing cultures or groups of people. Etymonline.com defines civilize as “to bring out of barbarism.”

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Barbarism is defined as “rudeness, foreign, strange or ignorant.” The use of the word civilizing became “mainstream”around 1868 enabling the submersion of barbarism through the implementation of using social rules for an enforcement of courtesy. The concept of ignorance obviously pertained to those members of the culture, mostly adolescents, who had not yet acquired the tact and finesse necessary to maneuver within and respect the social expectations designed to prevent the exposure of those who were civilized from the rawness of their own innate animal nature. At the onset of puberty in the civilized world it was assumed that these skills had yet to be developed. In other words, civilization was, essentially, awaiting the youth’s being trained into not socially acknowledging the animalistic urges that arose with the onset of puberty except within the strictest guidelines guaranteeing their denial and enabling the society’s compensated superiority to reign over the animal kingdom. I believe a compounding of that practice came on its heels as a desire of those in power to harness the power of youth in a way that would be socially controlled and dominated thereby insuring an extended security for their position of social dominance.

Native americans-2In what we call uncivilized or more primitive cultures, youths who enter puberty are given the opportunity to learn social responsibility and to become part of the tribe’s power structure through Rites of Passage. A primary example of this can be seen in the Native American tribes of the US. Although the youths were not old enough to have the experience necessary to advise and guide the rest of the tribe they were not only taken into apprenticeship learning expected social participation from seasoned members, but they were permitted to act and perceive themselves as adult members of the tribe. This permission and perception was marked by their passing through Rites of Passage. Currently, their relegation to the position of a modern adolescent by civilized society has not only taken away a youth’s potential for perceiving themselves as having become an adult but has also disarmed their capacity for self-determination and for developing Self-Trust by extending their position in perceived uselessness until they “came of age.” Essentially, they are now perceived by our culture as a liability to the rest of the civilized tribe.

Gang-1I find it curious that our contemporary anthropologists and sociologists find it so puzzling as to why the adolescents of our culture appear to be so angry and rebellious. They attribute it almost exclusively to the chaos created by hormones while never fully realizing or analyzing the social implications of the non-person status that the civilized world now holds them to. We only have to imagine ourselves in a position of feeling ineffective and lacking permission for self-determination to comprehend the underlying causes for teenage our perception confusion. This is something that the women’s movement has been battling with for decades. In this light, and as one of the worst examples in our culture, many women are glibly and chauvinistically referred to as  “trophy wives” by egotistically insecure males. Women’s social position in the Middle-Eastern-WomenMiddle East is, essentially, seen as the same as that of adolescents here…ineffectual and essentially regarded as a possession but sadly in those cultures, even a male adolescent has more power and independence than any adult woman.

So where do we go from here? I think that I can safely say that the issue is not so much about restoring Rites of Passage as it is our actual perception of becoming or acknowledging ourselves, and adolescents, as effective and accountable adults. How can we put self-determination and the ability to develop Self-Trust back under the domain of not only adolescents, but back into the hands of adults who have been taught and now believe that their lives are inconsequential except as a vehicle for the benefit of the wealthy and the powerful (whom they have now unwittingly come to view as their parental surrogates)? I have no solution other than to say that we must become more aware of how our actions, based on our own insecurities and our own resulting compulsion to manipulate and control in order to compensate, interfere with the well-being and potential for others, adults included, to grow into a place where it is even feasible for them to develop Self-Trust through being allowed to perceive their lives from the perspective of their own heart’s direction, let alone to receive the opportunities to pursue the emerging of that perception through their own personal bored studentsexperiencing. We can only learn so much from a book and, as it is becoming much more obvious in schools, most poignantly as children grow into adolescents, that words still don’t teach. The old adage actions speak louder than words is even more alive and verifiable than ever. If we treat our adolescents from the place of our own insecurity, preventing them from assuming the positions in life that we fear losing due to our own perceived and trained sense of inadequacy and ineffectiveness, they will most certainly grow up to repeat our pattern through emulating what they’ve seen in us. Children learn by example. In fact, everyone does. We must first, ourselves, come to a place of Self-Trust before we can even hope to understand how to raise self-directing adults who feel effective, useful, needed and accepted as part of our culture. Then their mayhem will cease and our confusion about their social position will diminish. But until that time they will remain as an enigma to us and viewed as a liability by most of society.

shot down-3Have you been asked, "Who said you could do that?" Ask yourself how many times this has happened to you. You’ve just decided that you’re going to take some kind of action. It probably won’t fall within agreement with some of the other people involved. You announce what you’re going to do and someone asks you why you’re going to do it. You convey your reason and the other person proceeds to shred your reasoning convincing you that it’s not a valid premise for your choice. Not only do you begin to doubt yourself but now you feel obligated to concede to your interrogator’s preferences and refrain from acting on your own decision.

With our western culture having grown into being so technical, scientific and materialistic we have slowly fallen into the need of having a reason or justification for everything that we do. We find ourselves making excuses and apologizing for acting in our own interest while others accuse us of stepping on their toes or not doing things in a “reasonable” way; reasonable translating to their benefit. Why have we allowed ourselves to become so self-effacing and deferent? We now consider it politically correct to defer to others before we service ourselves. Board Certified-1And even there, we must now be board certified, licensed, validated, approved, screwed, glued and tattooed.  Why is it now so important to gain approval from others? Where did this mandatory deference come from? The answer is, you guessed it, our childhood programming. Think I’m wrong? Remember all the way back to grammar school where we heard, “If you didn’t bring enough to share with everyone else in the class, you’re not allowed to have any yourself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since our culture is devoid of any tangible Rights of Passage, we remain stuck in our childhood personas still needing permission from our parents (transferred to those we give over our authority to in adulthood) to do anything. We have not “put away childish things.” They linger like an infectious undercurrent sabotaging any heartfelt urgings that contradict the needs of our families and surrounding peer groups.

valid-2This kind of head space we find ourselves in, that is in conceding to external “validation”, comes back at us through many different expressions, all challenging the personal authority and Self-Trust of our own adequacy that we’ve earned through our own personal experience giving us license to decide things for ourselves. The following expressions are just a few of the things we hear thrown at us creating a self-staining tailspin while bringing us under the judgment of those who feel just as little personal authority and Self-Trust as we are allowed to. Literally, we are the blind led by the blind.

  1. “What’s your reasoning behind your decision?” – Aside from plain curiosity, this usually is indicative of someone wanting to have some say over what we do. This could either come from their need to confirm their own beliefs or to maneuver us and our decision into a perspective that’s beneficial mostly to them.
  2. “What’s the meaning of this?” – This statement is a bit more aggressive and attempts to assert a measure of authority over us. Its most commonly heard in career and work environments which are more forgiving to an attempted dominance assertion due to it being a work environment and under the leadership and authority we accept as being appropriate there.
  3. “What were you thinking?” – Asserts the same type of authority as number two but from a more personal and familiar perspective. We most often hear this coming from family members who are either honestly concerned about our choices or who are attempting to undermine or coerce us over to their way of thinking in order to put themselves in a superior family position. In this position they are more able to expect obedience of other family members…including us. This could also be applied to siblings attempting to usurp parental influence.
  4. “How could you…(do that to me)?” – This statement is even more familiar and aggressive than number two or three. It usually involves a more intimate connection with us thereby implying some sort of agreement or obligation that we are assumed to have betrayed. The accuser can then expect us to become subservient or penitent after our acceptance of responsibility for our “transgression.”
  5. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” – This statement aligns with “How could you” but from a more general perspective. It not only implies an obligation that must be atoned for but also partially removes our accuser’s accountability for its application. If they are confronted, they simply reply citing generally accepted values and moral set in place by other than our accusers that they believe that we will also adhere to.
  6. “Who said you could?” – This statement is also very aggressive and aligns our accuser with the prevailing authority. If we accept their alignment, it is assumed by them that we will concede to their desires, expectations and opinions. This is, again, another “power play.”
  7. “How could you be so stupid?” or “What were you thinking?” – This is also very aggressive but most often comes from either a parent or someone we have allowed to have authority over us (or someone we have selected as a parental surrogate after leaving our family). Remember, it’s human nature to seek to replace our family and environments with something or someone we’re used to or accustomed to. Even if they are hurtful to us in the long run, we most often seek the familiar; feeling we will know how to handle it.

judges-2All of these statements, and I’m sure there are many more variations, imply our submitting to a level of acceptance judged by others coupled with an abdication of our innate right to think, feel and act pursuant to our own heart and desires. Accepting their premise submits to an almost completely tacit agreement that we owe a “validatable” explanation or excuse to someone else for doing things that benefit us but might run contrary to their preferences, or in other words, receive their permission.

We have fallen into a trap of pursuing personal excellence based on the values and preferences of others. We have an urgent need to begin listening to our own heart and to give ourselves permission to make our own decisions based on our own personal experience. Yet, our childhood habit of waiting or seeking external approval trumps all the efforts we can put into personal motivations that benefit only ourselves. By accepting external dominance we have, essentially, given away our power. But that is only the obvious tip of the iceberg. There is a reason that goes much deeper than that. When we allow external values to dictate what we will Blaming-1permit ourselves to do, we unconsciously abdicate our accountability for the decisions that we make. This exonerates us from any blame. Our deepest contemporary fear is being found at fault and having our personally believed inadequacy become exposed for the entire world to see. Our deepest need is to cast aside blame and avoid deeper scrutiny thereby avoiding exposure. This is why our fascination with super heroes is such a dominant theme in our envy of them.

External authority and blame are paradoxical bed partners. They feed off each other for their survival. Without one, the other dies. If we don’t accept external authority, blame has no place or meaning in our lives. If we don’t accept blame, external authority has no power over us. The best way to obliterate both is to accept and become our own authority through becoming self-accountable for our own lives and decisions according to our own hearts. We’re no longer shown or taught how to do that at home or in school. We are in desperate need of a revitalization of the inner wisdom which we all have. Our current western cultural perspective about accountability is that it has become all about placing blame. We can never achieve peace of any kind until this dynamic is disarmed and discarded.