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.

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.

…and why did we choose to have them?

Kid spiritsLet me start off by saying that they are not ours. We have only created a space for them to visit. They were attracted to us because the environment we can and most likely will provide offers them the building blocks that will prepare and enable them to have the experience that they have chosen to come here for.

There are two things happening here. First, and for the most obvious reason, is that we have chosen to respond to our most basic and animalistic the urge toward having sex. We’re human and excitement, sensuality and natural urges come with the territory. However, the second motivation, and for the most varied of reasons, is that we’ve chosen to believe that bringing a child into the world would somehow answer or complete the picture of how our world should be and what and who it should consist of. This can be done consciously or unconsciously. Many of us might not recognize the driving forces within us that would choose or allow this to occur. But in this light, and conscious or not, the belief systems we and our partners hold are the key to the formation of the world that will give our child the impetus and encouragement toward living their chosen experience, whether Dinner guestsconceived in the most loving of encounters or through the most brutal rape. We are like hosts inviting someone to dinner. On some level our guests know what we are capable of providing for them and subjecting them to. But it is still their choice to accept with no guarantees…only potential to fulfill their intentions as having the child is for ours. You might even view it like a landlord-tenant agreement with the potential to be honored or broken. In this light we can see that nothing is fated. Nothing is meant to be. In this world all is chosen or rejected, accepted or refused. We buy our ticket and take our chances. We believe that some tickets offer better odds than others, however, we humans have the capacity to rationalize anything. But still, as I said, our chosen beliefs hold the key.

For those of us who, at the least, have arrived at the precipice of acknowledging and recognizing the perspective that we are much more than what we can see, feel, hear taste or touch, this perspective will hold little surprise or threat to our perceived self-value. However, for those of us who have not moved past that perceptual barrier, my perspective may seem fantastic and arbitrary.

When I say a threat to self-value, this may seem puzzling at first but I think after you read some of the reasons claimed for having a child you’ll understand how this could seem so.

Family-ChimpsThe first reason is the most simple and, perhaps, what most people claim is the reason for bringing a child into this world. For two people who are truly in love and are able to share themselves with each other and the world, it’s natural to want to have a family in which to share that love directly. This can usually only occur if both parents are mature enough to be accountable to themselves and to each other. When I say accountable, I don’t mean so much as being obligated toward answering another’s needs as much as being comfortable in our own skin in accepting and dealing with the choices we make without needing to cast blame on others for any unwanted circumstances. However, I believe this circumstantial perspective is in the minority among those parents currently bringing children into the western world today. For most there is an equating of love with possessiveness and security needs in supporting our self-image through the arrival and behaviors of our children. In other words, our children are a reflection of how we view ourselves and if they don’t live up to our ideal we somehow feel betrayed resulting in our seeing ourselves as less than who we believe we must be. Even simpler still, we believe our self-image is dependent on our ability to mold them into our ideal of what we wish we could be. This belief creates all sorts of pressures that run counter to our child’s need to express themselves according to their own heart. In this light you can see how having children could pose a threat to our own perceived self-value.

So now we can see that there are two driving forces that lead us toward having children; one to share the love we feel and the other to fill some vacancy in our perceived self-value within our moral and cultural codes. The fact that we must have a reason for having children in itself is strange enough to comprehend. Yet, with this in mind, let’s move on to reasons that amount to our rationale for having them.

Envy-1Reason one for having children may be to have them so we as parent(s) “can feel loved and needed by someone.” For those of us who never received the nurturance needed to feel loved and wanted, the unconscious urge to find it somewhere else can be overwhelming. It can lead to our doing things that compromise our values simply to garner the love and attention that we never received in our childhood. Having children may actually run contrary to what our own hearts may desire, yet, in having them we have been trained to believe something lacking will be fulfilled.

Father teaching young son how to hold a footballReason two for having children is in believing that they will fulfill the projected image of ourselves that we believe we have been unable to accomplish ourselves. We can see this in those of us as parents who, deep down, believe or have been trained to believe, that we are somehow inadequate or a failure in some way unless we’ve accomplished something worthy of the approval of others. This need for fulfillment is then transferred to our expectations of and hopes for our children to fill the void. This reasoning can be rationalized by stating to ourselves that we want them to have the things we never had or that they should have the opportunity not to make the same mistakes that we have. They, again, will usually feel the pressure to be or do things that may run contrary to what and where their heart tells them they need to follow.

BabiesReason three for having children, and this is probably the most common one, is that we believe that we are “supposed” to have them and that we are somehow deficient or defective if we don’t. This comes as a result of our own childhood training telling us that important decisions about our lives are determined by others and that we’ve never received the encouragement or allowance for making and being confident in our own decisions providing the potential for benefiting ourselves. We were told who we should be, what we should want, what we should believe and what is best for us. On the heels of that, if we do follow our own path, people become fearful in dealing with us since they somehow “know” that they should be making their own decisions. By not following “tradition” and the “majority” we are somehow odd and are not included in the groups who “follow all the rules.” This belief is followed through in the media with tales about courage being a characteristic and an elevation for vigilantes who don’t follow the rules and “do it their own way” flaunting the rules that we who do need to feel secure and unexposed for lacking that same courage ourselves.

Father & Son SignReason four is our belief about leaving a legacy. We want someone to carry on the family traditions, names and patterns. This will somehow insure infamy, but more importantly, our personal recognition through our remembrance by others after we’re gone. This is a feeble attempt at mortality. This is quite evident in hearing about parents who expect their children to carry on the family business even if, again, carrying on that business runs contrary to their own heart’s desires and wishes.

sex-1Reason five seems to be the most nebulous. Our pregnancy was and “accident.” It’s stated almost as if it wasn’t our “fault” that it occurred. Are we really that disconnected from our comprehension of cause and effect or is it just our way of giving ourselves permission to do what our culture expects us to not only plan ahead but “be prepared” for its inducement?

Reason six is those of us who feel pressured to have and raise children conceived through “illicit” behavior, as penance for an unsavory life style, through moral obligation, religious values, rape, or any host of other reasons entangled in values that somehow coerce and contradict our own inner urgings and heartfelt yearnings.

Producing children is certainly in keeping with our knowledge about the tendency for our species to perpetuate itself. But it seems a bit twisted to always consider ourselves in a position of having to explain ourselves for doing so in the context of our cultural conditioning. It’s a natural process. It seems that our cultural conditioning has somehow made our alignment with the process of our physical urges and natural patterns as somehow demeaning socially but that the cultural “obligations” for having children necessary for acceptance within our culture. The proverbial wink and a nod acknowledges the disconnect but quietly condones its results. Why the disconnect? What is it that is so openly expected from us yet so subliminally objected to Censorship-1when we do follow those urges? Is distancing ourselves from the fact that we still are animals after all rational even though our culture and religious tenets profess us to be “special” or above the animal qualities and characteristics that qualify us as part of nature’s magnificence and beauty? Why is not just expressing love for each other and producing children acceptable enough in its own right and seen as a natural alignment with our own heart simply because supporting nature and love is essentially the same thing? Why must it be something else?

Candle-3There are many of us speaking about being or about following a trend or discipline that claims to be spiritual. But, really, what is being spiritual? Is it real? Is it tangible? Is it something we can teach? Learn? Pass on to others? With so many people claiming or professing it, and in coming from so many different walks of life and disciplines, how can we really have a clear understanding of what it truly is? Or is it something that is strictly personal, innate and pertains to only that which comes from within? There seems to be no clear cut definition. Spirituality seems to be our assumed road to what we perceive as a method toward the resolution of a deeply unconscious urge for fulfillment of something that feels absent and is almost indescribable. Let’s look at some of the more commonly assumed versions and characteristics of it so you can have clarity in determining what it is for yourself.

First, I would suggest that most of us would essentially agree that spirituality is mostly an intangible idea, although, many of its applications, if we can call them as such, are tangible in nature. Their effects are assumed to encourage adjustments to our behavior for specific results in the way that we live our lives in the tangible world. But that sense of intangibility comes from a source deeper and mostly undefined within us, especially, since most of our attention goes toward more clearly defined surface issues like our survival and what we exchange with others. But once those surface issues have been sufficiently handled, there surfaces a gnawing feeling within us that says it just isn’t enough. Something still remains unanswered and unfulfilled. It’s then that we start looking toward the less tangible currents that feed our feeling, that is, if we’re mature enough to accept what we’re feeling. Those of us who are not end up pursuing a more intense versions of the same physical stimulus just to break the perceived barrier between us and our idea of ecstasy, thereby, keeping its access within our perceived control.

Director-2There are those of us who interpret spirituality as relating to an imagined deity who is assumed to have initiated and administers the physical world we find ourselves living in. In that belief there is an underlying and unconscious assumption that our existence and movements are all observed and controlled by this deity making them eminently more accountable than we for our existence and actions. Believing in this deity, essentially, eliminates our need for looking any further for understandings and insights about the reason for our “being here” let alone being responsible for our existence. The emptiness or unanswered urges are just accepted by us as being unknown to us and only known to that deity and under the charge and wisdom we’ve assigned to them.

I believe that for the rest of us this unanswered and unfulfilled part of us acts as the driving force to find that something that we feel is missing.  The different methods that we use to pursue fulfillment to that end we often make and then call a spiritual tradition. It can appear in the form of religion, extreme sensory oriented stimulation or an intangible and practicable discipline either devoid of or with a creator and administrator at the peak of our intended accomplishments within the discipline.

The urge to connect with a creator or deity through religious disciplines is not the only version of our seeking the fulfillment from outside of ourselves by virtue on another entity. I believe that the subconscious urge we feel can also come from a source we can call a belief in ancient aliens seeding our planet. A general version of the story goes like this. Millions of years ago aliens came to this planet in search of the commodities that supported their way of life including the mining of minerals. We as an ignorant and more immature species were transported with them as workers to perform the physical labor. When the acquisition of what they needed was completed, their cargo would be substituted for us leaving us to dwell here on Alien DNAthe planet after they left. It is said that we also were used for DNA experiments leading to producing different variations of our life form. Those who believe this have even gone so far as to state that Noah’s ark was actually a DNA bank constructed so they may collect their successful experiments and wipe the face of the earth of their completed or no longer viable experiment (us) with a flood so they might start over. A few of us still survived implanted with a deep racial memory of wishing to return to our home. It is believed that our unconscious urge for the unanswered fulfillment within us is that wish and that the tendency to believe in an external deity is an extension of worshipping those who brought us here. Since there was more than one alien, this may also account for cultures who support a belief in multiple gods. The urge to go home can also be viewed as our wish to return to what we now interpret as the Garden of Eden.

Our culture has gotten so over involved in our mental functioning and so far away from acknowledging and following our inner feelings that our quest for fulfilling this almost indescribable urge has been becoming harder and harder to express, recognize and “put our finger on” let alone find terms that can bring us a clear explanation of what it is that we’re actually dealing with. The urge is simple. But we’ve made working it into an understandable goal damn near impossible through relating to it almost exclusively in a mental format.

Many of these examples of addressing this inner urge have produce a vehemence, an intensity and almost a feeling of desperation in our beliefs and dedication in light of the fact that very few of us can actually conceive of any other means of answering the “void” of what we feel let Sysiphus-1alone comprehend the simplicity of what we seek. What is so ironic is that the more we focus on what it is that we don’t have (fulfillment), the more of the same the universe gives us through the Law of Attraction by virtue of what we’re focusing on. It’s like the harder and further we chase it, the faster and further it moves away. When we relax and don’t focusing on our striving, the more we emulate the earth in producing gravity that attracts toward us whatever it is that needs to be “filled in.”

All the above reasons for feeling and even understanding how to handle the void seem clear and easy enough to comprehend its dynamics. But then our psychological makeup throws us a curve ball. Now relationships enter the picture and the growing expectation that all of our voids, “missing halves” and parts will be filled and answered by the presence and actions of the other person. At this point we stop looking for answers and assume the relationship will be the answer to our prayers. The amount and degree of underlying expectations and assumptions we then make are staggering. We allow ourselves to be swept away by the belief that we will be fulfilled on all levels by the other person.

I believe that this decision is made as a result of and in the wake of our early training and fostered expectation that the world will not only dictate where our efforts should be applied for our happiness but that our desired results will also come from outside ourselves. This leaves us wide open to ignoring the fact that our own happiness is of our own doing and our own responsibility. The simple fact is that the universe answers us based on where we put our attention and our energy. So, now with our putting our energy and attention into another person, we again ignore our inner urgings in favor of our childhood trained need to belong and Blaming-1be fulfilled by the world…a promise issued by the world and our parents but impossible to be fulfilled. As we progress with our expectations, our partner is not able to fulfill our imagined and desired expectations for their behavior, let alone, have knowledge of them. In our childish state of being unaccountable, we blame our partner for our lack of happiness and fulfillment and once again slowly become aware of the pain of the rising void within us. If we are on the threshold of emotional maturity, we begin to make the connection between our accountability and our own happiness. If not, we fixate on another partner expecting the same impossible fulfillment.

If we wish to, we can view our entrainment by the world and our parents into expecting the world to answer our desires and urges as a disservice. But they are only following the natural flow of the physical world, that is, they are not only in the world but also of it. They’re doing what they we trained to do and believe also. However, if it is true that we are only in this world by virtue of our own desire to experience what it has to offer, wouldn’t it make sense to expose us to circumstances that would challenge the ease of where we resided before we came here? Wouldn’t that challenge give us something to contrast so we would know the direction to follow in order to fulfill that desired goal of having the experience? If we actually chose to come here, would religion and spirituality be aligned with that intention by fostering a need to escape back to where we came from? Is escaping back to the “Garden of Eden” in alignment with that Master Po & Kwai Changintention? I think not. I believe that our choice to come here for the experience is our original intention. I also believe that the void is also within us simply to give us a reminder of who we are and a place to return to in order to revitalize our intention. Our recurring awareness of the void within our spirituality is simply our way of reminding ourselves about what it is that we came here to do.

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Intuitive light-2When we speak of intuition there appears to be many different interpretations about what the word actually means. Some of us equate it with instinct. Some of us with gut feeling. Some haven’t a clue and others refer to it as something that is intangible asserting that only some people have it let alone use it. The one common thread between all the interpretations is that it is intangible. With this I tend to agree. But let’s look more closely so we can make a distinction between them so we have a clean common idea of what we’re delineating.

The most common intangible is referred to as our gut feeling. It is even accepted as being present by the scientific community but with a wink and a tremendous amount of reservation since it is not “provable.” Probably the most important distinction we can make to refine our understanding of how to use the intangibles is the difference between our gut feeling and our Fight or flightintuition. Even though instinct is something that is much more connected to our physical history and genetics it only gives us the ability to act for the benefit of our safety and comfort without our recognition of its presence making mediation by the mind unnecessary. The fear response to danger is a good example showing how our instinctual or automatic reaction to the presence of danger leads us to fight or flight before the involvement of our rationalizing mind telling us what is needed.

The biggest difference between gut feeling and intuition is that the gut feeling only supplies the urge toward some sort of action or inaction while intuition may contain the same urge but presents as a “full picture” of its potential, if not actual, completion in the future.

Our gut feeling is a nebulous and generally undefined area where as the intuition can supply us with a crystal clear flash of where our actions might lead us. With intuition, we essentially, receive a “photograph” of the finished product but also with feeling.

SHbox2print23The dynamics of intuition operate much like a dream in that it is free of the constructs of time and therefore often difficult to define in linear terms. We can see the effects of the linear mind’s attempts to delineate a dream by its inability to create a linear thread out of events perceived in a multidimensional format. It’s much like trying to describe a globe on flat paper. The paper does not provide a dimension of depth for its fullest description.

To more fully describe the nature and dynamics of intuition it would be helpful to describe the process of dreaming which essentially yields the same results but without the conscious mind to interfere…at least until we wake up and attempt to apply it.

When we fall asleep the body is no longer subject to the sequencing applied by the mind. The mental tension that holds and sorts with it is now absent and the body may regenerate itself through returning to a state of bodily and “mindless” balance. The body has a natural ability to reestablish stasis when it is free of external factors. The mind is, essentially, an external factor by virtue of its ability to use separation of characteristics in the physical world as its organizational tool for comparison leading to forming judgments through comparison and their ultimate commitment to memory creating a byproduct of triggerable emotion. Feeling and emotion are interrelated but there is an important difference between them which is much too long to cover here.

Intuitive dreamscape-2In sleep, the intuitive landscape is re-established (it was within us before we were born as was feeling). The influence of the mind has been “terminated” through the collapse of time. We are aware of the separation of things which allows us to define them but we are now in a sea of feeling where everything happens at once and everything is interconnected. This is the domain of intuition. Here, everything “occurs” in a flash, instantaneously, at once, with no beginning or end. It simply exists or it doesn’t. There is no before or after. For intuition, there is only now. What we perceive flashes in and out; exists then it doesn’t…or never did. There is no past (memory). There is no future (intention). There is only “I am” or “I am not.” When we change environments in our dream the refocusing of our awareness makes it occur “instantaneously” to our perception. Suddenly, we are just “there.” Are you finally starting to comprehend the fleeting quality and evasiveness of feeling this way? There is no separation of the feeler and the experience. In intuition, they are one. When the mind is included, they are not.

Sheet musicNow, with everything happening in the same instant, how do you describe what you perceive? Beethoven wrote that he received his symphonies in a flash and then spent years trying to put them to paper. When an idea comes to us how does it arrive? In a long process sojourning through rationalizations or in a flash? In intuition we receive the potential realities for our lives in “living snapshots” of potential experience, like his symphonies, in full color and dimension and we then struggle to guide our lives to the suggested intuitive “destination.”

Forest path-1When we begin questioning ourselves about our life path, the mind is always involved by virtue of asking the question. The hard part comes in our desiring and expectation of receiving a tangible answer. Because the mind is so structured and time constricted, we expect to receive the answer in real time or in a way that’s easily rationalized through the mind’s ability to separate out the components of the idea. In constructing that expectation we create a barrier to our ability to receive the answer in an intuitive format. That is, we lose the ability to free ourselves from the mind and open to the fullness in receiving our answer in more than one temporal dimension. In other words, we get in our own way through using the mind. Intuition has no relevance or connection to expectation…expectation is a primary characteristic of the mind. This is why, when we meditate, it’s easier to receive intangible information because the effects of the body have been intentionally “switched off.” When this occurs, the senses and the expectations of the mind are also “switched off.” The “disconnected” mind now becomes easily viewed as a stream of thoughts passing at a distance tempting us to re-involve ourselves with their daily endeavors. If we succumb, the mind regains control of our awareness. If we maintain the disconnection, deeper avenues of awareness become available to us through intuition. Hence, the door is open to having an intuitive or spiritual experience.

The next step, invariably, involves our ability to make the decision that best aligns with our intuition. This is where many people get lost. It’s easy to have a flash of intuition, a little bit harder to recognize it but even harder to implement it. How would we know if it is the right decision to align us with the possible future we’ve seen in the flash? The process is simple but requires an attentive observation of our feelings. This can be best explained through an example.

New car keys-2In keeping it simple, let’s use our intuitive flash of our buying a new automobile. Of course when this occurs, the mind will immediately jump in and begin rationalizing all the pros and cons related to its possibilities. This is where most people get stuck. We’ve all been trained since childhood to give the mind dominance over any and all important decisions that we are faced with. The key for making a decision in alignment with our heart’s best interest lies with our feelings not our mind. The mind is only a tool and available to work out the details of our decisions. Our heart must be the driving force if we are to align ourselves with our inner path and the heart only speaks through feelings. So, what to do? The process is easy.

who-am-i-2First, make the decision to purchase the new automobile. Also, begin aligning your finances with making whatever payments may be involved. Start the process with your insurance company to cover it. Get the paper work necessary to exchange the registration. In short, start setting up all the steps in alignment with making your choice manifest itself. Having done all this, now stop. Ask yourself how you feel. Are you excited? Panicked? At ease? Looking beyond the task? Does it worry you? Does it lead you toward thinking of all the possibilities your life might now offer? The feeling it evokes now involves your gut feeling. Remember that nebulous undifferentiated feeling of fight or flight? Now, with your feelings having been observed change your decision. Decide not to buy the automobile. Begin shutting down all the things you put into motion to make that happen. NOW how do you feel? Relief? Disappointment? Sadness? Happiness? Now ask yourself which set of feelings felt better? The one set that feels better is the set that’s aligned with your heart. The more you do this with your important decisions, the easier and faster this process will progress and the more Self-Trust and confidence you will develop in your ability to know what it is that you need to do, or not do, to follow and remain on your life’s path.

The fact that our culture relies so heavily on its mental capacity for its important decisions is testimony to the fact that we have strayed far from having the use of our feelings as an indicator and validation for knowing what is right for us. Our paths are not always aligned with what our society wants and needs for its security and consistency. Since our feelings arise bull chasing matadorwithin us involuntarily, they are uncontrollable and often discouraged and denied. Their participation in our lives terrifies our minds which, in deferring to the heart for our decisions, reduces our mind’s ability to remain in charge of our fate. There must develop a balance between our hearts and minds if we are to immerse ourselves most fully in the experiences we have chosen to feel and learn in this lifetime. The heart tells us what to do. The mind tells us how to do it. Is it really any wonder that when we use our minds to tell us what to do that we don’t understand why we don’t feel good about how we’re doing it?

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Dark night of the soul-2There comes a time in all of our lives when the realization that what we’ve been programmed with about how the world works and what is expected of us comes face to face with our inner need to be authentic and true to ourselves. This can occur at almost any time in our lives when we begin to become accountable for our own lives and circumstances but its confrontation is, essentially, unavoidable once we reach midlife between the ages of thirty-eight through forty-four. Probably why so many adults make light of it can only be testimony to our need for relief when it arrives so voraciously on our doorstep. This confrontation challenges our beliefs and values about our reality and can often be a very frightening and incapacitating feeling. It often leaves many of us either panicked or frustrated knowing that something must be done but that our action, if truly aligned with our inner felt needs, might completely obliterate the security we have thus far built in this world as a result of our childhood and continued training. Yet, to step into a brighter light and consciousness it is necessary and unavoidable.

Parents are godsIn our younger years there is usually no one else other than our parents who are our keepers and educators. Perceiving this, their presence and omniscience within our tiny world easily encourages us to view them as gods with having all our needs and answers quickly at hand. But as adults we must, at some point, come to realize that those in child bearing years have not yet reached this midlife marker either in their temporal journey here and that in that they too have not yet experienced the crisis that, hopefully, eventually leads to their spiritual freedom in discovering and following their own path often in contradiction to what is expected of them by their unsuspecting families. This separation in timing has the effect of insuring that their journey, and ours, is wholly an independent and personal one. The most important understanding that must be realized here is that each person’s journey is individual and unique and cannot be shown or instructed by anyone else. It must be listened to and felt. For those of us who have allowed ourselves to be led, this is panic inducing. For those of us who have acted independently but pushed the river toward what we thought was the goal based on our early training, it is sublimely frustrating. Both paths ultimately lead initially to depression and a stark withdrawal into the psychological and emotional interior of our being. For those of us who have felt ahead the arrival of this time, the journey may only take a year. For those of us well ingrained in our instructed set of parental values, it may take many more. And then there are others who never ascend above the threshold of consciousness and remain trapped beneath the surface through our own fear, pride, resistance and stubbornness. The journey and its goal are not guaranteed; only our opportunity to do so.

Odd man outWe humans, by nature, are innately social. Following our early training guarantees our inclusion and acceptance by our clan and culture and is encouraged through conformity toward historical traditions and the sublimation of our own needs for the good of the group. Our adherence to the needs of the group is subliminally maintained through emotional blackmail with the inference that if we don’t acquiesce toward a preferred behavior the support and acceptance by the group and our inclusion in the benefits enjoyed by them will be withheld. Fear of banishment powers a collusion that encourages us to refrain from exposing each other’s perceived inadequacies thereby remaining in each other’s graces and forestalling a need to grow beyond our immediate emotional limitations. This can be seen the most clearly when we examine the psychology of individual family structures.

There are three effects that occur when we begin to detach from childhood patterns and assert our individuality through deference to our inner urges and intuition. First, when we embark on the path of attempting to be authentic to our own natures, our efforts almost always conflict with the emotional security needs of our family and our clan. We are no longer comfortable maintaining the status quo with family tradition and our parents which has initially protected us during our vulnerable years but in later years has come to have the effect of stagnating our sheep-roadblockindividual growth and consciousness. The removal of these blockages to our growth is perceived by our family as exposing hidden perceived inadequacies implanted in them through their early childhood training. When those in our family and clan feel our withdrawal from our blanket validation of their preferred behaviors from us in favor of our own growth, their reaction is often swift and dynamic. They then re-emphasize that fact that their support and acceptance of us is only maintained through our acquiescing to the covering of their insecurities and emotionally ingrained compensations. If stepping up the pressure is of no avail, the next step is a self-defensive excommunication of us and our relegation to the status of “black sheep” of the family.

The second effect occurs in a broader frame of reference. There is a very subtle and unspoken belief in this country that our actions should be geared toward providing support and assistance to those “lees fortunate” than we prior toward taking care of our own needs lest we be labeled as being selfish or lacking compassion. This attitude is even reflected in our country Statue of Libertymascot, the Statue of Liberty, asserting that the acceptance of those “less fortunate” in the world and immigrating here would be taken care of. This perspective came as a result of the original settlers of this country actually needing the combined efforts of everyone simply to survive. This “good of the many” perspective very quickly became integrated with their basic religious beliefs and is now often referred to as part of the Christian ethic. In spite of its religious association, this perspective has become a very quiet and subliminal programming which also lies at or just below the threshold of our secular cultural waking consciousness. This perspective has morphed into the basic assumption that if we direct our efforts toward the welfare of others, ahead of our own of course, that the hope pertaining to our own needs would be answered by someone else doing the same thing for us. This unconscious assumption has proven to be disastrous to our ability to muster motivation toward taking care of our own issues and forming personal goals let alone being accountable for our own choices. In an extreme, this has been viewed by the rest of the world as our having an attitude of entitlement. This undercurrent asserting the belief and expectation that we should be or will be taken care by others of severely undermines the accountability we need to move easily through our mid-life crises and augments the emotional effects of our perceived helplessness generated by the arrival of our Dark Night of the Soul.

StrandedThe third of these effects comes as we begin to address our own needs ahead of those of others, we not only lose the inclusion and support of our family and clan but that of our nation and peer group as well. With these three effects in play we feel completely alone and unsupported by our historical traditions and roots. But that only serves to intensify the urgency and the necessity for us to become accountable that we may be willing and able to listen to our inner urges and leanings free of the coercive and addictive effects of having or gaining a feeling of belonging. Our Dark Night of the Soul must be passed through alone that we may come to rely and trust our own judgment and intuition in lieu of depending on an outside source such as tradition or religion to dictate our objectives thereby also assuming responsibility for our choices.

carrying-weight-worldProbably one of the most difficult and daunting parts of aligning ourselves with our own inner and intuitive urges is the overwhelming feeling of loneliness we encounter when we lose the support and acceptance of those who were involved in our indoctrination into the traditional and religious currents of altruism. Friends and associates who can no longer depend on our blanket support for their emotionally generated security needs shy away from us claiming that we’re no longer the same old comrade who supported them “right or wrong.” Marriages slowly drift apart and often disintegrate as one partner grows and the other doesn’t. Our growth also alienates us from our families claiming that we’re ruining or breaking up the family or that we have no tolerance or respect for tradition and the way things have always been done. Becoming spiritually mature can be a very lonely and frightening avenue of travel.

However, on the other side of the tunnel we slowly garner new friends and associates who understand the trials we’re progressing through. This feels to us as a relief to our isolation but we must be aware that there are also dangers in the practice of commiseration over the loses of our familial and peer group support. We must guard against seeing those who rejected us as disloyal and subjects for our disdain. This perspective will also serve to sabotage the much needed attitude toward our reliance on Self-Trust by virtue of our own accountability. We must not fall into blaming our loneliness and lack of support on those who feel threatened by our journey toward spiritual self-hood. Passing through the Dark Night of the Soul is our own journey and no one else must be held accountable but ourselves.

Phoenix-1The feelings that dawn within us with our passage through this dark corridor eventually gives us so much independence and freedom from emotional enmeshment that our paths obtain a speed, a purity and new light unlike that which we have ever experienced before. With it comes an understanding and compassion for those of us who are still in process of passing through and those who have yet to do so. It also brings an unavoidable sadness in us over those of whom we have lost. Yet, we harbor a hope that they too will be able to traverse the course shedding the codependences and collusions that keep them from peeling away the layers of their trained and subsequently perceived inadequacies covering the pillars of their spiritual ignorance. Perhaps this is what Jesus actually meant when he spoke of “putting away childish things.”

Child ProdigyThus far the majority of my previous work has been aimed at recognizing and disarming the dis-empowering effects of our childhood programming. Since my own background was an extreme product of this type of scenario, it seemed an obvious and necessary thing for me to do. It’s natural for us to write about what we need to recognize and repair in our own psyches. But what if we, as parents, had been able and willing to work through most of the pitfalls and crippling self-judgments that metastasize from such a debilitating childhood experience? What if we had a child that had not yet been indoctrinated in the emotional behaviors that would hide our perceived inadequacies circulating beneath our interpersonal rapport creating a matrix of subconscious codependence’s that would superficially assert our effective child-rearing skills in the face of social scrutiny? What if our child was starting out with a virtual clean slate? What elements would be necessary to be consecrated to their forming psyches that would enable them to remain free of our potentially compensatory codependence’s and operate effectively and independently in their blossoming world? I have found seven elements that would have made a dramatic difference in my willingness and ability to face the world with all its potential goals and challenges. I think I can safely assume that many of them would have served as an ample prevention for not only me but for a great many of you who have come from similar backgrounds.

trusting child1 - Interpersonal Trust – One of the most important factors that anyone needs to feel in order to allow themselves to be vulnerable to anyone else is a feeling of trust. This is something that is felt but not necessarily recognized by a child until circumstances and adult behaviors have shown them and hurt them enough to realize that there is a need for physical and emotional self-defense. Children are initially and innately trusting until they are shown differently. For most of us who are already adults, we have been through many painful awakenings and losses of innocence leading us to choose to believe that not all people can be trusted with our welfare. It’s not that people innately are malicious. It’s just that after many experiences through childhood and beyond adults have generally already learned to protect ourselves from the behaviors of others that might leave them feeling hurt or denigrated in some way as an after effect of their interactions with them. It’s much like staying out of the way of moving traffic. If someone inadvertently “hits” us, they’re usually not aware and are usually filled with remorse at their transgression when they realize what they have caused. Often times as adults we are so hyper focused on our own survival and daily activities that we don’t notice children getting in our path of travel. Sometimes, we know that they’re there but don’t allow the time or space to address them. The key to preventing their accidentally being harmed is our becoming aware of their presence in the path of travel and making an effort to be in the moment with them while interacting and attentively listening. Although children don’t consciously recognize it, they can feel our concern and consideration through our attention to them and know that we won’t punish or emotionally assault them simply for getting in the way. When feeling our attention to them in the moment they will begin to trust their interactions with us and feel confident that we have their safety and better interests at heart. We put this into play by accepting how they perceive the world, encourage their own decisions about things that concern them and support their efforts even if those decisions and efforts might run contrary to our own feelings and personal experience…as they often do. If we don’t have interpersonal trust with our children, that means trust going both ways, nothing else will initiate their voluntary vulnerability to us. If they feel that they will get run over in our daily movement around them or punished or ignored when they express their own concerns, no matter how childish, they will never permit themselves to trust us. No trust = no positive rapport.

Childhood Training2 - Validation – How do you feel when someone doesn’t believe you, puts you down for something you feel is important and they don’t or ridicules you for the way you perceive your reality? Pretty bad, right? Are you likely to confide in them again after you’ve been made to feel that your thoughts and feelings are of no importance? Of course not! As adults, we sometimes give others the benefit of the doubt that they might have had hurtful incidents occur in their lives or that they’re currently having challenging experiences that prevent them from seeing or feeling us clearly. As adults most of us have developed the ability to rationalize the details of our interpersonal experiences. Children don’t have that yet. They perceive our actions as being honest and up front. They haven’t had enough life experience to know that there can be extenuating circumstances for other people’s perception and treatment of us. If children feel invalidated, they usually shut down when they’re around us, or, if they’re very resilient, will challenge our perceived disapproval or invalidation of them. To prevent this type of misunderstanding and unintentional invalidation of them it’s imperative that we, at the least, acknowledge that what they are feeling is valid and important. Children are extremely perceptive. If they feel that we are patronizing them, they will perceive us as if we are making fun of them. We must be in earnest in our acknowledgement. They are dead serious. In our response we must also offer as clear of a reflection as we can for what they are confiding in us; first, to help them to develop their language skills in order to be able to convey their conclusions to others in the future and, second, to establish an honest one to one rapport with them so that they can feel that they can expect our acceptance and support for what they feel is important. No one feels good about being ignored or overlooked…least of all children.

super-hero-child3 - Personal Confidence – When children feel that they can trust us and that we assign value to their thoughts and feelings, they begin to develop, not only a confidence that we will support them, but a confidence that their thoughts and feeling processes are effective and can be trusted in their dealings with us and their world. This confirmation will allow them to begin to develop a tendency to rely on Self-Trust rather than the need to solicit excessive external approval through their many new experiences. If we fail to allow them to activate the internal process that enables them to choose between listening to their hearts and soliciting our input for every new experience, we will, effectively, train them to become codependent in their decision making process. Evidence of this failure is present in every child who has been used as an unconscious validation for their insecure parent’s child rearing skills and self-image. The more insecure the parent is, the more likely they are to create a codependency with their children by making them solicit confirmation and validation for every choice they make. This will undermine the child’s opportunity to develop self-reliance and trust in their own judgment. To validate this in our own psyches, all we have to do is examine how many times we have felt the need to solicit external approval for anything that we must make a decision about. This will reveal the extent to which codependency operates in our lives. This can be a very sobering realization for many of us to experience. For children, this is one of the building blocks toward establishing personal accountability in lieu of resorting to blame for personally perceived failures.

Training wheels-14 - Personal Experience – There is an old saying that we don’t learn from our successes but that we learn from our failures. And for many, there is a label for a more intense type of experience that this perspective engenders called tough love. If we are rescued from failure by our parents or loved ones every time we attempt something that could be potentially sobering and enlightening about our personal limitations and the need for our practice to overcome them, we are deprived of a valuable experience that enables us to know how to handle the world when our experiences in it doesn’t measure up to childish and irrational expectations. We can see evidence of this in adolescents who run afoul with the law and are literally bailed out by their parents so they can avoid having to be accountable for their own actions. Parental overprotection is a symptom of their attempt to establish codependency in order to hide their own perceived inadequacies in their parenting skills from themselves and the world. This behavior will create the same need in their children as they grow to become parents.

How we feel about ourselves comes directly from what we experience in life and/or from what we’re told about it by someone with whom we have developed trust. If we are prevented from failure at every turn through our externalizing of that trust, we can never develop the Self-Trust, confidence and self-sufficiency needed to get along in the world independently.

Children's feelings5 - Feeling Recognition -  When we as adults are asked how we feel about a situation or a set of circumstances, it is a poignant reminder that we are part of an equation where our participation almost always has an effect. Sometimes we automatically ask ourselves what we feel but we almost always have to train ourselves into recognizing and assessing our feelings consciously. Children don’t ordinarily focus on their feelings which allows them recognition of them. They more often than not simply react while being unaware of them yet still being affected by them. Their reactions are unconscious as are those of adults before we train ourselves into paying attention and recognizing them. Directing and assisting children toward looking internally develops in them a habit of focusing inward more often than attending and responding to external cues and directions. In our culture, especially now with such an intense focus on material needs and endeavors, it has not been a common practice for us to teach a child to listen to their hearts rather than external promptings. For a child to garner Self-Trust that contributes toward self-direction and self-sufficiency, it is extremely important that they listen to what they feel rather than what their told by parents and elders to feel. Learning to recognize their own feelings gives them the impetus for strengthening their own personal judgment. This, in turn, makes them much more likely to become self-directing. For the parent that wants to garner codependency in order to cloak their perceived inadequacies from being exposed by their child’s independent actions and choices, this is a terrifying prospect, especially, when it is more often than not unconsciously directed.

6 - Intuitive Directing – Our culture is so hyper focused on acknowledging and primarily using our mental concentration and attention that our inner urges often go unrecognized. By most of us our intuition has been essentially relegated to being considered an instinct. In doing so we have rationalized to ourselves that it must be pushed far back into our unconscious through our classification of it as part of our innate animal nature thereby falling under the list of aspects of ourselves which should be denied and thought of as immature. Since we also perceive instinct and intuition as being uncontrollable, they become regarded as aspects of ourselves that we are fearful of and that we feel even more compelled to allow them to remain unacknowledged. What is truly unfortunate is that it is through intuition that we are able to sense the inner urges that allow us to know our spiritual path.

childhood urgesLike feeling recognition, intuitive directing is another capacity that we must hone in our children by, again, encouraging them to feel inside themselves to recognize those inner urges which, ultimately, give them a sense of purpose and direction in their lives as they get older. An example of this is evidenced by observing some children who know what their vocation will be at a very young age and then follow through on the urge to manifest the career of their calling. Recognizing our calling comes from paying attention to our inner urges. Children who are essentially forbidden from acknowledging their inner urges in favor of mental prowess often follow paths in their lives that become eminently unfulfilling.

7 - Self-Accountability – In our observation of people in the media and those surrounding us we have all noticed those who tend to blame others for their circumstances. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “You made me feel…” or “If it weren’t for what you did, I could have…” Acknowledging our part in creating our own circumstances is a trained response. The more unsure we are about our own capacity to handle our life situations, the more likely we are to blame others for our shortcomings. Why might we do this? Because this feeling of being inadequate to handle our life circumstance comes from early training that undermines our ability to trust ourselves and our own judgment. Consider; if we are encouraged to take our cues for our actions and choices from the outside world and never consider our own feelings or opinions, we are trained into believing that the responsibility for them must also reside in the external world. What confirms that scenario is when we observe our parents doing the same thing; crediting someone else for their own circumstances.

Blaming-1There is a huge difference between taking blame and being accountable. Being accountable simply means acknowledging our part in the circumstances contributing to a situation regardless of whether it is something that directly affects us or someone else. It is a recognition of our part in an action or inaction and nothing else. Blame is a different animal. Not only must we take responsibility for what might affect us or someone else, but there is an implied obligation that we must atone or be indebted to someone else until the perceived transgression is accepted by us and then restitution of some sort is given to them. Sometimes restitution is not the motivation for them but the need for our constant indebtedness or subservience to them allowing them power over our lives, actions and direction. For example, if someone acts in a way that makes another feel hard pressed or inconvenienced, the inconvenienced person will issue a reminder of that person’s offense every time they again feel inconvenienced or need to adjust that person’s behavior for their own comfort or benefit. This happens frequently when a child acts in a way that reminds the parent of their perceived inadequacy or neglect in their parenting skills. The child will then feel that it is their obligation to “fix” the parent’s mood or change the parent’s feelings toward them. This puts the child on the defensive and undermines their ability to learn to deal with their parents and the world from a balanced point of accountability.

The balance and recognition involved in instilling a capacity for accountability as opposed to feeling the obligation engendered by blame is a very slippery and subtle dimension to implement in a child let alone to recognize in ourselves. With a parent who has not learned to be accountable or accomplished knowing how, a child is literally doomed to repeat the blame cycle in his family heritage unless that training comes from a source elsewhere than the family. Teaching a child to accept blame is tantamount to instilling shame in a child and thereby short circuits any Self-Trust or confidence they might have the opportunity to develop.

confidence-2Raising a child to be self-directing requires patience, observance and a great deal of inner work that must be accomplished by us as parents before we are able to accurately monitor and guide where a child puts their attention and how self-sufficient they can become in their world as they grow. In a large portion of our family culture this never occurs leaving us and our children to perceive the outer world as the governing and directing authority of where we set our efforts and goals in our daily lives. For any of the above steps to be effective, we must first recognize how our behavior affects our children and how our accountability is vitally necessary for us to do an effective job in helping our children to become self-directing and self-sufficient. Necessarily, we must refrain from molding them into a justification for how we view ourselves.

Puritans & StocksNow that I have your attention, I will admit it was a very broad and assumptive statement on my part. Many of us may not feel ashamed of pursuing and indulging in the drama, the intrigue and pleasure of sex. But I believe that it is very important for us to first understand where the taboos came from concerning those of us who do have feelings of shame concerning indulging in pleasure and those of us who don’t and what I believe to be the reasons why.

To begin with we must first ask ourselves who were the first settlers of this country? It is generally accepted that it was the Puritans. Puritanism originally took a stand for a purer interpretation of Christian scripture. That is, they opposed the reforms made by the Catholic and Anglican churches of England because they weren’t strict enough in their reforms. Underlying that was the whole of the Puritan movement seeking to replace the personal pride of birth and status with a professional's or craftsman's pride of doing one's best in one's particular calling. As a result of both motivations they emigrated to the Netherlands, Ireland Puritans Prayingand, eventually, New England. Their focus was originally against inadequate religious reforms and unequal birth status up until the 1560s. After the 1590s Puritanism was applied to anyone having overly strict religion and morals. The majority of those who immigrated to New England were the Puritans. As they settled here they set the tone for moral and religious conduct. So our country’s earliest starting point for our perspectives on life and how it was to be lived came from them. One of the reasons that we have such diversity in our beliefs on how to live now is because as a country we eventually became a melting pot allowing other nationalities and religions to integrate into the whole contributing to our current day variations in the religions, morals and life styles of our citizens thereby diluting the moral influence of the Puritans. However, having originally set our moral tone, it had already become ingrained in the foundation of our moral code and actions and is still a very strong, mostly unconscious, compulsion in favor of adapting the behavior that we’re trained into and expected to follow even today. This is probably the ancestor of what we refer to as the “Moral Majority” today. The Puritans did not exclude pleasures such as sex or alcohol from their life styles but had very strict rules about their engagement in them. This mindset has become a very pervasive and conflicting undercurrent which many of us, especially the younger Guy Fawkes Maskgenerations, have difficulty complying with. For the older generations it surfaces as a force utilizing guilt, shame and the need to disguise our natural animal urges. For the younger generations and especially those of other integrated cultures, it is a pillar of antiquated perspectives to be circumvented if not outwardly disregarded or rebelled against. So when I say some of us have been trained into feeling shame and others have not, we can understand how our diversity and melting pot experiences have created such a disparity in the way many of us perceive or even acknowledge morality involved in the way we believe we should be living. The majority of these types of perception have emanated from our own familial history and religious roots. Since US culture emanates mostly from Puritanical roots, Europe, with many more years of history and experience in these matters than us, not to mention having less of an influence from Puritanical traditions, is a lot freer and permissive, if not celebratory, in its expression and pursuit of our natural instincts toward pleasure.

The remnants of our Puritanical background are still present but appear to operate from a much more subdued level, especially in light of the years of progressing social changes we’ve been through since its inception into this country. Our prevalent religions, mostly Christian, still carry on some of the traditions openly while emphasizing humility and self-effacement in deference to others as a component of the religious code but most of them also still struggle with the underlying urges of our innate animal nature for survival and pleasure that remain suppressed through their respective mandates within our unconscious. In dealing with these innate urges it’s probably easier for those of us with no religious leanings or preferences. I feel Puritans & Indiansthis is so because it seems that religion still has the propensity toward denying the animal characteristics we all still share which only tends to compound the intensity of our struggle with them. Because the Native Americans who lived here before us personified the integration and acceptance of these urges into their culture, they were seen by our ancestors as a threat to their ability to deny their existence within us and, therefore, judged as savages and refused membership in our social structure.

So those of us who have families rooted in early American and Puritanical values still carry on, mostly within our unconscious, the struggle between our own personal and animal urges against our intended and desired image of appearing “civilized” and/or “holy” in our social interactions and demeanor. In psychology this has arisen as the separation between our Id and Superego with our Ego bearing the brunt of the culturally required mediation between the two. Hence, we now have developed all sorts of complexes and neuroses to label the different parts of the struggle that each of us may be dealing with at any given moment. We even have medications to subdue their effects so the intensity of the struggle may be minimized if not jammed back into the unconscious where it wreaks havoc from an “undisclosed” or untenable perspective generally surfacing at the most inopportune and unexpected times. In this it becomes the bubble under the wallpaper which refuses to dissipate and simply moves around the pressure in order to avoid its own extinction.

Seduction-2So, now that we’ve looked at how our traditional social structure deals with our animal nature and urges toward pleasure, let’s take a look at pleasure from a personal point of view without the attendant socially required stamp of selfishness and the stigma of applied shame. When we’ve been with someone who really turns us on, we enjoy immensely, have just had sex, had tremendous orgasms together and we’re totally and blissfully spent, do you think we’d feel like getting up and going to work? Of course not. If we’re Smoking Marijuanainto marijuana and we’ve just smoked the cleanest and most potent joint we’ve had in a long time and we’re floating in nature and its music, do you think we’d want to clean our apartments or do our taxes? Of course not. If we’re partying with friends and having the best tasting wine, laughing, joking, playing games, talking about life and we’re loose and relaxed with not a care in the world, do think we’d want to go home, change diapers, mow Alcohol Partythe lawn or fix the faucet? No again. These “hedonistic” activities release us from self-consciousness, worry, fear, tension and anxiety. They allow our innate animal urges to come to the surface. They allow us to indulge in and feel pleasure. Pleasure is the release from pain, stress and daily tension. When we’re feeling this way, does anyone have any effective influence or control over what we do if it countermands the pleasure we’re feeling? How manipulable are we when we’re in a pleasurable state if the activity we’re being pushed into performing interferes with our pleasure? Not much. Right? They why, might we think, that religions and government administrations want to set codes for, laws against and limits on our indulgence in these activities while at the same time inferring that they are immoral, selfish, ungodly, immature, unpatriotic and evil while encouraging our parents to emphasize this in our early training? When we’re comfortable and relaxed we are virtually uncontrollable and unmotivated by others. Then we only listen to our own motivations and urges. Pleasure and creativity are our main foci. The admonition against us, usually being very subtle and often unspoken, comes out as “Shame on you for not thinking about your brothers and sisters before your own interests.”

Psychiatrist-Patient-CouchThe current in our culture has been progressing toward an almost unspoken and innate mandate for our having more and more of a responsibility for, not only the welfare of others, but how they choose to feel about how our actions affect them. This is often reflected in the growing irrational claims the someone has done or said something in their purview that has offended them. This only serves to emotionally confirm our early training that we are responsible for someone else’s feeling. In the balance between our being responsible to ourselves and accountable to the world, this has pushed the pendulum way far to the right in emphasizing the welfare and feelings of others over our own. This tilts the pursuit and indulging in our own pleasure much further into the domain of guilt, shame and embarrassment.

So now our pursuit of pleasure for someone coming from a traditional background is, on the surface, perceived and often felt as an aberration and/or an inadequacy that needs to be dealt with within ourselves when it is actually an externally generated social coercion in the form of Sinsocial blackmail. Yet, when we are alone and not in a social setting, we generally accept, enjoy and indulge in pleasure and its pursuit but always with and underlying feeling that we’re doing something that is not permissible and that classifies us as a less than an admirable or “godly” person. This is probably the original impetus for religion to call this type of activity a “sin.” I see it as an anachronistic trained mindset designed to evoke obedience. What is so sad is that with that morally social “assignment” its effect subliminally and emphatically encourages self-doubt and a diminished sense of self-confidence sabotaging our creative and joyful pursuits.

So many of us have been and still are raised in this country feeling ashamed of ourselves, and I don’t mean just our body and its basic needs and urges, but even our clothing has become just one more way for us to hide our trained and enforced perception that our natural desires and urges are to be viewed as inadequacies needing to be hidden from ourselves and others. For those of us with a traditional and religious training and upbringing it brings a paranoia pervasive within and generated by religion about acknowledging, viewing, respecting and beautifying our natural selves as evidence of excessive pride and something to be avoided at all Adam & Eve Ashamedcost lest we be labeled as Hedonistic, selfish, immoral, and then “excommunicated” from the civilized group of our neighbors. Even the bible tells us that Adam and Eve were ashamed when they saw themselves. THIS is the main reason why sex and pursuing pleasure is still such a problem in today’s US culture. The advertising agencies and our government know this and use it to the hilt. With their “aid” we receive an exacerbation of feelings of guilt and in front of our children, we are encouraged to hide how we relate to sex and pleasure while we continue to train them into our neurosis about it. It's an emotionally hurtful traditional that needs to be abandoned if we are to grow in emotional maturity and integrate our natural condition with our spiritual aspirations and awareness as balanced humans.