Tag Archives: Accountability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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.

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.

Relationships-2Before talking about what destroys a relationship, perhaps we should talk about what a relationship is and what makes to a good one. I think it’s safe to say that as we grow into childhood we all want love, acceptance and nurturance. As we grow into adulthood, acknowledgement, approval, respect and to be listened to are added to the mix. Of course we know that many of us grow up missing some of those qualities in the way we’re raised whether our parents neglected to use or teach them to us or whether they never experienced them or knew enough themselves to realize that they, let alone we, needed to use and learn them too. So it’s safe to say that most of us grow up with “gaps” in what we can use to respond well within a relationship. These gaps are probably what are responsible for us have difficulty in “relating.” I think it’s also safe to say that at least 99% of us want at least one “meaningful” relationship if not many.

So, what is a relationship? It’s just that; someone we can relate to. As the risk of being dry, Etymonline.com quotes the word “relate” as coming from the Latin relatus in the 14th century meaning to “bring back” or “hear back” and Middle French in the 16th century relater meaning to “refer or report.” This makes sense in light of the fact that we get the best understanding of how we appear to the world from the people that are the closest to us. The more intimate or revealing we are with them, and I’m including sex, the more depth and fidelity we can assume about their “report” to us and others of what they sense and know about us…provided our relationship with them is an honest and thriving one. Additionally, the more intimate and revealing they are to us about themselves, the more we contribute to how they identify themselves. You can easily see that if one person is more revealing about themselves than another, this can cause problems in trust issues. I’ll explain more later.

So essentially, a relationship is another person whom we use as a reflection to establish our identity in the world. That being said, what qualities and dimensions make that goal workable between partners?

Relationships-1What does a good relationship include? One of the main ingredients that determines how close we become in a relationship is vulnerability. The more comfortable and trusting we feel with the other person, the more forthcoming and open we’ll be with them about our more private matters. The more intimate we are with that person, the more personal characteristics, qualities and experiences we know about each other. Obviously, this includes sex, however how unfortunately, this is what many younger people think is intimacy. This is understandable in light of the fact that the gradual dissolving of generational family living arrangements where most children, necessarily living in close proximity to other members in the household, would have learned some of the most private secrets and circumstances surrounding each family member if only because of living in such closely forced proximity. Feeling different levels of vulnerability with each other will dictate different levels of trust and comfort we allow with each other. So, suffice it to say, relationships involving older with younger partners would have very different levels of intimacy to reconcile if the relationship were to become and remain healthy.

Shared interest-1Another dimension that is necessary for a thriving relationship is to be supportive of each other. That also requires both partners to listen to and become aware of the each other’s wants, needs and desires. With that support would also come a need for there to be common interests and common goals for the relationship to work toward together. This support and common involvement gives understanding and insight as to how each of them works, processes and plans their future if only because they’re familiar with each other’s field of endeavor. This helps each partner to know where and how to apply their support.

Disrespect-1A third dimension is one involving respect. The implications of respect might not quite be what you expect. Yes, it means acknowledging the other person’s point of view and efforts but what’s more important is that it requires not only acknowledgement of their chosen path but supporting their efforts on that path even if it disagrees with the values or awareness of the person offering the support. When we raise children we often call this tough love because it requires us to allow our children to do things when we know that their end result will not be to their benefit or liking. We then would only interfere if it actually threatened their safety.

A fourth dimension which often signifies a thriving relationship is when we both feel that we can be ourselves in the relationship without fear of unfair criticism, inhibition or diminishing by our partners. Underlying this dimension is a not so obvious freedom from control issues.

Perspective-2The last dimension I’ll cite is honesty. I’ve left this for last because its absence collapses the effectiveness of every other quality and dimension I’ve mentioned previously. I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this quality.

I have not mentioned love because for as many people there are in the world are as many definitions there are of the concept. Each of us must define for ourselves what love means to us depending on our maturity, experience and attitude in dealing with other people. So let’s move on to specific qualities that presage the eventual death of a relationship.

5 Things That Will Destroy a Relationship:
broken-promises-11. Broken trust. For most people this is probably the number one factor contributing to the collapse of a relationship. What we expect from or assume about the other person constitutes how we validate why we trust them. Ensuing experience with them only serves to confirm or deny that trust. If we expect them to be monogamous and they’re not, we feel betrayed. If we expect them to share their time, money and support with us and they don’t, we feel taken advantage of. If we believe that they are listening to us and we find that they haven’t, we feel insulted and disrespected. I think you get the idea. If what we expect of them doesn’t materialize, we lose our trust in them.

blindmen-elephant-22. Unspoken expectations or assumptions. This factor works very closely with broken trust. This is probably one of the hardest things for us to see occurring in our relationships. Remember included or omitted qualities taught us by our parents? Whatever we are brought up with, or without, we naturally assume that our significant other will have in their characteristic makeup. So to illustrate a point, if we were raised in a family where monogamy was expected and practiced and our significant other wasn’t, their casual transgressions will not seem as important to them as they would to us and trust and intimacy issues will plummet through the floor. We won’t be able to understand how they can treat it so lightly and they won’t understand why we take it so seriously. The key is that if it was never discussed before, it would be a powder keg just waiting for a spark. So, our best policy for any relationship is to discuss what it is that we expect from each other so there are no surprises. We could also include cultural and religious differences as contributing to unseen expectations.

Blaming-13. One sided blame for shared events. Being accountable for our own behavior in a relationship is something that we learn in our early childhood. If blame was our parental method of choice for keeping us hopping and performing for them, we will tend to do the same thing in our own intimate relationships, especially, when the majority of us seek to repeat the rapport we had with our opposite sexed parent when growing up if only to feel familiar and comfortable in the new relationship. But what if our significant other was raised being taught to be accountable for their own actions and their parents also honestly and fairly admitted their culpability in challenging shared circumstances? What would that do to the willingness of our significant other to divulge their involvement in circumstances if they were to only expect blame and derision from us when they did? Would they continue to be forthcoming in becoming vulnerable to us? I think not. They would begin to shut down. Accountability is a major factor in the death of many immature relationships. If we can’t be honest about our involvement in difficult situations, especially if they’re shared, how can a relationship develop any openness in each other’s space? Most people who are solely blamed for all relationship difficulties usually refrain from ever again talking about circumstances that draw blame. Another death null for the relationship through decreasing vulnerability, intimacy and trust.

mine-all-mine-14. Selfishness. There are two reasons why selfishness can be expressed in a relationship. The first one and least toxic is when one of the partners was simply never trained by their parents or teachers to put themselves in the shoes of another person. Be aware that compassion is learned not innate. As the child grows into an adult this will also show itself more subtlety as insensitivity and lack of consideration. It’s not that the person is intentionally selfish but that they had just never been made acquainted with how anyone else might feel when others experienced them. This type is usually fairly easy to “fix” provided the person who wasn’t trained is open toward learning in order to make the relationship better. The second is more toxic and hurtful to the relationship. This is where the person did learn the sensitivities another might feel but decided to ignore or abuse these qualities. This would also include being unsupportive unless the support could be used for personal advantage. The reasons that would have made the person use them this way range anywhere from experiencing a trauma to simply receiving abuse themselves thereby contributing to a severely low self-image making them think that they don’t deserve and won’t receive compassion or consideration. Then, since they didn’t receive it themselves and feel they don’t deserve it, they would assume that that permitted them to abuse the qualities in others “evening the score.” To “fix” this would probably require extensive therapy of some sort. This type of circumstance would certainly produce a lopsided relationship in terms of mutual rapport. Often times the “user” is not discovered until the relationship has progressed well into the future due to the fact that most compassionate people are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Bad Dog5. Evasiveness. When someone is non-committal or won’t be accountable in shared circumstances, our faith in their ability to be trusted with our secrets and vulnerability suffers. If they were raised in an environment where whenever they admitted or agreed to having done something or were coerced into an unwanted commitment and were criticized or diminished when they did, they would tend to adapt a persona of “non-involvement” and simply opt out of any emotional involvement. This is probably not a relationship killer but it would certainly make dependability between partners strained if not impossible. This would be a simple “fix” over a long period of time if the committed partner was willing to work with them long enough to “prove” that they could be trusted more than their parents or siblings not to attack or diminish the “damaged” partner. If the committed partner did not have the patience or enough caring for the “damaged” partner, this would lead them to terminate the relationship.

Work together-1Based on the fact that many of these perspectives are still held by a great many people, we can see how it certainly takes work and effort to build and then maintain a thriving and successful relationship. The sins of the father and mother certainly appear as the sins of the sons and daughters and provide a plethora of opportunities for therapeutic disciplines to correct our basic and historical “omissions” and abuses encountered in our childhoods. As much as we think that “All we need is love,” there are definitely other factors that must be considered and dealt with if we are to have the safe, comfortable and secure relationships we all have fantasized about. We can only hope that our desire and emotional capabilities have enough inertia and passion to overcome many of the pitfalls described here. In light of these issues, a good relationship is a prize worth being thankful for.

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