Tag Archives: selfishness

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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Shapeshifters-Tiger PantherSo much has been written about why we are here in these bodies in this time. Since most of us cannot remember not being here, the only thing we can do is proffer assumptions, suppositions and theories as to why we are here. And since the why is so prevalent, how we make the shift and its consequences is rarely addressed. The larger part of our contemporary Western civilization works from a perspective of altruism (to serve others or a deity at the expense of personal benefit or expectation) which is at the root of most Judaeo-Christian beliefs. The fact that the Western world inundates us with an altruistic belief system at an age where our ability to reason or make personal choices has not yet been developed accounts for the fact that it is so prevalent in our culture and so difficult to think past or recognize any alternate perspectives. In view of this altruistic saturation of our culture’s perspectives, considerations of any other belief systems offered as alternatives are few and far between at best. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with having an altruistic perspective, however, more of a balance that allows for an individual’s pursuit of an enjoyable personal life and livelihood without our current subliminal and implied application of guilt based on selfishness is sorely needed. The bottom line to this type of thinking is that we have been trained into believing that any value we hold about who we are and what our worth might be is determined, not our own assessment, but by others and their perceptions of “what” we’re worth and to whom. So, in a nutshell, the world determines first, who we are, what we must aspire to become and how we must act while “getting there.” Once we realize this we end up asking ourselves, “Doesn’t my opinion matter?” What’s ironic is that our opinion does matter but only in reference to valuing others. It’s almost like we’re forbidden to apply value to ourselves except in view of how we relate to others and they to us.

The need to be able to take care of our own needs is certainly of paramount importance; however, to focus on ourselves within the purview of others almost always gains a label that somehow infers selfishness which, in recent years and is most visibly apparent in almost all of the contemporary “spiritual” disciplines. It has gained tremendous momentum in equating any selfishness to having a “negative” or undesirable connotation. This often subliminal undercurrent coupled with our Judaeo-Christian perspective makes it seem that if we don’t have a dedication to the cause of those who are “less fortunate” than us that we are somehow deficient, immoral or insensitive. This has grown into a subtle and subliminal oppression making it very difficult for us to gather and maintain motivation for formulating and adhering to a life path that benefits us and those similar to us without applying an underlying guilt that by doing so we are depriving others who might be in “need” of our assistance. This dynamic operates well beneath our threshold of awareness for most of us in our Western culture. Our financial and political systems have geared themselves exceedingly well to this subtle dynamic and have played us mercilessly. So much so that the dynamics of altruism and its effects have become so deeply ingrained in our psyches that it has become almost impossible for most of us to recognize its deprecating effects on our own personal happiness. When we feel that we have no space, let alone allowance, for us to have a way to express our own individualism and creativity, a pervading wave of depression steeps us in helplessness permeating our general consciousness.

The Fountainhead-2There have been pioneers who have put forth literary examples of how to free ourselves from the constricting effects inherent in living within an extreme altruistic envelop but they have met with the same accusation of selfishness, immorality and insensitivity toward the “needs” of others. Among them are literary works such as “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand who has gained some attraction among a small following but has not done enough to raise our consciousness enough for us to be able to perceive and remedy the oppressive stronghold that altruism has invisibly held over our culture. However, where anything is oppressed always has a resulting resistance and acts much like a bubble in the wallpaper simply moving under the pressure until it can find a point of release. Another approach has been slowly growing momentum in the “spiritual” field producing a method for release and slipping past the moral “watchdogs” of altruism potentially freeing us from our unconsciously nagging waves of depression and occasional hopelessness. One such approach is the growing momentum in those who learn and use the “Law of Attraction.”

Atlas ShruggedMy first encounter with LOA was in 2006. During that time I was still wrapped in the mindset of “poverty consciousness” which was well connected to the followers of any metaphysical or contemporary spiritual practice. Altruism was, and still is in many cases, well ingrained in these and like disciplines. So my perspective then was that this was just a new gimmick and a group of people geared up toward “acquiring stuff.” So, I simply passed over it as a fad much the same way I did for the shaman wave in the 05’s and the angels fad in the 09’s. Little did I know…

The VortexIn 2013 I came across a CD about LOA called “The Vortex.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. Once I listened through I was hooked. Something in it resonated strongly within me but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. I listened to it a number of times and the underlying meaning penetrated to my core giving me a self-clarity I had never had before. Not about whom I should be. Not about how good or bad I was. Not about rules, regulations, dogma or discipline but about recognizing the inner urges that were my indicators and directionals about where I should look to find the validation I needed to allow and empower my Self-Trust and to fuel and maintain my motivation to express, create and enjoy life in spite of the endlessly perceived outer moral and cultural directives replaying within me like a tape caught in a repetitive mental loop. I found my childhood programming challenged with a perspective that allowed for more of a balance between my inner and outer worlds. Personal expression and acknowledgment of its value had become more of an option. I was psyched.

law-of-attraction-1For the next two years I downloaded and played all I could from YouTube.com. I saturated myself with the teachings. Slowly, a subtle but very strong shift grew in my understanding about the altruistic path I had been following and a different approach which included what was needed for the people in my circle of friends and acquaintances but still allowed me to pursue what I wanted guilt free. However, implementing it would involve excommunication from many of my friends and connections until a shift toward those more aligned with my personal path could take place. The basic premise behind the whole approach is that what I think about and focus on will be what comes back to me. So, if I resist something that I’m afraid of, I will attract more of what I’m afraid of. If I think about what I don’t have, I will attract more of the emptiness. If I complain about what I don’t like, I will attract more of what I don’t like. The Law of Attraction is very simple. Energy and manifestation simply follows thought. So the bible was right after all. “As a man thinketh, so he is!”

So now you’re probably asking, “How can focusing on what I have an urge to do or be answer what my new neighbors, friends and connections might need?” The answer is very simple but it’s an explanation that takes a ride around the corner from what might be expected.

At Your ServiceWhen I align my thoughts and energies with what I feel the urge to do and be, not what my culture deems is appropriate and “proper” for me according to its rules and traditions; I attract people to me who resonate with the new path I have chosen. The people already in my space and who expect me to provide them with what our culture tells them they should get from me will not receive what they expect. This will disappoint them severely and I will receive subtle accusations of being selfish or insensitive to their needs. They will wait a short time for me to “come around” and perhaps pressure me a bit more strongly to realign with providing their needs. Eventually, they will seek the support they think and have been told they should get from me, elsewhere. The new people who resonate and are aligned with the path I have chosen for myself will get what they need through their aligning with the same path that I have chosen. We will then serve as models and examples of refining our growth and alignment with the path for each other. In this way, doing what I love and have an inner urge to do will benefit the new people who are attracted to my preferred life paths and life styles as me.

The most difficult part of the above process has been losing the perceived security and acceptance I thought I had gained through attempting to provide my family, friends and acquaintances with what they were culturally trained to expect from me and that I was trained to provide to them before I began to follow my own path of growth following my own inner urges rather than acquiescing to what was traditionally expected of me. The gap between losing my family and friends’ acceptance and support and connecting with new people who resonated with my newly chosen path developed a void which left me feeling very lonely and disconnected. I could say that this was part and parcel to my journey through the abyss or my “dark night of the soul.” Simply put, I had moved from wanting to belong, be accepted and validated by those who weren’t aligned with my inner urges to attending my own dharma and personal growth in spite of the tremendous external cultural pressure. But the rewards of aligning with others who have common interests, goals and beliefs as my own has freed me from the guilt of feeling that I must be my brother’s keeper as I was trained in my childhood. fork in the road-1Instead of being outer responsive, which represents the larger sampling of our western culture, I have allowed myself to become more inner directed and balanced with my own urges and intuition. It is my belief that in the end we will all have to come to terms with making a choice between the security of belonging and the uncertainty of our experience born of awareness.

you_shall_not_pass…is a hidden root of almost every war and personal conflict humans have ever encountered. But how could such a seemingly simple concept have so much power and bearing on the direction we take in our lives? To have an understanding of the conflict we must have a clear understanding of first, what it means to be self-determined, second, what personal power is and third, the meaning and scope of a taboo and how it could create such conflict. Let’s start with personal power and see how it relates to self-determinism. These two, especially in contemporary thinking, seem to be inextricably interwoven.

Living in today’s environment where we are feeling the “pinch” in our finances, recognizing our fading emotional “effectiveness” and where our obsession with “getting ahead” has become our primary goal, there is a perception that something is missing; something that we just can’t get enough of; something that seems to be just out of our reach. That something is what I call personal power. It is one of the primary motivational foci that we have extracted from our comprehension of contemporary psychology, the driving force that makes us painfully aware that without it we are not who, what or where we want to be. Generally, anything that we feel a lack of becomes a primary factor in everything that we endeavor to do. So what, then, is personal power? Where does it come from? Why are we so driven to “acquire” it? Let’s look more deeply.

If you asked anyone what they want out of life I’m sure that what you would hear would be all the common expressions such as “more time, more money, own my own home, have a loving relationship, take a vacation,” all desires that are details in an overall comfortable living of life free from conflict. But that’s just it. They are details, factors, pieces in an overall perspective of how we perceive our life to be progressing. But if we were to distill these expressions down to a simple perspective or understanding, what could someone actually say that would reflect all of My-Waythese factors? They’d say, “I want to do what I want, be what I want, be where I want and do it when I want.” These statements reflect a painful perception that our conditions and actions are somehow influenced, mitigated or, in extreme cases, blocked by circumstances and the influence of others. Feeling this we, essentially, feel that our life is out of our control. Someone else is pulling the strings. Someone other than us is “on the top” dictating how our life is to be lived. Someone else is determining our fate, our path, our circumstances. So what is personal power? It’s feeling like we are able to determine what we’re going to do, where we’re going to do it and how much or long we’re going to be doing it for. Being able to do this labels us as being self-determined. So at this point we can say that for most of us, in today’s days and times, personal power is, basically, equivalent to being self-determined, that is, deciding for ourselves how our life circumstances are going to proceed. The interrelation of personal power and self-determinism is plain to see. This part is easy. Taboos, on the other hand, can be very convoluted and can have a very subtle influence, if not unnoticeable, on how we believe that we can be or are “allowed” to be self-determined and exert our personal power. Let’s, next, look at what a taboo is.

Taboo-1The original word taboo first appeared in 1777. The word itself has many permutations but the use of the word, oddly enough, originated in the Polynesian islands in the south Pacific. The concept is not original as many cultures have this concept involved in their social perspectives but the word is. The concept presents that some subjects and actions are considered to be consecrated, inviolable, forbidden, unclean or cursed. The word consecrated can be taken to mean special, holy or somehow reserved and elevated beyond common use. But generally, the others are self-explanatory in that they are considered to be “bad” and constitute what should be avoided. Either way, it represents something that is, socially, not permitted.

To understand why something should be avoided or taboo we must first understand that the use or participation in what is not permitted somehow “pollutes” or “perverts” the socially desirable behaviors within a particular culture. In other words, for a culture to have a particular type of lifestyle or attitude, certain behaviors must be eliminated so they won’t spoil the effect or feeling people wish to have within their social structure. So laws are implemented, some are written, some are only implied and with them everyone proceeds in their daily lives free of the 10-Commandments-11“polluting” and “perverting” influences. The ten commandments of the bible are the most obvious and the most “discussable” of these in our western social traditions. Other cultures have similar “scripture.” But, like us, they all also have unspoken laws or attitudes that are in play, sometimes within our conscious perception and sometimes below that threshold. They are unspoken because to verbalize or draw attention to them would expose our perceived and repressed feelings of shame related to being able or willing to express them. They emanate from deep within our individual psyches; qualities of our innate animal nature believed to “pollute” or “pervert” the clean or pure image intended for our religious or social behavior. To expose them would verify that we actually do possess those qualities of an animal nature triggering intense shame and leading to denial and projection (defense mechanisms). In western culture, these are the Seven Deadly Sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. All seven are related to one common concept which has become the catchall for what we consider to be a taboo behavior; selfishness. Our social milieu, especially through our religion, has taken the perspective of selfishness and made it the primary taboo in our western culture. The problem this creates is not so much in actually being “bad” behavior in itself but in our use of accusing others of it. In this, it has become a vehicle for suppressing others for our own personal security and comfort while also enabling us remain free of having to acknowledge how it verifies its existence in our own animal nature. This, effectively, amounts to social blackmail. So, what is the unspoken taboo? You cannot be or take whatever you want unless you consider the needs and wants of others first. This undercurrent has been firmly in place in this country and many other parts of the western religion dominated world for at the least five hundred years or more. Let show where this has evolved from and how this applies to us now.

colonistsWhen the settlers immigrated to this part of the world the majority of them had meager resources and were escaping oppression from the European nations. I know that our history cites religious persecution as being the main cause for their migration but we must also consider that in any society imbued with religious principles that those principles and beliefs are completely enmeshed and compatible with the with their prevailing social customs. It’s not only the religious principles that cause conflict but also the social customs that might contradict the way in which those who feel persecuted might want to live. Many of us leave environments that we consider hostile to find ones with more freedom and compatibility for how we want to live. Hence, for the settlers, they chose to leave to do so. Their arrival here with only those meager resources made it necessary for them to depend on each other simply for survival. This coupled with their religious beliefs based on an altruistic tradition of “the needs of the group superseding the needs of the individual” set the foundation for our culture which has permeated and become a dominant force in our American social customs for living based on those original survival needs and religious tradition. Though our physical survival needs are no longer as tenuous, the pattern has survived as a mental and emotional current for those five hundred years strongly influencing our patterns for raising our children. This pattern is very much analogous to how the children of the Great Depression continued the patterns and precautions for survival that they learned in raising their children. These traditions have continued within our current culture but are now a very powerful unconscious undercurrent dictating how we conduct our lives even though we are, generally, no longer at risk for our physical survival. Let’s move on to see what this has morphed into.

Family-Dinner-1As small example but a very enlightening one and reflective of situations on a larger social scale, is of a family sitting around a dinner table. There are two parents and two children. The food has been placed on the table in serving bowls. The younger child immediately grabs the dish of his favorite food and spoons the better part of the dish’s contents on to his own plate. It’s obvious that others at the table will become shortchanged. One of the parents chastises the child and the child is relegated to the status of “bad.” His “punishment” is temporary emotional boycotting by his parents and an obvious perceived “negative” regard by the other child and parents. The chastised child is effectively “in the dog house” because he pursued his own interests before considering the needs or wants of others. In short, he was selfish. Essentially, he has been taught that it is taboo to be or take what you want without the approval of others. He has learned that this behavior is unacceptable and will put him in disregard by others; primarily and ostensibly isolated from the approval, inclusion and support of the “family.” This is, essentially, an unspoken and subtle form of emotional blackmail. This behavior has understandably become a very powerful lesson in exhibiting manners. But let’s look deeper. What did the other child learn? Yes, he learned about his parent’s preferences and the effect on the chastised child learning a “lesson.” But he also learned something else. He learned that if he accuses his brother of behavior that is considered shameful and selfish, he could manipulate his own situation to advantage and not have to expose his own selfish urges to the resulting punishment of parental boycotting. He eliminated the competition through shaming. Essentially, he is suppressing the brother’s actions and creating an opportunity for his own gain with no undesirable consequences for himself. He has learned that he can blackmail others into inaction through shaming them through accusations of their being selfish, thereby, gaining an advantage by being left with what he wants when they refrain from taking action. But what is actually occurring?

First, we have to realize that this lesson may occur either consciously or unconsciously. The effect will remain the same but in the unconscious version; the younger brother may be totally unaware that he is putting the older brother into this situation. It may just become “instinctual” for him to do so. Or, he may grow to become aware of the ploy and actually plan the scenario in order to gain the advantage. In the case of the planned scenario, “enforced” manners actually become a liability to the older brother who is being manipulated through the shaming.

This small example exemplified by only four people in a nuclear family resonates with our social structure on a much larger scale. It shows a social dynamic that has metastasized and is rampant throughout our cultural existence. The implementation of a taboo has become a primary ploy used to prevent others from competing with us. It is an instinct utilized by our ego and deeply rooted in our persistent animal nature as it, nevertheless, still permeates and “seeps” through into our social structure. We have, euphemistically, come to call these people who plan this kind of behavior and who look out for only themselves, “opportunists.” Even in the face of our “altruistic” planned and intended “pure codes of behavior” our animal nature still shines through.

fork in the road-1The introduction of a taboo in a culture necessitates that we decide between receiving the belonging, family inclusion and acceptance of our parents and others while conceding to their desired behavior of us verses our own desire to be or take what we want without the “permission” of those others. But looking back what did we determine earlier? Taking or doing what we want is equivalent to our perception of personal power and self-determinism. Guilt, shame or the feeling of being a “bad dog” attached to a perceived or accused selfishness can severely inhibit our ability and willingness to wield that personal power and be self-determined while risking being “punished” or ostracized for doing so. Underlying all this is the tacit and often unspoken social assertion and early childhood training that everyone else’s preferences must be considered first before we address our own, otherwise, we are considered to be selfish. What this boils down to is that if we wield our personal power and are self-determined, it is highly likely that we will lose the support of others through making them self-conscious of Bad Dogtheir own perceived short comings and cowardice in not acting themselves and they, in turn, will accuse us of being selfish. When we acquiesce and conform to the wishes of others, we often sabotage our own individuality and miss opportunities for creativity by “dumbing ourselves down” so others won’t feel bad about themselves. The irony is that the others who do not wish to become aware of their own cowardice and reluctance in acting would also take what they want had they perceived no potential for “punishment” or social ostracizing. It becomes easiest for them to let us be the “fall guy” or “scapegoat” through manipulated shaming. This tactic produces a very powerful pillar for security in the structure of many dysfunctional families.

What is truly unfortunate is that with the increasing absence of corporal punishment, shame and withholding in the form of emotional blackmail have become the subtle and most dominant control mechanism for creating and maintaining desirable social behavior in our offspring. It becomes a safe guard against us actually looking at our own animal nature while enabling our “control” over others’ behavior who might expose our possession of it. In this light of the fact that it is our animal nature that drives our passion, is it any wonder why so many of us feel so much anger and rage while we really have no clue as to why or where it comes from? We’ve allowed our creativity to become “capped” and what’s even more tragic is that we don’t even realize it.

The subtle and unspoken messages of repression, employed by our culture, amount to collusion. They cloak our awareness of our assumed inadequacies and pose a major stumbling block to a much needed honesty that would free us all to be eminently creative and expressive. It takes courage to call it as we see it and, in the face of “excommunication,” be self-determined and follow our own path. In choosing to express our personal power and to be self-determined, the “excommunication” we risk is the security of belonging to and being protected by the “herd.” Choose-2The choice to risk “excommunication” was most likely a hard one to make but overcome by the great individuals of our civilization such as Beethoven, Einstein, Copernicus, Newton, Rosa Parks, Jane Eyre, Gandhi and many, many more. No one becomes powerful or self-determined by following the rules. We have to ask ourselves, how far will we go to exercise our personal power in being creative and self-determined? Will we risk “excommunication” and being labeled selfish in order to actualize ourselves? Are we still a lion in sheep’s clothing believing we’re sheep? It’s this quality of courage and maturity that we, eventually, must all choose to embrace…

…is a hidden root of almost every war and personal conflict humans have ever encountered. But how could such a seemingly simple concept have so much power and bearing on the direction we take in our lives? To have an understanding of the conflict we must have a clear understanding of first, what it means to be self-determined, second, what personal power is and third, the meaning and scope of a taboo and how it could create such conflict. Let’s start with personal power and see how it relates to self-determinism. These two, especially in contemporary thinking, seem to be inextricably interwoven. ...continue reading