Tag Archives: Tradition

lone-ranger-1Our culture, as well as other worldly cultures, has always been enamored with heroes like Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hercules, Robin Hood, The Lone Ranger, Bruce Lee, Indiana Jones and countless others, even Popeye and Jesus. Seeing them “materialized” on our screens has filled something within us that very few of us even have an understanding of let alone comprehend the implications of what is being answered deep within our psyches. In contrast to our own “mortal” perceived fears and believed inadequacies these heroes exhibit courage and, for many, super human powers. The intensity of their courage and powers are usually proportional to the human frailties we perceive within ourselves. So in areas of our lives that we feel small or inadequate we find heroes to admire who exhibit the strengths and qualities we believe that we ourselves lack. So for those of us who believe we lack physical strength or courage, we might admire Superman or Hercules. For those of us who feel we are not as smart sherlock-holmesas we would like to be, Sherlock Holmes or Albert Einstein may hold our efforts toward emulation. For those of us who feel we lack peace and calm in our lives people like Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha or Jesus might hold that position. The point I’m making is that the qualities we believe that we lack will attract us to the hero that exhibits them the most strongly. That being said, we can see the types of heroes that have evolved over the centuries based on the contemporary circumstances at the time that we believed we were unable or unwilling to handle. Heroes operate almost like the yin and yang relationship of our personal awareness and unconscious forming our Shadow. For those of you who have a limited understanding of what our Shadow is, suffice enough to say, it is the submerged parts of ourselves that we feel are unattractive to others or those that we are unable, fearful or unwilling to act on for fear of the unknown changes accepting them might evoke within us. While heroes may be a person representing our ideal self, they are also a needed compensation to tie up and account for or dismiss the “loose ends” in our lives.

joseph-campbell_bill_moyersWhen it comes to heroes, probably the most concise, authoritative and on target author is Joseph Campbell who has written extensively on the subject including “Hero with 1000 Faces” and “The Power of Myth.” His insights are extremely detailed and documented through his exposure of the historical stories, roles and scriptures we’ve taken up over the centuries showing the timelessness of our struggles.

When it comes to actually emulating heroes, we not only follow what we learn about them but almost always fall into the mythical patterns of attitude and experiences that reflect the quality and color of the hero’s life. What’s even more interesting is that we can find all these myths, on a smaller scale perhaps, in the family dynamics and scenarios we find in our own families. In most families, given enough participants, we can usually find those who are warriors, protectors, martyrs, rebels, saviors, villains, vampires, masterminds, scoundrels and many, many more. So, why then would we allow ourselves to fall into emulating the heroic roles we’re exposed to?

Parents are godsFirst, at a very young age we see our parents a having all the power and essentially as gods and heroes.

Second, we have to understand that our parents lead us to assume that if we follow their heroic behavior, we will receive the same rewards as they appear to enjoy.

Third, storytelling about heroes is the product of generational and family experiences and is used to encourage living the ideals and behavior fitting for perpetuating the culture and family structure that we’ve been born into.

Tribal storytellingFourth, these stories ensure a continuity of the rapport between the members of a culture and insure the continuation of any culturally dynamic tradition. However, on a smaller scale, we can see the same thing occurring within the family structure, yet, as the child in us matures and seeks to find our own place and power consequently “de-pedestaling” our parents, there may no longer remain a hero within the family that we wish to emulate. As parents fall from the heroic pedestal, there now lies exposed to us a closed family power structure providing no position or “promotion” available for the child to participate and graduate into. Additionally, if the parents themselves are involved in their own power struggle with each other, we, as child, have no recourse but to either work at playing both parents against each other to get what we need from them or find a hero to emulate outside of the family who shows a potential path toward freedom and a promised opportunity for us to flex our wings and feel our own power.

Father knows bestPlease understand that parents tell of their own experiences and those of their elders in order to encourage their offspring toward an expected behavior that will continue their current family dynamic and rapport whether it’s healthy or not for the entire family. So, in addition to us potentially finding no hero within the family to emulate, our family dynamic may also run at cross currents to what we may feel comfortable enduring or living within. But, even more difficult, what if the family dynamic presents us with abusive circumstances? Remember, once our parents fall from hero status we now left with perceiving ourselves as having no power or say in any parental decisions. Now, anything that might offer respite from our perception of our feeling of being trapped within a locked and perhaps hurtful family structure becomes an open avenue for our exploration. These open avenues used to originate from historical stories, myths and literature. This is where we looked toward Perseus, Hercules, Jesus and similar figures for direction and encouragement. As we’ve moved into more “modern” times, yet with the same underlying struggles but with a different landscape, our heroes Robin-Hoodmorphed into characters that better reflect the times and tools like Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers, Superman, Indiana Jones, The Lone Ranger and characters still moving with our current belief systems professing to follow the traditional rules for sustaining our altruistically dominant culture. But as we perceive and believe that times are becoming harder and with materialism replacing older idealistic and simple spiritual values, we now perceive ourselves to be more oppressed by an openly aggressive and profit driven leadership. Justice, fairness and compassion seem to have fallen to the wayside and we are now left with the belief that if we want to survive, every man must fend for himself. Now, dawns a new hero; the vigilante.

Charles BronsonThe vigilante is a very different breed of hero. Our first was Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” and then Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry.” Their active dynamic is very different. They didn’t follow the rules as the generations before them did. They didn’t solicit or expect help from the public nor did they believe that the public was capable of providing it. Both became romanticized by the public as being the “Tough Guy” and the “Lone Wolf.” Feelings were now seen as an inherent weakness incapacitating heroic action. Saving the world through love and compassion had fallen from the ideal and was Dirty Harryreplaced with winning for our own clan and family at any cost. Both these attitudes stem from a growing and expected hopeless in our receiving justice and support from the powers that be; the belief that our cultural system has become so corrupt that no help or validation can be expected from our leaders.

Once the profit oriented media took hold, the fear incessantly generated by our governmental administrations, the greed fueling our corporations and vigilante heroism became married together in violent doomsday adventures where only “one man can save the world” because only he or she has the extraordinary powers required to unseat the evil and financially corrupt oligarchs. Psychologically, the violence we now seen on the screen is a pale salve to the depth of the frustration we all feel relative to our inhumanity to each other. It serves as a vehicle for catharsis to vent some of our unconsciously repressed angers and pressures. Our heroes have Terminator-1now taken on a dark and macabre coloring reflecting the depth of the hopeless many of us feel. The progressiveness of that violence is simply a reflection of the intensity with which we feel that hopelessness. We can see these feelings seeping out in the screaming and emotionally charged ranting at sports events. Essentially, they’re venting and sublimating the unconscious violence felt toward those who actually create the social pressures and frustrations we repress within ourselves. Our race issues are a much more visible example of our cultural frustrations as they have been exploding in response to their dealings with our established “cultural norms” and prejudices. As they have escalated, minorities have been pushed way past what the majority of the population has needed to be able to keep it repressed and compensate for. The issues with gun control are now a stark example and only the tip of the iceberg exposing the feelings of fear and violence that have metastasized within our culture.

Whom you select as your hero has everything to do with the level of frustration you feel that you must repress and shows the training and support you’ve received in dealing with the same Crying chief-kinds of frustrations within your family. The dissolving family structure has had the effect of incapacitating many of the emotional safeguards we might have developed had we been raised within a more extended and sharing family structure. But contemporary pressures toward emphasizing personal independence have cut us off at the knees where family support might have compensated for the understanding and elder wisdom which would have helped us immensely through hearing the stories of how and why our elders did what they did. But we moved out and we missed it. One of the age old ways of subjugating a population is to divide and conquer.

NewAge-LftFortunately, there is a movement, mostly underground but slowly surfacing, that has been actively working toward restoring honesty, prosperity and providing a family unity but on a much wider scale than simply as a nuclear family or clan. Here, the heroes are much less defined, and exist more in a common feeling that any one image that can be crystallized and then defeated. We probably learned this “tactic” from participating and observing the actions in Vietnam where guerrilla warfare was born. What’s even more fortunate is that this movement, like Vietnam tactics, has no leader that can be beheaded leaving its followers adrift. Once we become accountable, “spiritually mature” and listen to our heart, we all know what must be done. But it takes personal courage and resources. Our largest stumbling block is the materialism that seduces many of us with the promise of personal comfort, power and advantage but which must inevitably be shared in order to sustain the survival of our humanity.

So, don’t make me your hero. Don’t make someone else your hero. Be your own hero. You can find them all within yourself; that part of you that makes you shudder when you think of putting it into action. That part of you that makes you teeter on the edge of danger and excitement but wizard-of-oz-cast-2with the potential to put you in a place where you can finally provide your own peace and a haven for others who step within your light. Remember, the Cowardly Lion already had courage. The Scarecrow already had intelligence. The Tin Man already had a heart...and Dorothy never really left home. Look within. Your hero is there. Just let him out…

man behind the curtainIn this day and age we give a tremendous amount of attention and admiration to those of us who appear to be independent, self-starting and entrepreneurs. Our desire to be socially autonomous also reflects through what we see in our media, music and public notice. But we have to ask ourselves how feasible is it to actually be autonomous and independent? After all, we don’t live in a vacuum…or do we?

Most of us are brought up with our parents emphasizing how important it is for us not to be beholding or obligated to others for their support and favors, yet, our dynamic family training produces an emotional component that programs us to still be responsible and accountable for our family and its circumstances. The truth is that we’re taught by our parents that it’s desirable to be independent and entrepreneurial where the outside world is concerned but we still remain intimately connected and accountable to our parents and our family circumstances. The truth is double standards transfer poorly in personally chosen values. We usually tend to keep things simple by choosing one set of values or the other that appear to benefit our current circumstances. Unless we’re severely abused by our family and recognize it enough to detach from our family and further abuse, most of us usually take on and maintaining an obligation of loyalty to our parents and family while still believing in our independence in the outside world. There’s nothing wrong with having a loyalty to our family and their welfare but we usually end up unconsciously transferring our accountability to our parents to expectations of us by the outside world. On other words, we accept the outer world authority the same way we would accept our authoritative parents and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. Hence, we allow the outer world to have a say in how we run our lives. How can this be? Because as emotional humans we seek out people and life situations that are similar to who and what we grew up with. Why? Because it feels familiar and comfortable even if it might feel abusive or hurtful. The key is, it’s familiar. The problem is, it makes us lazy. Let’s go deeper.

Puppet-4So now, let’s look at our interactions with the world after we’ve “grown up” and claim to be “responsible” and independent of the outer world in the decisions we make. How do we now relate to others? What and who determines how we live our lives? What values determine the choices we make? We can see very clearly where those decisions come from. All we have to do is listen to some of the statements we make about why we choose to do what we do. If you find yourself making some of the statements you find below, you can be sure that you’re still playing by the contradictory rules we were trained with as children while thinking and claiming that you’re operating independently. The more you find yourself saying the statements you find below, the more work you’ll have to do clarifying what of your decisions you’re calling independent and self-starting. Let’s look at some.

Muddy Road-1It’s the way I’ve always done things. This one’s easy. There’s no doubt as to where the rationale for your actions is coming from. This statement almost exclusively asserts that your past family involvement and training still has a profound effect on what you do and why. Look at the situation and ask yourself, if I never had the family that I had, would I behave any differently? If I then do something different from what I usually do, would I catch disapproval from anyone in my family if they were around? In family situations we usually accommodate family members, especially parents, with our deference. After all, they were the original authority and their needs had to be accommodated if we wanted to maintain their support and stay in their good graces. So, is this still happening here? If so, family expectations are, most likely, still dictating how you run your life and what values underlie your current decisions. They may not be compatible with your current life situations and level of maturity.

I don’t want to disappoint my {family, wife, husband, peers…}. It’s plain to see that there’s no independence here. You are entirely subject to the judgment of someone other than you. Their values are the ones that are determining your decisions and efforts. At the least the issue is on the surface and can easily be reconciled if you choose.

King's fool-1I don’t want to look like a fool. Your self-image was the first thing constructed through your interaction with your parents once you realized that everything you needed and wanted must come through them. Have you transferred the pleasing of your parents to the outside world? Is what you’re doing now is intended to stay in the good graces of friends, bosses or onlookers? Guess what. Your parents are still determining who you should be and how you should act. Ask yourself now, what are you afraid of? Labeling? Terminated benefits? Banishment from the in-crowd? Do you really need the approval and acceptance of those friends, bosses and onlookers? Why is it that you feel that they will judge you the same way your parents did? We all begin life believing that the world runs the same way as it did when we grew up. Then, we have many rude awakenings when we don’t get the desired approval or someone in the outside world doesn’t react the way we expect. That’s a sure sign that our assumptions are not in line with personally chosen values that might work better in our current situations.

It’s the “right” thing to do. The question is, where did this idea of “right” come from? Is it what you were taught? Is it what your elders expect of you? Are you still carrying the needs and wants of those who raised you? Are you still fearing their disapproval and punishment? Many of us still look at life this way even though our parents might have been long gone.

If I don’t do it, no one else will. This is a tricky one. Early on your parents wanted you to feel obligated to them without the direct connection of them being viewed as the authority. They will have claimed that it’s not the way that they would have done it but that an authority larger than them (their parents, god, teachers, pastors, congressmen) dictate how things should be. It’s “not their fault.” As a result, you “can’t” be angry at your parents for demanding your submission. They stay in the clear while the “outside world” larger authority or the proverbial “they” takes the heat. So you now approach the world, encounter a situation that in your parent’s eyes would require “fixing” and feel that the “they” or the “larger authority” your parents claimed is watching you too. If you don’t perform, you know that “they” will see you as without honor and not “good enough.” It will also give you an ego boost if you do perform when “no one else will.”

Table Setting DiagramThere are many situations that we encounter that we just naturally assume that there is a “proper” way to do things. But often the “proper” way includes stipulations and requirements dictated by our parents making them feel comfortable and in charge of the home environment. There’s nothing wrong with accommodating our parents’ wishes requirements when we are young, especially, since a lot of those requirements deal with our safety and welfare. But when we get older, a lot of those requirements no longer have as much of a bearing on our safety since when we’re older we have usually learned to take care of ourselves and have had enough experience to realize when a situation might be unsafe or detrimental to us. Simple things we hear when we’re younger may stick with us like, “Don’t talk to strangers” or “Don’t walk home alone.” This will invariably plant an unconscious fear of new people and situations and make us hesitant to talk to new and interesting people or begin new endeavors previously unknown to our parents.

LongevityWe should also note that our parents, especially as they get older, still have many of their own issues as many of us will as we age. Humans usually don’t changed unless forced to. Much of our parents’ encouragement for us in doing things the way they did when they were younger is an unconscious need for them to feel a continuity in their way of life which often and conveniently avoids confronting the oncoming need to consider their own longevity and usefulness to the younger generations as they get older. Many people still fear leaving this plane of life.

The life approaches and philosophies that our parents lived by are appropriate for their generation since most of their generation was brought up in the same era and under the same circumstances. Additionally, a lot of their cautions to us are based on not only the fears and situations they’ve encountered but what their parents may have taught them based on what they felt, feared and experienced. Not only is it the sins of the father that are transferred to the younger generations but their fears, loves and cautions also. This can be emotionally detrimental, especially, since each succeeding generation coming into power develops ways of perceiving and doing things commensurate with ongoing change and their need to accommodate life’s new and exciting circumstances.

So what’s the best way to determine if your decisions are based on a history or training that is no longer applicable to your present circumstances? First, ask yourself, “Is it truly your responsibility to handle what you’re currently encountering? Who will it appease? You or someone else?” Second, what will you personally lose or who will say what about you if you don’t handle it the way that is expected? Will you lose face if you don’t do it their way? If you gave up the “benefit” of their approval, will it work out better for you in the long run? Will it teach them something if you do? After all, we never stop learning, even if its something we don't care to know or admit.

Master Po & Kwai ChangThe thing with awareness is that each situation in life must be dealt with as if we’re seeing it for the first time. The sage says, “See the world with the eyes of a child.” That does not imply childishness or an exaggerated innocence but with a freshness, a newness free of preconceived ideas and limitations.

To some of you it may appear as if I’m supporting anarchy. But the pendulum of our need to acquiesce to the peace and security of others has ended up where we are now essentially dumbing ourselves down so others won’t feel bad about themselves. The pendulum has swung way too far into the land of deference and accommodation. It is my belief that we have become so oversensitive to the needs of others and the avoidance of potentially insulting others that we have royally sabotaged the larger extent of our own opportunities for our growth, life and our pursuit of happiness. Perhaps it’s time to halt the incessant and metastasizing march of selflessness and altruism and allow our own heart and intuition to take more of a front seat relative to where our own desires and goals are concerned….

Family dinner-1We mostly all enjoy the arrival of family holidays when many of us have off from work and we have the time to get together with the people we enjoy: our friends and family. But we also know that when these holidays present themselves there are family members who demand our appearance and duty on their time schedule and that it’s not just our elders who do so. Siblings also usurp power from parents and relatives. Since our holidays are usually short in number, visits are often at a premium and this may often preclude planning visits with some of the people we really want to get together with but can’t because some family obligations “take priority” over our own preference and enjoyment. To understand the three ways we must:

  • Understand why capitulation is considered a sacrifice,
  • Understand how we’ve allowed these obligations to “fall” into place and
  • Clearly understand the three choices that we have to “get off the hook.”

Why is it a sacrifice? Remember, your parents were (are) children too and as such their parents demanded certain behaviors from them that were expected, and maybe still are, that are in line with their traditions and the way things were handled with many of the holidays. Don’t think for a minute that they don’t realize that you also see giving up your plans to visit friends to visit Aunt Sarah for the holidays in the middle of your friend’s only available afternoon (remember, they have family “obligations” too) precluding any morning or evening visits to anyone else simply because that’s the way and time that it’s always been done. And to boot, you have to participate because it will look bad for them in Aunt Sarah’s eyes if you don’t.

King Kong Sacrifice-1There are many other ways that sacrifice has become a tradition where the family is concerned and many family members are not above using those traditions as blackmail so you’ll do things the way they want and on their schedule. For example, now-a-days everything seems to be done “for the kids.” It’s as if our kids have become some kind of “pure product” of the family and our last best hope for the family to prosper and shine in the eyes of the world. But, remember too that their “shining” is a reflection on our parenting. As a result, some of the things that you’d like to do as an adult, remember, you’re a person too, “must” be put on a back burner for the benefit of the child and their “welfare.” Otherwise, you’ll be seen as a “bad parent.” That’s where we begin to view our actions as a sacrifice. Your own welfare and preferences are forfeited for the benefit of “the kids.” That benefit is how our culture believes opportunity should be offered to our children. The assumption would be that that’s the way it’s always been. That may be true, especially in nature, but not to the extent that we have taken it. In today’s days and times and due to the rush and survival pressures we have so little time to devote to our children that we end up feeling guilty because they’re not receiving what we received as kids. As a result, we spoil them and they then grow up with an overblown sense of entitlement. But I digress and that’s fodder for a much longer discussion elsewhere.

How have we allowed these obligations to “fall” into place? The answer is very simple. It’s how our parents had to deal with their parents. We’re back to “it‘s the way it’s always been done.” You see, when we arrived into the family these practices were already well underway and very deeply ingrained. They’re not going to listen to what we want. We’re mere children with no understanding of the ways of the world. We must be shown and guided through the best ways to keep the family strong and tightly knit. The key words here are strong and tightly knit; tightly knit because it keeps everyone on the same page with what is expected during, not 10-Commandments-11only the holidays, but with every other area of life. Those expectations assure our duties and position in the hierarchy. The strength comes in bringing consistency which assures family members that they are secure in their assumed dependency on how other family members are going to relate to them. In short, keep everything the same and the same people “stay in charge” and a new “position of power” is only available when of those who are in charge pass on. Tradition and heredity still provide the strongest momentum for family rapport or, at least until the family dissolves, which seems to be more and more the case in our current social structure. Things have been changing much to the chagrin of many of the “old-timers.”

So, what are the 3 Ways to escape the demand of our expected traditional sacrifice? First, we can beat them at their own game. To start with, family members who use the “blackmail” sequence, that is either hint or outright state their disapproval of our alternate choices implying that we will no longer receive their deference and support in family issues, will assume that they have the upper hand in family matters believing that we, and our children, need family approval Chess Player-1to get along in our life circumstances. They will insinuate how badly Aunt Sarah will feel when she doesn’t get to see our children due to our “lack of consideration” for her feelings. They may even go so far as to imply doom and gloom about how we are destroying the moral fiber of the family. What they are really saying is that they feel that they are losing control over how the family responds to them, which is probably true. But if you respond with something along the lines of, “Do you really want to deprive the children of participating is such an important game on the holiday (football or something of the same ilk) sabotaging their athletic image and impairing their possible success in the school environment and threatening their academic and social success?” You see, in approaching the family demand in terms of what your child will lose will have a far greater effect on your parents as they don’t want to be seen as threatening the future of “the kids.” This also takes the focus off you and transfers it to your parent’s guilt in depriving your child. I think you get the idea. But you may not want to use this method for fear of the fact that it may make you feel just as manipulative and dishonest as they are. In this case, let’s move on to the next approach.

Second, we can simply define our boundaries as adults and field the recriminations that will follow. Coming of age is a very important head space to arrive at. It’s that point where we have come to realize that we too are now adults and that we have responsibilities to ourselves that go far beyond the comfort and convenience of what our extended family needs to feel secure in feeling that they hold authority over family endeavors. Realize that when our parents lose “power” over the family and its activities there is an underlying fear that they will be left deserted and without support as they begin to feel their survival capabilities begin to dwindle Nursing Home-1with old age. They see many of their peers dropped into old age homes and ignored or even worse, abused. The thought of this petrifies them, and rightly so. But they too must grow old gracefully as their parents did and we must when we follow them. They must also come to realize that the more their children feel manipulated by them, the more likely this will come to pass. When we have a good and honest rapport with our family, this kind of thing doesn’t occur. THAT is what we want to establish with method two. We want to let them know that we’re going to do the things that will benefit OUR livelihood, convenience, timing and children but at the same time let them know that they will neither be deserted nor ignored. This will teach them to trust us which, if they’ve been feeling the need to manipulate us, they don’t. Their parents felt just as insecure as they do now. If they don’t trust us to honor them voluntarily, and they probably don’t, it will be very difficult for them to come to a point where they do. This will take time. It’s US that need to be strong with resolve to see their “training” into trusting us come to pass. Know also that we will become the brunt of all kinds of accusations from family sabotage to out and out abuse. But we have to realize that in the long run, they and we will be happier with the end result if we can stick to our resolve to create Self-Trust in us, our parents and our children through our honesty and tenacity in following through. So, the second method is to stick to our guns, our preferences and help our parents and children in dealing with the fact that our lives, preference and welfare are also important and should be given equal time.

Baggage-1Third, we can simply acquiesce to their demands. This is probably the easiest and more common path taken by most family members but it breeds a whole host of resentment, destructive emotional undercurrents and self-deprecation. In short, it keeps a traditional blackmail in place and functioning at full strength. In general, I think the normal growth pattern follows through method number three, then to two and finally to method two resulting in a mature and equally respected approach to all members of the family.

So, as the holidays approach we will probably pick one of the above methods or even a combination of them depending on who we’re dealing with and how we feel about them.

That being said, I would like to explore sacrifice and what it means a little further. If I were to address in our contemporary perspective, I would say that it has evolved into becoming a pimp for our ego. Yes. This does seem a bit crude and extreme but I said it in order to first, get your attention and second, to emphasize the importance behind the dynamic of sacrifice. As you read on further you will see why I emphasized it as such as you begin to understand the emotional mechanism that operates buried well beneath our daily consciousness. Let’s begin.
Everything we do, or refrain from doing, has a payoff. I will assume that you agree to at least that much but will you also agree that almost every decision we make is based on at the least two motives: first, appearing to be a certain way to others and, second, to further our wants and needs for comfort, recognition and safety?

Fencing-1The next question I have to ask is how far are you willing to compromise your own preferences in order to receive that comfort, recognition, acceptance and safety from others? Because how much you are willing to compromise is a reflection of how much you believe that you are in charge of your life. How? The more you are willing to acquiesce to the needs, wants and desires of others the more your self-image and identity are dependent on their opinions. This is not to be confused with being humble. Humility appears to be the same as compromise as expressed to others but the underlying motivation can either come from the strength of an independent character or a fear of disapproval. This is a very subtle difference and most people claim the former when they are really reacting to the latter. What does this have to do with sacrifice you might ask? They are essentially the same thing. How many of your personal preferences are you willing to give up (that you’d sacrifice or be “humble” about) in order to be approved of and therefore accepted by others? In addition to that, what values based on the needs of others do you incorporate into your own value system so you can feel that you are a “good” person? This is where the concept of “selling out” comes into play.

The line between respecting yourself and being respected by others is a very flexible boundary and its point of standing is constantly being adjusted by our memory of and new experiences according to those two or more motivations used for taking or not taking an action. Those motivations include how we will look to others which will insure our comfort, recognition, acceptance and safety and how many of our own preferences will be met that run contrary to the wants and needs of those others. So, how does this balancing act relate to sacrifice and being a pimp for the ego? Now that we can see our motivations clearly we can clearly observe the dynamic.

TREASURE ChestOur ego, which is how we view and value ourselves is a balance somewhere between our personal respect of ourselves and our invested importance in the needs and wants of our family and social group. The more we value our own preferences and are willing to ignore the whims, desires and insecurities of others, the less we are involved in the personal sacrifices that are expected of us by our family and peer group. The currency utilized by that group to insure our acquiescence to group needs and wants is their allowance of our comfort of inclusion, their recognition and acceptance of us and our feeling of safety with them. We might even see this as a form of blackmail. This insures us of our constant support as long as their needs and wants are upheld over our own. Through this our self-image and identity in the eyes of others, or our ego, is purchased through our “humility” and, of course, our “sacrifice.”

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