Loss of the feminine, the rise of the Phoenix and in search of the androgynous.

 

2091bb35.jpg
Found on https://cgsociety.org/

As many of you know I have written a great deal on the need for balance within us and within our societies. Many psychologists and philosophers also subscribe to the idea that we are all developing psychosocially toward wholeness i.e. to be a fully individuated human being one needs to deal with their inner and outer opposites by learning to integrate them. For those individuals and those societies who ignore or actively suppress part of themselves an imbalance occurs that affects negatively all relationships and retards the growth process.

There are probably an infinite number of aspects reflected in the human personality but I’m choosing to focus on what I see is probably the most destructive to the concept of wholeness, not only to the individual, but to all societies as well.

Each of us was born with dual gender personality aspects. In each of us is a feminine and masculine set of traits that affect virtually everything we do, think, and feel or at the least how we express our doing-ness, thoughts, and feelings. Simply put, these are the feminine and masculine traits.

For example, a feminine trait might be intuitiveness, compassion, accepting, sharing, surrendering, and patient. The masculine traits might include assertiveness, decisiveness, strength, powerful, forceful, focused, and independent.

A male or society that has denied to any degree the feminine aspect tends to be oppressive, overpowering, aggressive, un-nurturing, loses touch with their emotions, uncompassionate, and concrete in thought. The female or society that ignores its masculine nature tends to compromise their integrity, independence, self-confidence, focus, and freedom.

Of course, all of us with varying degrees share these traits, it’s only when a person or society allows one or the other trait to dominate its cultural, or political, or personal ethic and activity that an imbalance is created and out of that imbalance certain levels of dysfunctionality begin to grow.

Over time many cultural traditions have denied full and equal spiritual and social equality to females. And these oppressions aren’t restricted to females either, because most societies also define what it is to be male and that definition almost always excludes the feminine aspects as the feminine definition usually excludes the male. Most of these differentiations and definitions have not only been codified in religions but in local and national politics and legal systems as well.

Essentially by separating the masculine from the feminine not only have we fragmented and compromised our ability to positively impact our relationships and society, we have also severely limited our ability to live life to its fullest.

By separating themselves from the positive feminine1 males have handicapped themselves emotionally, spiritually, and politically. Females who don’t claim their positive masculine traits contribute to their oppression as well. It is one thing to be accepting, patient, and gentle but it’s quite another to become a doormat and a second-class human being. A man without his feminine becomes spiritually rigid in thought and experience and has great difficulty understanding where and when emotions affect behavior. Probably the most destructive aspect of sexism other than the denial of fully half of what we are and what we’re capable of is the loss for both the male and female of their vast spiritual potential.

We also have an inborn creativity, but our oppressive nature has seriously compromised and debilitated this God given gift. It is this creativity that defines our experience of life. It’s what inspires and motivates us.

Ask yourself why we have done this to ourselves? Is it fear, fear of what, loss, self-control, survivability? Or is it the fear of death, the death of what, a belief, control, self-image, and/or status?

In our dreams the archetypes, inbred images, of our masculine and feminine natures show up as our opposite gender, females for the male and males for the female. Pay attention to them, what they’re doing, saying, or feeling, If you know them or know of them, what about their personality or behavior reflects something desired or rejected in your own life, or way of being?

Dream people often bring symbolic messages to aide the dreamer with personal growth issues as well as solutions to vexing problems and it is the opposite gender people who more often than not have the most important information to give.

In our dreams both waking and sleeping the Phoenix bird is often symbolic of the feminine aspect as the dragon can be a representative of the masculine. Note closely their relationship and what each may be trying to tell you. It is the feminine that is and needs to rise from the ashes created by the fire spitting dragons of the world. It is the dragon who needs to withhold his fire so as to be open to his other aspect.

 

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.         –Albert Einstein

 

____________________________

1 We all have both positive and negative aspects of either gender in us as well e.g. the negative female might be passive but without the masculine assertive trait it might then become passive aggressive, or overly manipulative.

The negative male can show up when the individual or society dismisses the value of the emotional, or compassionate and thus becomes dispassionate and overly aggressive.

The negative gender aspect is always there but only comes forward when denying equal validity and expression for either trait disrupts the gender balance in either the individual or society.

Readers may also be interested in the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/DivineFeminineSisterSacreds?filter=3

“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”

d5xp56c-6d8050ad-dc5a-496b-8d6c-0cf920ec1590.jpg
Its not nice to mess WITH MOTHER NATURE
by FrenzySadist
Watch
Fan Art / Manga & Anime / Traditional / Books & Novels©2013-2019 FrenzySadist

My wife and I were talking about an old television commercial about how a new margarine tasted so much like butter and the main character dressed as Mother Nature herself exclaimed, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”. This got me to thinking about our troubled relationship with nature and that seems to have led me to a dream later that night.

It was a dream full of ruins, tidal waves, death and destruction, oceans turning into deserts, fires raging across the globe– an apocalypse, perhaps, but one of our own making, not God’s.

The planet does not need us in order to survive. We need it, so why are we killing it? Are we that arrogant that we think we can do whatever we want with it and that that won’t negatively affect the ability of the planet to sustain us?

The planet is like a spaceship hurtling through space. Though it isn’t the primary purpose of the ship, it gives us a means to feed and water ourselves, keep us protected from the freezing temperatures of space and provides us with oxygen to breathe. That’s all well and good and it’s all incidental to the journey that spaceship Earth is on i.e. we can use it as long as we behave ourselves, but this ship is self-regulating and when something threatens it will fix the problem so as to continue the journey. And the “fix” could be accomplished by getting rid of the part that is causing the trouble and replace it with something more reliable.

I think we better stop being the problem that needs to be fixed perhaps we too need to be more self-regulating in a more harmonious way with this planetary ship we’re all traveling on?

Certain self-serving elements have turned the plea for a sustainable economy into a political tool. This only distracts those easily distracted in order that they may be manipulated to support an unsustainable agenda, the unfettered domination of the few over the many. They’ve also developed a profound ignorance of what it takes to sustain a livable eco-culture and it is this ignorance that allows them to ignore the evidence that they are gravely affecting the ability of the ecosystem to sustain us, all of us. Their greed and obsession with the need to control is choking the planet. But the planet will retaliate and either reduce or exterminate the threat– the bigger the threat, the bigger the reduction.

Perhaps it’s time the easily distracted woke up from their stupor, their self-created delusions, and say “enough is enough”. The planet doesn’t care about our greed, our politics, our ignorance, our beliefs, our religions, what we want or don’t want, or our self-serving ignorance. If we become too much a problem for it we will go the way of other species who couldn’t adapt to it’s primary goal, sustainability i.e. perpetuation of itself with or without us.

Bottom line, the planet doesn’t need us to survive, but we might be providing it reason to get rid of us in order for it to survive.

So what to do…well, might you want to hold the big picture in mind while you act on local needs and initiatives, as local as what goes into your dinner and into your garbage? Think about it with only minor discomforts, you can actually save the world!

Poetry and the loss of soul

12006963_f520.jpgAs I sat working on a workshop on poetry I’m developing I began to list answers to the question, “What is poetry?”

When I came to the end of my list I wrote down, “Everything, and every event in life is poetry. The soul of our being is a poet!”

Poetry speaks of and from the imaginal. When it “speaks of” it’s the soul trying to understand itself and in the “speaking from” it is talking about a nonlinear, non-rational, imaginal, and animating force behind the human quest and thirst for meaning.

Poetry for me is an imaginative activity that encompasses everything in life. Imagination is at the root of all poetry and may very well be the essence of our souls as well. It seems that when my soul desires to break free of my egoistic rational and literal interpretation of reality it speaks to me through poetry and metaphor in my dreams and the events and people in the world around me.

Poetry is about images not literalisms or naturalisms. It is about alternative ways of seeing the world and ourselves. Poetry helps us reconnect with our soul.I say “reconnect” because our society seems to be suffering a loss of soul where it has lost its connections with others and with self. This affects those within the society by robbing them of their sense of belonging and communion.

Our personal myth has also gotten lost, as has that of the larger myth of the greater society. Meaning has become blurred, as has our reason for living.

The current social situation infecting the country and the world is a symptom of our loss of soul. Radical and violent approaches to regaining what is lost reflect the unrecognized panic people are feeling associated with this loss. But this panic is also a symptom of the loss of soul and trying to treat symptoms is futile; It may temporarily relieve the pain but doesn’t cure the cause. Addressing the loss behind the symptoms is critical.

It’s the imaginal needs of the soul that are missing and this has separated us from that which gives life meaning. We see some attempts to address these imaginal needs of the soul in the growth of interest in astrology, divination, magic and fantasy. Even poetry is experiencing a revival. But the society in general is trying to deal with the loss through literal thinking e.g. more jobs, better wages, better medical care, and walls and laws. These may have their merits but are not what the soul is crying out for. Achievement of these goals might temporarily satisfy the ego, a voracious consumer of temporary satisfactions, but will do little or nothing for the soul.

We seem to have lost our excited and loving connection to life. We are in survival mode and this abuse of our souls that we have tolerated for so long has led to the symptoms of disconnection that we see in our communities and greater society. This disconnect is the herald of our greater loss of soul.

Humans are being treated as commodities, objects to be manipulated, and subservient to the power and greed of others. People have become just a means to and end for producing ever-increasing capital. To that end they (we) only have one purpose until they are no longer needed. There is no soul in this and that has stripped people of their own soul expression, their raison d’etre. Modern society implies that a human’s meaning is in what they can produce outside itself. It ignores the inside meaning and demeans the experience of spirit, humanness, individuality, essence, purpose, emotion, mercy, morality, wisdom, and God. Our soul has become secondary to our utility and with this shift in our meaning is the loss of meaning in life.

Are we just cogs in the machine or plug-ins to the corporation god or do we have greater meaning than that? I know that you know the answer. So what are you going to do about it? Hint: the answer is already in the text of this post.

 

th.jpg

Great Expectations: The unconscious influence on perception and action

 

2016-02-05-1454716504-9750705-expectationvsrealitytumblr_m60u61r61j1r9in54o1_500_largefromweheartitcom.jpg
Line drawings of our expectations on the left with reality on the right. Note that anywhere along the line on the right one could compare progress with the expectation on the left and be disappointed and/or angry even though the outcome is exactly as hoped for.

 

Last night I had a dream. In the dream things that I expected did not happen and I started to get upset, then angry, with how things weren’t happening the way I thought they should. In the dream I found myself yelling, “Stop doing that, that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!” When I awoke I realized that this was a reflection of my unexamined feelings associated with being disappointed with something someone had done. I had been chewing on my judgments of them all the day preceding the dream so it was only natural that the issue should show up in a dream.

The issue wasn’t really about the unexplored feelings however, they were important but something else was affecting those feelings. The issue was really about my expectations for their behavior and it was these that were coloring my inner dialogue. And it was my expectations that were affecting what I was feeling about them.

So what about an unmet expectation was causing trouble in my mind or to put it another way when someone or something doesn’t live up to my expectation of the way they should be, why do I find that upsetting? Whoa, the onus of the problem just shifted radically from “it’s their fault” to “It’s mine”. My expectations are affecting how I see the world and then how I react to it.

There have been many studies about the effects of expectations in fields as varied as science, teaching, marketing, and politics. Expectations affect not only the findings of a scientist but on what they choose to study. They affect a journalist, a jury and a judge on what facts or non facts they choose to believe in and they also affect how a teacher perceives a student that can cause the teacher to either not expect much from a student or to expect more. Our expectations affect how we vote, listen to talk show hosts on T.V. / radio, and the products we buy and all of this opens us to manipulation the kind marketers and politicians use to get us to think their way instead of for ourselves. These real world perceptions also affect the decisions and pronouncements that a politician makes once in office and even affect when a policeman chooses to make an arrest or pull his weapon from its holster.

When I was a Freshman in High School we read Charles Dickens’ book “Great Expectations”. I loved the story but don’t think I really understood how the expectations of both the protagonist of the story, Pip, and the adults and others around him were affected by their expectations and how these judgments of the way life should or had to be ran their lives.

And behind every expectation there lays a judgment, a judgment that anything other than ones expectation is less– less important, valuable, honorable, patriotic, or correct… well you get the idea.

But let me narrow the field a little. In my dream as well as in my waking life I tend to let my judgments get in the way of what I am seeing. All too often I let my labels of what something is or should be affect what it actually is. All too often I will let my labels get in the way of my love for someone or something. This is true for not only how I see others and treat them, but for how I see myself that then will often lead to how I treat myself.

But I will always have judgments, I am like most people a “judgment machine” either judging something “good” (meaning it agrees with my point-of-view) or that it is “bad” (meaning that it doesn’t agree with my point-of-view)– yes I can choose to be tolerant of the so-called “bad” but often that’s just a personal expectation that I hold for myself because I judge myself to be a “good” and tolerant person. See? I’m a judgment machine!

One way that I deal with my judgments that affect my expectations, that affect how I feel about and how I interact with others, is to first become aware that that’s what I’m doing. For example, if I were to have the judgment that what someone is doing is stupid I just say to myself, “I’m having that “stupid judgment” thought again. What this does is to take the thought out of the automatic mode of perceiving the world and allows me then to shift my perspective and to look at myself to see what of myself that I may be projecting onto the event or the person.

Sometimes my judgments lead me to evil thoughts where I play a game in my head of tit-for-tat or an eye for an eye and I spiral down into negativity. What has helped me here is another expectation for myself i.e. that when I notice that I’m playing this negative scenario in my head that I will notice and never meet or counter evil with evil, negativity only breeds more negativity. I can use this negative energy to protest the evil in such a way that it makes some people stop and think about their actions or the actions of others.

But mostly I find that I just make these automatic judgments, expectations and decisions without assessing them and that of course doesn’t allow me to be at choice with either the perception or the response to them. This begs the question as to what degree am I really at choice with anything in my life, especially if I’ve allowed most of it to be run by my unconscious points-of-view – those unconscious points-of-view that the sleeping brain presents to us in our dreams in an attempt at trying to bring consciousness to our choices?

Ah, “free choice”, real choice, of what to think, what to feel, or how to act, how much do we really have? That’s a topic for another time.

Living in the realm of the “Box-world” and afraid to live outside its illusion of safety

 

th-1.jpg

Not too long ago I was dreaming of walking around in a box, wandering the inside edges looking for an exit, longing for something different, and unable to find my way out. The box is symbolic of the context of my life, the milieu within which I live my life.

Context, the beliefs we have about life and about ourselves including our judgments of self and our worries, embarrassments, and self-criticisms all affect how we see others. Look at another person and we pretty much only see ourselves. As a matter of fact if you want to know about yourself, note what it is you see in the people you meet.

Challenging our context expands it and it becomes more inclusive and broadens the amount of material and experience we have to draw on to interact efficiently with the only thing that we truly own, the here and now. The human psyche is always trying to expand its context whether the conscious self wants to or not though many folks pride themselves in being able to resist that expansion– they call it loyalty, or unyielding faith, or being true to ones values and beliefs. Basically its just laziness in that it’s easier to not critique ones beliefs or allow for pesky change.

It’s as though this little-self built a box around itself in a misguided (or cynical?) attempt to keep it (you) safe.

Most of us treat our lives in a very narrow manner and get all upset when it’s suggested that we let go of our comforts and seek change i.e. when we are asked to broaden our context.

“Dear me, no. We, Hobbits, are plain quiet folk. Adventures make one late for dinner.”

–Bilbo Baggins (JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit)

I’m sorry fellow humans but we were built for wholeness and change is what leads to wholeness. Rigid, or doctrinal thinking creates an illusion of safety, it is of the small-minded ego and is, I suspect, contrary to the wishes of God or the goal of the universe. Ultimately life is not safe, you don’t have to be reckless with it, but life can be pretty durable and can allow for one to explore all kinds of options. Why would a powerful being such as God want anything less from its creation? Why would it create something so much smaller than itself? God is not of the small-minded and simpering ego, nor is this ego a reflection of God i.e. it’s not the ego self that is made in the image of God. There’s a much bigger you that gives you life, that animates your being and manifests the wishes of that which created it. Do it justice, give it honor by functioning bigger than the “little self”.

Don’t let the “little self” be the leader of your life, point to where you were meant to go and it will follow.

Where were you meant to go? An answer to that question may lie in listening to something other than your ego-self because this little ego-self will always choose the lower easy or self-enhancing road, always. And when I say listen to ‘something other than’, I’m not talking about reading some book or following some guru, priest or priestess, because nothing outside yourself has the same authority and wisdom as your bigger self– your soul. The books and priests are of the box and can only preach to you of what’s in that box.

When in the box of the little-self there are all kinds of things designed to divert ones attention away from the real power in one’s life. There are holy books and all kinds of preachers and gurus who have painstakingly written about or have been trained in the tradition of boxes to make sure that you don’t get outside the box.

What box, you say? One of the best ways of discovering the parameters of the box is to listen carefully to the “box-people”, the box keepers so to speak. They will gladly show you what the box looks like. Once you see it, then you can work out a way to get outside of it and begin the real journey toward authenticity.

For too long we humans have mistrusted our own divinity in favor for the con of the outside world. That’s because we’ve been hoodwinked into believing that the small-minded ego-self had the answers or at least knew where to find them. The ego-self is noisy, boisterous, incessantly verbose, and self-absorbed and effectively hides the quieter voice of the divine within us. This is because the small self doesn’t think that it will survive if the bigger self were to become dominant. But it’s quite the opposite because the bigger self knows that it cannot attain its wholeness without the little-self remaining intact.

 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

 –Luke 9:23-24

 Give your bigger-self a chance to make good on the promise of that which created you– listen to it, it actually makes more sense.

 

 

Epic tales, epic symbolism

 

battle_between_good_and_evil_by_robertadelman-d3hn62c.jpg
The Battle between Good and evil –by Robert Adelman found on Deviant Art

 

 

As a boy I was fascinated by the tales of Middle Earth as told by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also knew that if one fought bravely enough that good could eventually triumph over evil.

As I grew older I became aware of the Northern Norse mythology that Tolkien used as the foundational source material for his work. But unlike his stories I learned that the most striking feature of this mythology was that all was hopeless, that the apocalyptic battle at Rognarök was humanity’s doom, and that no matter how bravely the hero fought the monsters and giants would defeat humanity and the gods of Asgard.

But I also learned that for the gods and heroes and heroines of the North loss in battle gave meaning and mettle to the warrior who courageously stood their ground and fought on regardless of the fact that all was hopeless.

What’s this? I was dismayed that these epic battles would ultimately end with evil triumphing over good. How could this be? The purity of courage be damned I thought, it needed to be rewarded and besides winning and defeating was the goal of all good and evil confrontations or so I thought. Oh yes and by winning of course was meant that “good” would always prevail.

It wasn’t until years later that I achieved some insight into these wonderful tales from the North.

From the writings of Carl Jung I was introduced to the concept of the Conflict of Opposites and the effect of either ignoring or battling the shadow i.e. evil aspects of our personal or collective nature. In this context. either ignoring or actively suppressing the shadow one gives it power, diminishes their own power, and leads to their being overwhelmed by it.

I surmised that if Jung were right, then the hopelessness and defeat so often celebrated in the Northern myths becomes an allegorical warning to mankind regarding its relationship with the shadow aspects of its personality. Is it possible that when one resists or denies the shadow either in themselves or the society in which they live that its power over us becomes paramount in that our violent response only adds to the violence of the shadow and increases its power and makes impossible to overcome? Oh I won’t deny that some battles can be won but ultimately the shadow keeps returning ever more powerfully. Will we never defeat it and have a permanent peace?

We are both good and evil. So what does this say about a God in whose image we are created? If then God is also both, to resist this would seem futile and self-defeating.

I remember that in a long ago Judo class the teacher talked about not meeting force with force to overcome ones opponent but by using the opponent’s own energy to defeat them. To me now this simple strategy seems a  useful metaphor for dealing with the shadow forces of our nature. If we allow ourselves to become the shadow by denying it we will be defeated no matter how glorious or courageous our actions but if we learn to accept this darker aspect as part of ourselves and turn its energy toward good it can add to our own best intentions and we can prevail.

 

quote-we-cannot-change-anything-until-we-accept-it-condemnation-does-not-liberate-it-oppresses-carl-jung-97841.jpg

10 Cognitive Thinking Errors and what to do about them.

Cognitive+Errors+Catastrophizing+Dichotomous+Thinking.jpg
10 Cognitive Thinking Errors and what to do about them. (based on an article from Reddit.com)

We are living in a time of easy access to an overwhelming amount of information and of much over-the-top rhetoric with questionable fact delivery and weakened logic that seems to be driving a fear-based narrative. Part of what reinforces this negative stream are what are called errors of cognition or just thinking errors. These show up more often than not when we are in fight or flight mode and weary of all the negative input that inundates us at every turn.

Note that these are “errors” and not necessarily “disorders” unless of course one uses them all the time and in a way that affects their ability to function effectively and appropriately.

In September of 2016 I wrote about the effects that fear has on our thinking in Fear breeds bigotry and bullying .

The following is a deepening of this idea:

Based on the work of Aaron Beck and others, in Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns outlines 10 common mistakes in thinking, which he calls cognitive distortions.

  • ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING – Also called Black and White Thinking – Thinking of things in absolute terms, like “always”, “every” or “never”. For example, if your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Few aspects of human behavior are so absolute. Nothing is 100%. No one is all bad, or all good, we all have grades (I call this ‘absolutism’ and I find that I use it most often when I’m having an argument with my spouse. Nope, it doesn’t work).
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “Has there ever been a time when it was NOT that way?” (all or nothing thinking does not allow exceptions so if even one exception can be found, it’s no longer “all” or “nothing”)
    • Ask yourself, “Never?” or “Always?” (depending upon what you are thinking)
  • OVERGENERALIZATION – Taking isolated cases and using them to make wide generalizations. For example, you see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat: “She yelled at me. She’s always yelling at me. She must not like me.”
 I’ve also seen this when people support or discount a reality because they “Knew someone who…” or “Read about someone…” or “I have it from a ‘good’ source and then apply that info globally. This falls into the category of “There are huge drug cartels in Mexico, therefore all or most Mexicans are drug dealers”. 
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
  • When you catch yourself overgeneralizing say to yourself, “Just because one event happened, does not necessarily
 mean I am (or you are or he/she is…[some way of being])”
  • MENTAL FILTER – Focusing exclusively on certain, usually negative or upsetting, aspects of something while ignoring the rest. For example, you selectively hear the one tiny negative thing surrounded by all the HUGE POSITIVE STUFF. Often this includes being associated in negative (“I am so stupid!”), and dissociated in positive (“You have to be pretty smart to do my job”). Boy do I over use this one! Both on myself and on certain politicians and political parties.
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Learn to look for the silver lining in every cloud
    • Count up your negatives vs your positives – for every negative event,
stack up a positive against it. Make a list of both negative and positive
character attributes and behaviors.
  • DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE – Continually “shooting down” positive experiences for arbitrary, ad hoc reasons. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences. The good stuff doesn’t count because the rest of your life is a miserable pile of doo-doo. “That doesn’t count because my life sucks!” To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “So what does count then?” “In what way?”
    • Accept compliments with a simple, “Thank you.”
    • Make lists of personal strengths and accomplishments (I’ve found this to be particularly helpful though you may need to keep it nearby to remind yourself.)
  • JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – Assuming something negative where there is actually no evidence to support it. Two specific subtypes are also identified:
    • Mind reading – assuming the intentions of others. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check it out. To beat this one, you need to let go of your need for approval – you can’t please everyone all the time. Ask yourself, “How do you know that…?” Check out “supporting” facts with an open mind.
    • Fortune telling – anticipating that things will turn out badly, you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact. To beat this, ask, “How do you know it will turn out in that way?” Again, check out the facts.
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • When the conclusion is based on a prior cause (for example, the last time your spouse behaved in this manner s/he said it was because s/he felt angry so s/he must be angry this time, too), ask yourself, “What evidence do you have to support your notion that s/he feels…” “How did you arrive at that understanding” “What other conclusion might this evidence support?”
    • When the conclusion is based on a future consequence (“I’ll die for sure if she keeps harping on this…”) Ask yourself, “How does this conclusion serve you?” and “If you continue to think that way… [what will happen to you]?” and “Imagine 5 years from now…” (Future Pace)
  • MAGNIFICATION AND MINIMIZATION–
    • Exaggerating negatives and understating positives (I do this when I’m going down the rabbit hole of ‘absolutism’). Often the positive characteristics of other people are exaggerated and negatives understated. There is one subtype of magnification/catastrophizing – focusing on the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or thinking that a situation is unbearable or impossible when it is really just uncomfortable: “I can’t stand this.”
    • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “What would happen if you did [stand this]?”
    • Ask yourself, “How specifically is [this/that/he/she] so good/too much/too many/etc. or so bad/not good enough/too little/etc.?”
    • After asking the second question, ask yourself, “Compared to what/whom?”
  • EMOTIONAL REASONING –
  • Making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality. People who allow themselves to get caught up in emotional reasoning can become completely blinded to the difference between feelings and facts.
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
  • NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) patterning interrupts and creates new ‘anchors’ that are the most powerful state changers – interrupt anything negative: “X makes me mad” “How does what I do cause you to choose to feel mad?” Interrupt: “How could you believe that?”
  • SHOULDING ( or Oughting)–  “Must”, or “Can’t” thinking.
  • Shoulding is focusing on what
 you can’t control. For example, you try to enlighten another’s unconscious – they should get it (for me this comes from my self-centered ego self, after all I got it why can’t you? This assumes that I actually got it). Concentrating on what you think “should” or ought to be rather than the actual situation you are faced with will simply stress you out. What you choose to do, and then do, will (to some degree, at least) change the world. What you “should” do will just make you miserable.
 Often these come from the expectations (values?) we were fed as we grew up.
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask, “What would it feel like, look like, sound like if you could/did or could not/did not?” or, “What would happen if you did/didn’t?” or, “What prevents you from just doing it then?” or, “What rule or law says you/I SHOULD?” or, “Why should I?” or, “Could you just prefer instead?” or, “Why SHOULD I/YOU?”
  • LABELLING and MISLABELLING – Related to overgeneralization, explaining by naming. Rather than describing the specific behavior, you assign a label to someone or yourself that puts them in absolute and unalterable negative terms. This is a logic level error in that we make a logic leap from behavior/action (“he called me a name…”) to identity (“therefore, he’s a jerk”).
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “What could be a better way of looking at this that would truly empower you/me?” or, “Is there another possible more positive meaning for this?”
    • When you recognize you are labeling or are being labeled, ask, “How specifically?” Example: “How specifically am I a jerk?” – which will evoke behaviors rather than identity (what helps is for me to see where the other fellow’s “jerk” shows up in me because it almost always does to some degree).
    • Remember who you/others are in spite of behaviors: “Even though I failed the test, I’m still a worthy person.”
  • PERSONALIZATION & BLAME – Burns calls this distortion “the mother of guilt.” Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. For example, “My son is doing poorly in school. I must be a bad mother…” and “What’s that say about you as a person?” – instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman’s husband beat her, she told herself, “lf only I were better in bed, he wouldn’t beat me.” Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. On the flip side of personalization is blame. Some people blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they might be contributing to the problem: “The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable.” – instead of investigating their own behavior and beliefs that can be changed. I will use this one just about every Father’s day to explain any problem facing my kids.
  • To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask, “How do you know [I am to blame]?” “SAYS WHO?”
    • Ask, “Who/what else is involved in this problem?”
    • Ask yourself, “Realistically, how much of this problem is actually my
responsibility?”
    • Ask, “If there was no blame involved here, what would be left for me/us
to look at?”

These 10 cognitive errors are all habits of thinking that are deeply ingrained. The good news is, like any habit, these patterns of thinking can be broken and discarded through awareness and practice.

 

Sources:

Captive Hearts: Captive Minds, by Madeleine Tobias and Janja Lalich, Hunter House, 1994; pgs 101-103

Take Back Your Life Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns, M.D.

Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement, by Anthony Robbins, Joseph McClendon

Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding, by Robert Dilts & Judith DeLozier

 

More Barriers to love and the spirit within: The seeds of our own destruction

 

hidden-bully-behaviors.jpg

 

Not too long ago my wife and I presented a Cornerstone class on conflict resolution at our granddaughter’s elementary school. Project Cornerstone first came to the school district as an anti-bullying program. But over time the use, or over use, of the word “bully” to identify a certain type of behavior has hardened into a type of person rather than a type of behavior i.e. they “are” a bully instead of them “behaving” like one.

When “bully” becomes a label instead of a description of a behavior it leaves little room for the person displaying the behavior to change or even to defend themselves because the use of the word sets them in concrete. The label then becomes a way of excluding someone. Most of us do that with the word “evil”. Once we’ve hung that around someone’s neck they’re no longer a human and they are open to all kinds of abuse.

This isn’t unusual behavior on our part in that we humans often tend to paint each other with a broad paintbrush. It’s easier to do this and doesn’t require much higher-order thinking. This becomes especially noticeable when we are caught up in our fear of something that we don’t understand and begins to escalate radically as the more helpless and fearful we become.

Tribally we humans tend to reject outsiders and behaviors that we don’t understand and when those so-called outsiders seem to be of a particular tribe we tend to paint them all with one color. Even the best of us sometimes fall into this trap as when we condemn a race of people for the actions of some of that race or when we condemn an entire religious group for the horrific behaviors of a certain subgroup.

In recent years we have witnessed the horrific behaviors of a religious subgroup and have rightly labeled their actions as evil, but some people out of their own fear and ignorance have branded all of that religious group as being evil. This is of course a big mistake and totally unhelpful to the cause of peace and our ability to detect what it is that needs to be done to contain the evil behavior and how to lessen the number of those who fall prey to the lure of this subgroup.

While we hold people accountable for their behaviors and while we do what is necessary to end and/or contain the evil we must look at what conditions are enflaming and enabling it and do what is necessary to end those as well.

Yes, we need to fight this, but we need to fight it intelligently and not do it in a way that throws gasoline on the fire thus spreading its damage over a greater area. We need to respond to the presence and actions of evil and not just react.

Reacting is a “lizard brain” action where no thought is required just instinctive animal reactivity. God gave us so much more to work with that lies above the reactionary archaic brain stem and we need to resist the tendency to label everything we’re afraid of or don’t understand as being evil and thus subject to our wrath. We need to stop acting like a frightened snake striking whatever moves and more like the intelligent thinking sons and daughters of a loving God we are.

Simply put, we cannot push back the darkness of evil by simply pouring on more and more darkness– we need to add some light to it. WE (you and I) need to come up with some ways to 1) rein in our own lizard brains and 2) find ways to end the spread of evil and once accomplished deal appropriately with the root causes of it. To do anything else will only perpetuate the evil i.e. you can bloody the land with more killing and that may subdue the evil but only temporarily.

History is rife with lessons on how we humans take the wrong paths toward peace. That’s because we react out of fear instead of responding to it and using it as a motivator to change, a change necessary because we have failed to do what is needed to treat others with the respect we would want for ourselves.

Now, that is not to say that we can end all evil. There will always be those who have been sickened by their own minds and will seek solace from that pain by attempting to dominate and control those outside themselves as though it’s the outsider who causes their sickness. There will always be egos that want to feel bigger and more important and will attempt to subjugate the world around them.

Compassionate Containment may be what is wanted and needed in these cases at least until science can find a successful means of healing them. But each of us who are healthy has the means for controlling our own negative and reactive behaviors. We need to get serious about learning what those means are and start actualizing them.

We need to embrace the real meaning of enlightened civilization and grow beyond our reactive tribal mentality. Currently we seem hell-bent on sewing the seeds of our own destruction.

Love can’t exist in an environment of fearful self-protection.

 

thumb_bundle-86-esperanza-y-desesperacion.650x250_q95_box-0,0,647,249.jpg

I’ve been working with a man who for most of my dealings with him seemed calm and well centered even during the long illness and death of his wife. On a recent occasion he asked me to work with a dream he had experienced about a year after his wife had died and I gladly took on the task fully expecting to add helpful material to what I imagined was his quest for healing. Though in retrospect I was being rather naïve.

I spent many hours on his dream that had turned out to have a great many images about his wife and other characters in his life.

His response to my analysis was violent calling it bullshit and then attacking my credentials as though they too proved the efficacy of his negative pronouncement. Gone was the mask of the calm nice guy replaced by a barely controlled anger that seemed as though it had been long suppressed. Instead of taking responsibility for his own anger he proceeded to dump it onto me. Trying to turn his perspective somewhat I suggested that what he called bullshit was only how I would have viewed his dream had it been my own to which he pronounced, “More bullshit!” Clearly there was no room for another point-of-view.

He then picked up his things and whistled as he walked down the street.

I of course was taken aback though having seen people’s masks slip many times before I wasn’t too worried. I also didn’t immediately fall into the personal trap that after some self-reflection I would go into self-attack. This time after some reflection I could see that I had loosened his mask that then fell and revealed another aspect of this man as someone who spent a lot of energy repressing his negative feelings. In retrospect his calm and well-controlled emotional character made a different sense to me.

Unwittingly, and blinded by some arrogance in thinking I had something positive to offer, I had pushed one of his hidden buttons that unleashed a cascade of emotions that he was not prepared to deal with and by his terminating our relationship I no longer had any permission to explore with him what that was all about. His actions had in effect sealed the breach of his cover-up and he went blissfully on.

This encounter reminded me of what I’ve been witnessing on a societal level. Some groups of people seem particularly wedded to a singularly rigid point-of-view. Of course there’s nothing new there but to the mix has been added a very deep and large scale paranoia that will not yield to rationality regardless of how many irrefutable facts are brought to bear.

Many of this group see evil everywhere except from within themselves. They have created an almost idolatrous ideology in their blind and unyielding beliefs and because of this there is no room for a difference of opinion. To them their rigid “faith” in what they believe to be true has the aspect of soul being attached, though soul has as one of its defined aspects the qualities of change and includes failure and occasional regressions, this is not so for these people. They use an idea of faith that they are righteously right as armor against the world that they fear even though most of that world only exists within their own hearts.

There also doesn’t seem to be any self-trust so they adhere to an ideology that seems to promise security from their fears. Unfortunately when self-trust goes out the window so does love. The heart becomes armored as well and love can’t get in anymore. But once love is gone security is gone for love cannot exist in an environment of paranoia and self-protection.

So what’s the answer? There’s a clear answer to dealing with fear and it’s a mirror image of the title of this post,

 “fear can’t exist in an environment of love.”

 

fear-or-love.jpg

Become the goal and lose the soul

 

12333-spiritual.630w.tn.jpg

I read an article not too long ago that likened self-fulfillment with attainment. But it’s not really about what you have, or what you do is it? It’s not about how much or how little you have or the status of what you do.

So many have struggled up the ladder only to find that at either the top or somewhere along the way that all the having and doing is hollow, with no meaning, and at a deep level where your true sense of self-worth lay, profoundly empty.

On the surface this can be viewed as heresy, and dangerous talk, for all national and global economics depends on striving ambition and continuous competition. He who stops to think, falters i.e. he who muses, loses.

Now, don’t misunderstand me I’m not advocating the end to market driven capitalism, or striving, or competition, or shooting for the moon (goal setting). I’m just suggesting that there’s a better way to play the game, a better way to act out the story.

We can have our cake and eat it too. How? Just remember that there is striving, there is ambition, there are goals to be made and actualized, but that we are not our goals e.g. what we are is not defined by the outcome of the game.

The soul loves to play and is nourished by the game, but when a person begins to identify with the piece on the board, or the digital avatar on the screen, the soul gets lost and people get hurt.

When we forget that we are souls or spirits moving the game piece that is our human form we lose regardless of how many things we accumulate or squares on the board we jump to.

So by all means play the game, there’s much to be learned in it and much joy to be had, but play it knowing that the outcome of the game is less important than the play.