The low level violence of “sinner” thinking

The low  level violence of “sinner” thinking

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. Now the author of the song evidently thought himself a wretch, and for him these words were particularly apt and appropriate. Not a problem, he was a slave-driver and certainly had his own issues. But he’s not singing this privately to his God anymore. Everyone in the church sings this as a declaration of their faith. Not faith in oneself certainly, but faith in his God, his religion, his community. A great deal of self-worth doesn’t come out of this, evidently, nor is it meant to. The theology of the day emphasized humility and sinfulness. Co-creation, power and a deep self-worth were not in the cards yet.

One of the chief problems of our world at the moment is the amazing number of people walking around with a deep sense of not being worthy. Religion only underlines the problem and only pretends to offer a solution.  But the solution that most religions offer rely heavily on the patriarchal model of the world, Rely heavily on belief in the childishness of humanity, where solutions come from above, from your father or mother, from your priest , from your God.

We’ve given away our power when we do that. The responsibility we feel lessens, the load is taken off our shoulders, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Relying on the world around us to fix us, to offer the real solutions to our problems.  Conversely, we then blame everyone but ourselves for our problems. Why not? I didn’t do anything wrong, it must have been somebody else.

When we accept our title of “wretch” we buy into the low self-esteem life of little responsibility, and blaming others is a natural consequence.  It’s time we left our “wretchedness” behind and moved into being full- fledged adults and start taking  and adult sized sense of responsibility for our lives. Then the whole ballgame will change.

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The low-level violence of one-mindedness.

The low-level violence of one-mindedness.

So you’ve finally decided what it is you want to do?  Great   !Once you determine what it is you want to concentrate your efforts on, you can move forward quickly in that direction, with determination, clarity, and elation.  Wonderful!

But then what? Our culture seems to encourage your drowning yourself in this one purpose, rewarding your for doing it to the exclusion of everything else in your life. What  often happens then  is a neglect of other areas of your life.

Without really meaning to you Inadvertently fall into neglecting other things in your life that could bring you joy and balance.

Life is like a fine soup  and  needs, of necessity, to be a mixture of different ingredients, different flavours, different intensities, different streams of life-force.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ( among other things).

So you often hear  how this over-zealous one-mindedness can take over one’s life   and you end up losing what you said you loved the most.   We hear stories of the hard working executive, totally dedicated to his work, leaving aside family concerns, letting someone else deal with those – till one day he wakes up to an empty house to find  that he has no family left to come home to.  What you ignore tends to ignore you. What you pay attention to, tends to stay around.

it’s becoming more and more recognized that everyone needs to have a balance in their lives. And that yes, it’s really not enough to be totally dedicated to your work, You also need to spend quality time with your family, you also need to develop  other interests, as well as be involved in community affairs.

I saw a man recently in a Tai Chi class I took, Of retirement age he’d spent his whole life hunched over a computer such that he couldn’t, literally, straighten out his back and his balance was way off.  A little late to come to the realization that the amount of time he’d spent that way was way overdone – compared to all the other things that life has to offer.   Let’s diversify!

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… more co-dependence

… more co-dependence

My own story of co-dependence is one I can only report in hindsight. As with any child, your life is just your life and your family is just your family. No comparison is possible when you’re very young. But two incidents regarding emotions stand out for me. As a young teenager I remember having to “vent” big time. In some social group that I was part of I untypically blubbered all over who was available at the time, I can’t remember over what. Unembarrassed, letting it all hang out! Certainly not how I was trained to be!– remarking to myself that this had never happened before. Another incident I recall was in my early 20’s was a temper tantrum I had at my house over something my brother had done. I remember clearly how it was received – my parents were truly aghast – no one at our house ever ever raised their voice about anything, much less had a raging melt-down. No wonder my strongest memory regarding emotions was of me walking along the street near my house and chanting to myself: “you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel anything!”

What these incidents tell me now is how little emotions were valued or allowed. One felt them, perhaps, quietly by oneself when you allowed yourself to feel, but mostly they were just background, unacknowledged, somewhere way behind you, nothing important, nothing meaningful.

When you take that attitude and put it up against the latest research in emotional intelligence or EQ, there seems to a shocking disconnect between what I and many of us were taught as children, and what actually runs our lives. Emotions? Not important? They say most of our purchases are based not on rational decisions but on emotion. Surprise! Our reactions to people – we decide in the first few seconds on meeting someone, what we think of them, on rational thinking? No! on our emotional reactions! They say to understand a person best you need to know their EQ much more than their IQ!

As a recovering co-dependent, I believe them.

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The violence of co-dependence

The violence of co-dependence
In his book Lost in the Shuffle by Robert Sully he makes the point that co-dependence has taken on a new face. From the narrow original definition of one lost in an addictive relationship, doing what one needs to do to make the dysfunctional relationship work, to the much broader definition that probably includes most of the human race. By this newer more encompassing definition we see included any dysfunctional family rules that prove counterproductive in the long term: e.g. the implicit rule not to express emotions, any emotions; the rule to not talk about family difficulties to anyone; the rule that says we smile and tell people “everything’s fine” no matter how much we’re hurting or what we’ve just been through, among many others.
This reminds me of the ending of the book “Code to Joy” where the author bluntly tells us, after reams and reams of lists of family problems and wrong messages that children walk away with into adulthood, he says: wouldn’t it be wonderful if could all raise our children with positive healthy messages that will actually serve them to grow and prosper: like, encouraging them to find what they like to do and encouraging them; brushing over mistakes, underlining achievements, loving them unconditionally, accepting wherever they are, etc.
Otherwise we end up like the co-dependents in Sully’s book or the wide range of ailments addressed in Code to Joy, with messages that we need to at some point address and change, if we want to heal.
I recently took a hypnotherapy program, part of which was to write a paper on your own co-dependent story. I found that a little puzzling as a general assignment until I started looking into the co-dependent literature and found how all-encompassing this category is and how we’re virtually all affected by the dysfunctional rules we grew up with. To think otherwise would be to assert that I alone among all my friends, grew up with perfect parents. I wish!

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The low level violence of accepting given wisdom as final

The low level violence of accepting given wisdom as final

“Faith of our Fathers, living faith….we will be true to you till death.” Pretty sad, I’d say.
It starts off well enough: you’re young, you’re learning the ropes, and you learn from the best. Great! You have a wonderful teacher who tells you “Do it this way, this is how it is!” And you learn, you absorb, you integrate the new information, and you benefit and you grow. You accept it. It’s Gospel. It’s eternal truth.

Then fast forward 50 more years, and you’re nearing the end of your life and you’re still spouting the same items of faith in the same way, telling everyone, that’s just the way it is. What’s being overlooked is the fact that you’re not a stagnant robot – but an organic organism that thrives on being fed new water. Unless you’re able to constantly or even occasionally reach for that new apple on the tree of life, you stop growing, you no longer thrive. The old food you were given no longer suffices to sustain you much less grow you. As a matter of fact if you keep with the same food you had in your youth, the chances are you’re starving yourself spiritually, and impeding your progress.

There’s a tale from the Buddhist literature, which goes: There was a monk who was traveling from one town to another quite a distance away. On the way he had to cross a huge raging river. In order to get across he built a very sturdy raft and got across well. Then because he was so grateful to the raft he put the raft on his back and continued on his journey heading up into the mountains, encumbered the rest of the way by this huge weight he carried and carried and carried. The moral of the story is: Use what you need to for your journey, but then after a certain point, it’s time to put it aside so you can progress properly on your way and continue to grow as your inner life demands.
To let the soul grow. That’s the most important. Let it grow.

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Accepting Prostitution is a low level violence

Accepting Prostitution is a low level violence

Prostitution was recently in the news as the government was deciding on how to frame a new law in this matter, as the old law had been deemed to be unconstitutional. Legislators were leaning towards the “legalize it” option. In her commentary on the situation in the Toronto Star, Margaret Wente made the point that from reviewing the legislative history of the problem in different countries, it was obvious that legalizing prostitution simply didn’t work. Sweden being a case in point. In Sweden, when prostitution was legalized the situation, instead of getting better, got worse. So in 1999 the Swedes did the opposite, they came down hard on the exploiters, and set up many options for the victims to be able to change professions. “The results are persuasive. Street prostitution has been cut in half. Crime and organized trafficking are down.”

Prostitution harms us all. It harms society, it degrades women, it enables crime. It’s a form of slavery where your body is up for sale. Are some prostitutes happy? Possibly. But is this a direction we want humankind to move in? Probably not. Wente mentions the Native Women’s Assoc. of Canada, who work with the worst off women. They don’t support legalizing. Neither should we.

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Nagging as low level violence

Nagging as low level violence

I spent a recent weekend at the cottage with 2 women and a small delightful child of three. Good company, fun times, but there was one thing that bothered me greatly. The two adults around this feisty little girl were constantly trying to correct her, direct her, organize her, do for her – in other words nagging her to abstraction. I tried to picture an adult in the child’s position. Say an elderly person who  had a caregiver beside them at all times. Now some things the elderly person can do for themselves, some they can’t and some things might be downright dangerous to do. But really how would you like it to have someone beside you day and night commenting on what you’re doing, giving you advice, warning you of dangers. No matter how well intentioned, this is still an overwhelming amount of attention. The constant chatter can be downright overwhelming.

What I noticed too was that much of the talking that was done “at” the child, was unconscious. It was so constant that I could only conclude that whatever popped into the caregivers head, she spit out right away, without giving it much thought. Normally when with another adult, we don’t allow ourselves such a luxury, to actually speak everything we’re thinking. That could get downright offensive. And it was. Because much of the chatter was also negative comments on what she child should be doing different. They’d be “shoulding” all over her at an overwhelming rate.

We all bought an ice-cream. For some reason the mother thought it appropriate to  let her choose her own flavour and have her own ice-cream – they had no kiddie cones here, so this was a regular size ice-cream exactly like all the adults around her. Now this is three-year-old, the ice-cream cone was almost as big as she was. OK, so she felt good about making her own decision here. But she paid dearly for that little luxury of choosing her flavour and cone. After that it was all downhill because for the next 20 minutes she was regaled with a constant barrage of instructions and reprimands and warnings as to how not to eat, how to eat, what could happen if the cone got upended, what could happen if she let it drip. What the exercise did was satisfy the mother that she’d allowed the kid her own choice, in the mean- time punishing her for making that choice. It was sad to see, tiresome and anything but enjoyable.

What would have been better would be to do some thinking ahead of time, as to what the child is capable of and to offer her experiences that lead to success as much as possible. What I would have done and what I did with my grandchildren, is to buy only one ice-cream and share it. And gradually give them practice in holding it up straight, in licking from the bottom and all the niceties of ice-cream eating, which is actually not a simple task.

No wonder our children end up with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, because they’re being constantly criticized.  That’s how the parents were raised and unless they stop and examine the pattern they were raised with, that’s the pattern they repeat. As they say those who don’t know their history and doomed to repeat it.

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