I have let my blog lie idle for a couple of years, but now it’s time to pick it up again. There are just too many questions that need to be answered and ideas that need exploring! So, here we go!
“Why is all this happening?” I friend of mine asked this the other day. In her case, the whole virus thing had thrown a serious monkey wrench in her life, derailing important plans for an unknown period of time.
Don’t we all get that from time to time? Stuff happens, or doesn’t happen, and we wonder why. I have tussled with this one for years, but I have come to terms with it. Through study and a series of personal transformative experiences (PTEs), I now feel I get what is going on, and what I can do to create the best life I can. I’m going to tell my story and you are free to interpret and apply these lessons to your life, or not, as you see fit.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is that I have created my own life. I know this is hard to accept, for lots of practical and philosophical reasons, so I’m going to steer clear of some of the thornier issues, by confessing that I was born and raised a white, middle-class, male, baby-boomer, with all the advantages that entails, so this isn’t about triumphing over extreme economic, or other, circumstances. It’s more a tail of how a “normal” person from a “normal” background, with no diagnosable mental or emotional issues, can, nonetheless, be “programed” to live a self-destructive life.
When I said I created my life, I didn’t mean it in the Tony Robbins kind of way, but in sneaky, insidious kind of way that I was completely invisible to me, and I only became aware of, slowly, over the years. I was perfectly aware of what I was supposed to do to have a happy, successful life, but I had no understanding of why I could not seem to do it. What I eventually realized is that I already knew how to create the life I wanted, and was doing it every day. The problem was that there is a huge gap between what I consciously expected and what I unconsciously believed I was capable of and deserved. The truth is my beliefs were running the show and creating my life, while my thoughts, reason and logic have very little to do with it. At best, my intentions can make temporary deviations from the path my beliefs know is correct and inevitable.
There’s nothing really mystical or earth-shattering here, philosophers, mentors, advisers and coaches have known this for…a very long time: We all will naturally create the life we believe we should have. And the reason my life had its issues and its reoccurring, dysfunctional, patterns, is because those patterns were part of a default belief set sitting in my unconscious. And my mind, through and automatic process, uses this unconscious belief set to create my life, day in, day out.
How does this all work? In my case, I began to notice that I have certain feelings, about people, places, and situations. Some I am comfortable with, some not. Some people I like, some not, some I respect and look up to, some I look down on. Some make me uncomfortable or even scare me. These feelings tell me who to trust, who to date, who turns me on, and who to distrust. These feelings decide who I will associate with, what kinds of jobs I can do, and what kinds of places I can work in.
And it isn’t just me, we all do this. When I went in for a job interview, for instance, I would give off the kind of vibe that a bullying, low-self-esteem, manager would feel comfortable with, and that’s the kind of places I would end up working. I would seek out people with low self-worth to hang with and seek approval from stronger personalities, allowing myself to be manipulated in the process. In my love life, I would attach to people like my mother, emotionally unavailable, manipulative, and insecure, with addictive personalities. So, put all this together and you can see that I would have a life where I was devalued, manipulated, taken advantage of by low-esteem friends, lovers and co-workers. Nothing I ever did was “good enough,” and any praise I did get didn’t matter, because they “didn’t mean it,” or “were just being nice.” If anyone seemed to like me, I would not trust it, because they “must be up to something.” Or I would take advantage, insisting on endless approval, until they got fed up and left, thereby proving that “they never really liked me after all.”
Wow! I kinda went down the rabbit hole on that one! But I think this is important, because all of this seemed completely normal to me, and anyone that seemed to have a different kind of life must be delusional or lying. I was just self-aware enough to notice that something wasn’t right, making me sad and angry, but I had no idea what to do about it. Or that anything could be done about it. That’s just the way the world was. This is an example of how a belief system not only creates the world you live in, but it also builds a wall around it that prevents you from seeing anything better.
There you have it: I have a system of beliefs, largely unconscious, and everything I hear, see and read, everything I experience, is filtered, modified, accepted and rejected, through those beliefs, and my actions are entirely consistent with those beliefs being absolutely true. And I soundly reject anything that challenges them.
Sound like a cult? Sound like our political discourse? Bingo! One last thing, I say “have beliefs” because I am still controlled by my beliefs, there is no escaping this mechanism. The trick is to uncover, and if you’re really good, rewrite your beliefs, and that, almost magically, will give you the results you want. (There’s nothing really new here, this information is easy to find online. If you want to know more, this book and site is a good place to start: Mind Hacking Happiness.)
Sound good? How many of you, dear readers, noticed the solid-gold catch-22 that makes this so dammed difficult? I’ll come back to that later.
Let me show you a recent example from my own life. This is an issue I’m having with a woman I dated, briefly, over a year ago. I’ve been divorced for about five years, and have dated…a little. This story will sound familiar to a lot of people: I met this woman at an event, we seemed to get on and dated for a couple of weeks, then, one night, she seemed to have a depressive breakdown, and I saw, clearly, that she was trying to isolate me from my friends. She laid down conditions I had to agree to, if we were to stay together. I said “no,” “goodbye” and left. I next had to block her number to stop the unwanted drunk texts and phone calls. To this day, she still shows up at events, approaches me and tries to get back together.
I know some people will read this and be thinking that I should talk to her, reason with her, gently make her understand my position and it would all work out. To that I say, with respect: You’ve been brainwashed. Narcissists use these tired old tropes to manipulate and victimize their targets. I know this first-hand because I lived with my mother. I know all the tricks, and I was not going to be used, again. But, the question is, why did I allow myself to get into that situation in the first place? Why didn’t I see this coming a mile away? The reasons are manifold, and mind-blowing when I consider what they mean about every person I meet.
More in the next post.
As always, comments and respectful discussions are welcome, but trolls will be ignored.