Behavior

I intended this as a 4 part series, to be read in sequence. That plan failed. Here’s the solution to a very small problem that no one knew they had.

This is a story about a being a naive, selfish asshole who learns to love…badly at first, through several icky flavors of codependency, before finally seeing the truth of loving and being loved. This is a big read and I wouldn’t expect anyone to tackle it unless they felt a need to. The pictures are linked.

Naked 1: Base Camp

“I’m being transparent here about my many failures because you can only recognize something you’re acquainted with. The only way to tell this truth is naked and the only way to understand it is naked. The only way to use this truth is without shame and without defensive denials. When you fight it, it loses the power to free you. That’s why I’m being transparent here, to provide a “no fucks given” example.”

Naked 2: The Rise and Fall of Lizard Boy

“…I didn’t understand that being loved can’t fix the belief that you don’t deserve love. It just makes you uncomfortable. If you meet your ideal love and you can’t accept what they are offering, that’s a tragedy, not a dream come true. Find the antidote, heal the wound, then seek love.”

Naked 3: Wasting Everyone’s Time

“Most people who avoid and destroy intimacy in these stupid ways aren’t awful, mostly they are trying and failing. For every narcissist there a thousand inept, self-sabotaging, frightened seekers. This behavioral mess is just what it looks like when people seek joy but neither believe in joy nor experience it. It’s Sisyphus going up the hill with candy and flowers.”

Naked 4: Wake The Fuck Up!

“…From inside, co-dependency seems like a titanic battle of wills between two unique individuals, starkly silhouetted against an angry red sunset. From the outside, it’s just a couple of numbskulls trapped in a machine and too stupid to leave. It’s the Three Stooges slapping each other on an infinite loop.”

 

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

A little context: I’m not mindlessly arguing for relentless, hurried personal change for everyone. That sounds awful. This is a naggy but loving pep talk for people feeling very stuck.

Life is Trouble

Life is a constant struggle between us and any random shit, little or big, that crops up. Some of these struggles are life choices though they don’t seem weighty at that moment. Moments and small choices can be deceptively deep. A metaphorical Sphinx is checking in with you like: “Love or No Love? Past or Future? Fear or Hope?” hundreds of times a day.

The results are navigational data points along your personal trajectory. The important question isn’t what you chose but why you chose it.  Does it point up, down, back, or forward? If you win a fight to stay the same, you learn nothing new and win nothing except a temporary extension of the status quo. But the status quo will inexorably roll forward into change like an unmoored parade float. The change will come but guided by who? With what goal? Maybe we’re just taking our hands off the steering wheel.

In the context of your life struggle, rationalizing standing still is a choice to remain in the shitty room temperature shallows of life where it’s comfortable enough. This is the inertia of the weary, defensive human heart and we know perfectly well that our cover story for this kind of choice is masking something like “I’m rudderless and utterly flat inside”.

Everything better seems too high UP to reach from here. As enthusiastic as we may sound talking about a life choice, we’re often staging an official personal PR release simply to cover the truth: “I’m afraid and this was the least scary option”. Rationalizing downward is choosing to become a slightly worse and smaller version of yourself, moving forward. Slightly worse because you stopped hoping, slightly less because you’ve given up trying. You without hope or determination is you on a slippery slope.

We downward rationalize every day. Sometimes it’s healthy: Holding steady and keeping things together or maybe NOT accepting some exciting risk because it’s dumb and dangerous. More often it means incrementally settling for less and offering less. It gradually lets the air out of the bouncy castles of human hope. If you lack hope you may well conclude that this, this right here, this stupid mess, is as good as it gets, at least for you, then sigh and return to polishing the turd at the center of the problem. Continue reading

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

Last time on Naked: Lizard boy began his quest to find love without fixing his broken heart first.

Because I didn’t know I needed to work, I didn’t do the work that needed to be done. And so I passed through the lives of many wonderful women: confusing, annoying and confounding them as I walked confidently in two different directions. Continue reading

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I don’t believe Chakras are the literal mystical energy centers believed in by new age people. I also don’t believe they are the nonsensical-fantasy-things-that-don’t-really-exist, as believed by nearly everyone else.

Chakras are symbolic foci for real aspects of our selves, our sub-selves, the parts of your overall whole being. They are defined as 7 modular aspects of self that come on-line by stages as we grow and experience life. They absolutely can be blocked and out of balance, under or overactive. Below is the traditional list though it can vary a bit, they work upward from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head and each is associated with specific areas of our lives, feelings, and personalities. They are distinct color-coded points on the spectrum. But ultimately their functions blend into a healthy, unified self.

  1. Root – Base of the spine; red; governs survival instincts, grounding.
  2. Sacral — Lower abdomen; orange; governs sexuality, intuition, self-worth/-esteem.
  3. Solar Plexus — Upper abdomen; yellow; governs impulse control, ego.
  4. Heart — Center of the chest; green; governs compassion, spirituality.
  5. Throat — Throat; blue; governs communication, emotion.
  6. Third Eye — Between the eyes; purple; governs rationality, wisdom, imagination.
  7. Crown — Top of the head; indigo; governs connection with the Divine

The Chakras rather neatly mirror Abraham Maslow’s almost universally accepted hierarchy of needs. Notice how the artist used defining colors for different levels.

Compare the Hierarchy of Needs:

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety needs
  3. Social belonging
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization
  6. Transcendence

(There are somewhat alternative versions as well.) If a sub-self is broken at the physical safety level, of the self-confidence level, for example, self-actualization is blocked. The person experiences various psychological symptoms expressing the fears and frustrations of lack and instability in those areas of life. The chakras and the H of N chop up the human pieces a little differently and each one tilts a bit toward the surrounding belief system that hatched it. Still, it is the same invention, spontaneously cropping up to fill the same need for vastly different communities.

The invention is a simple map of the human soul and what it needs to thrive. It describes the places we can break down and suggests a course of treatment.

The Chakras and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also dovetail nicely with Carl Jung’s Individuation, the challenging synthesis of becoming a complete, integrated person.

I’ll be writing here soon about some original and creative ways I’ve recently found to work with this material but I think this overall idea is interesting enough to consider on its own.

 

 

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

Long ago, my love was smugly avoidant and entitled. I was an arrogant little sexual aristocrat totally certain of my hotness. I wanted “love” but I only understood it as desire, satiation, and friendship. I was unaware of any lack of perception in myself and felt that mostly, I was always right about everything. Getting whatever I wanted seemed like the universe functioning correctly. I was as contentedly self-involved and selfish as a cat and almost as innocent and guileless about it. I didn’t lie about who I was or sneak around, I legitimately believed I was a special exemption. For a certain period of time, the world seemed to agree.

All the men in my family are on the ADHD/ASD axis and we all begin life with an emotional astigmatism about the meaning and value of other people’s feelings. We aren’t narcissists who don’t care, we are shortsighted moles who don’t notice it. We lack emotional depth perception. It has to be shaken into us.

This is not an excuse, just background. I’m no less culpable for this impediment, just likelier to fail.

I asked relatively little of love and received far more than that in return. At this superficial level, I was loveable and did deserve it because I was handsome, sexy, smart and funny. I was of high value in a low-value economy. Love at this level is better written as “love” and better understood as a consumable experience like cocaine or a carnival ride. If it was a planet, the gravity would be low and bouncy. We would only have first names.

When my first marriage (11 years of the “selfish innocent” phase) failed, the concept of deeper and truer love formed in me and my soul walked in that direction as if it smelled food cooking. I entered a different economy of love where the person I really am was small change. I could be high value again if all I wanted was a thrill, but down here everything cost more and demanded more true value, more purity of essence. This was the only coin accepted for anything worthwhile. True value meant possessing the ability to love with natural reciprocity, belief in a bright future, alone or together, and honest faithfulness. Continue reading

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“We are so convinced that past evils must repeat themselves that we make them repeat themselves. We dare not risk a new life in which the evils of the past are totally forgotten; a new life seems to imply new evils, and we would rather face evils that are already familiar… Hence we cling to the evil that has already become ours, and renew it from day-to-day, until we become identified with it and change is no longer thinkable.”

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Introduction

This is the first of a short series about happiness, freedom, and love that I feel the need to share, having recently heard about them for the first time. If any of this ever seems like a gloomy confession for the sake of confessing, it isn’t. I’ve had crazy wonderful breakthroughs since ~April of 2019. I’m happy and hopeful in a way that isn’t much like previous me. I’m cheery, for god’s sake.

What allowed me to become so much happier, was persevering in the worst godawful codependent bs relationship ever…with such intensity…that I broke through to something I find rather hard to explain. The over the top pain and longing of it tore open a membrane between me and a completely new level of spiritual perception and energy. Since then, it has quietly and consistently transformed my life.

This new perspective isn’t wisdom gleaned forensically from the crash site of that bad relationship. I’m not “Sadder but wiser” and I haven’t gathered a basket of bitterness and resentment but rather trapped them between a cup and some cardboard and then released them into the yard.

This unexpected introduction to spirit was like elevator doors opening on a floor with a number you’ve never heard of and it’s so nice here that you are a better person for even knowing about it. There’s a mysterious sweetness to be followed, and you follow it. There’s no dogma or cliches attached, it is fresh original territory. This is what it is like: Perhaps somehow you have believed in NO your whole life. Suddenly, irrefutably, YES.

Continue reading

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in European countries per 100.000 inhabitants (2016). (Phone users the info-graphic is at the bottom, in case it’s hard to see on your phone, the male numbers are to the left and females on the right.) I knew male suicide rates were higher but I had no idea the difference was this stark. The male suicide rate is at least double and often triple the female rate. In Russia, it’s 6X higher! We live in an absurd time where every opinion that could POSSIBLY have a political ax to grind is assumed to have one.

I want to turn that assumption around and ask questions:

  1. Why do I feel vaguely self-conscious and a need to clarify my motives when posting this? Is showing concern specifically for men seen as rejecting concerns about women? Has discussion of male-female issues grown to resemble the charged atmosphere surrounding discussion of Israel? I refer to the fear of being called anti-semitic that comes with any criticism of Israeli policy or show of concern for Palestinians. If so, how have relations between the sexes sunk low enough to mirror the most vicious and entrenched argument in the world?
  2. In general, why isn’t the cause of this situation (male suicide numbers) a bigger, more pressing public health question? If the numbers were reversed do you think would there be a higher level of concern and more discussion about what is happening to girls and women?

But outside of politics or any kind of moralizing, just pondering the composition of the human race, I think one of the most revealing questions we could ask  to understand our species is simply:

Why is this so? 

 

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I’m discussing the idea of control. For example, controlling ourselves, our social scene, romantic life, work issues and money.

There are several common variations of what we call Control. They differ sharply in meaning though each is intended for the same use. When we use the word Control about our lives it resembles one of these descriptions:

Dynamic or Responsive Control: The healthiest and happiest, also the least like the conventional meaning of control. This is a person who responds to life’s problems like a good tennis player responds to the match: Her moves are alert, timely, and proportional. She handles each problem as well as she can and doesn’t get distracted by grief over missing one or waste energy chasing a ball she could never catch.  This person has confidence in themselves and knows that spontaneously handling everything as it comes to you is the only way to win. This style accepts incoming serves without protest as the core of the game, in other words as a basic truth about life.

The negative alternative is Anxious Control: There are several substyles to the spectrum of Anxious Control:

  1. Tense-Jumpy-Irritable Anxious Control – This style is stressed out just under the surface at all times. Problems scare them into hypervigilance and this generates “false positive” problems. Sadly this means they experience way more problems than people who aren’t on such high alert.  Their moves are nervously alert, premature, and disproportionate on the “too big” side. They lack confidence in themselves and each problem costs them deeper emotional stress than necessary. Their response to incoming serves is bitter/resentful. “I knew it!” Oddly, they don’t put much focus on improving life in ways would generate fewer problems.
  2. Big Picture Prudence Anxious Control – The main difference between this one and the previous is time and space. BPP takes the long and global view of potential trouble. It embraces systems of avoiding and minimizing problems.  None of that is pathological in itself, it shows good sense if it is in balance. The negative imbalance appears when fear and dread are the motivators and try to control EVERYTHING. Their moves are suspiciously alert, their timing is preemptive, and they are disproportionately risk-averse. There is a fundamentally negative world view with a dislike/distrust of anything that they cannot control. At the extreme end, this style avoids love, growth, and change. Their response to incoming serves is to manage them remotely or avoid them entirely.
  3. Helpless, Fatalistic Anxious Control – Utterly lacking confidence in themselves this style expects failure and allows it to happen through passivity and by telling themselves it doesn’t matter anyway. They grieve over their weakness but can’t find any way to address it. They avoid many problems by not trying or risking. They don’t bet on themselves. This approach can be global or limited/specialized to areas like love or work. Some, for example, might be highly accomplished in their career and helpless/fatalistic toward ever being loved. Their approach to incoming serves is wistful and sad as they passively let them go by. More rarely they take a feeble swing fully expecting failure.

Continue reading

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There is a behavior within a distinct subset of Seattle drivers that causes a range of negative results from small nuisances to life-threatening. I’m referring to politeness. Actually, that isn’t right. Politeness is simple, lovely, correct. Politeness is the Tao of social interaction.

The problem behavior is Meta-Politeness, a self-conscious attempt to be witnessed personifying politeness.  I believe it may be normal politeness tainted by the social media status update. We now include little unnecessary flourishes with our politeness in hopes of getting a “like”.

The tiny nuisance level is usually something like a driver expressing their profound open-mindedness that perhaps, evidence to the contrary, it isn’t their turn at the 4-way stop.

“Are you sure? It’s ok? Really?”

If this was as bad as it got, I would scarcely even notice, let alone ruminate over it…let even more alone write about it!

Here’s the real problem situation:

I’ve directly experienced this many times. Continue reading

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