Recent discussions have triggered some serious emotions, and I wanted to address that. From one reader who felt “blamed” for a catastrophically failed relationship, to another who had lost all contact with the desire to improve life, the concept that we MUST take responsibility for our lives is inextricably linked to loving ourselves deeply: it is the path to connecting to our survival drives. Once you do that, you have all the energy you need, and in fact will have to learn to “dial it down” or you’ll burn out.
Yoga and meditation are your friend.
How do we learn to love ourselves, and find love, if we aren’t raised in loving homes? It can be hard. A reader said:
- “Thank you for posting this. We don’t have a choice of our core models especially as children..Male or female.. A lot gets jacked in this time period..The first step you wrote Is key. Loving ourselves ♥️ Nothing is really right until we can do that. The rest comes after..”
Why won’t people leave retired assassins alone? What is this suicidal urge to poke the bear? I mean…haven’t any of them seen “John Wick”? Jeeze. Anyway, Mads Mikkelsen goes Wick in Netflix’s “Polar”, a film with absolutely no surprises, but is still a fairly sturdy entertainment if you’re into ultra-violence. And frankly, I won’t lie, there are moods in which nothing else will do.
So the basic story is you have a professional assassin who is just trying to forget his former life. People come after him, in this case because they don’t want to pay his retirement benefits (none of them considering that they themselves will get the same treatment, of course), and along the way he meets a Gurl Who Must Be Protected, and becomes that most lethal of adversaries: a cold-blooded killer with a heart.
If you can’t predict the rest of the beats, you haven’t been paying attention. And it’s “Punisher” level violence, so be warned.
This pattern works: a burned out hulk of a human being finds a young girl to protect, and finds his heart. Variations on this can be found in “Leon The Professional”, “The Long Kiss Good-Night”, “Zato Ichi” movies and well…everywhere.
The notion is that we seek love, and will connect to (uncorrupted) others if we cannot find it in ourselves. Young women of child-bearing age are generally the most precious members of society, with pre-pubescent girls and boys next, and a special category of actual infants as the “you must never allow them to be harmed” class, such that running gun battles in John Woo movies will stop to save them. Quite amusingly.
Even hardened killers will throw away their own lives to connect to one of these pure sources. And…that’s probably a good thing. Symbolically, call it NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CONNECTING TO YOUR HEART. Do this, and you own yourself. And if this connection is broken, if you DON’T love yourself…
You are vulnerable to manipulation on a massive level. When this happens to individuals, you have the potential for abusive relationships, where your identity depends upon the approval of a monster. We will doubt our own perceptions (“Gaslighting”) accept any level of pain, allow them to define us and degrade us, just for those moments in which they smile upon us with approval.
Show me someone who doesn’t love herself, and I’ll show you someone who will attract predators like chum attracts sharks. Some of these humans develop heavy emotional armor, acting “tough” or even minimalizing their secondary sexual characteristics, so that they don’t trigger an attractive response. Unfortunately, it seems that the notion that these behaviors will attract good hearts who will patiently help the “seed of love” within to blossom is a mostly a fantasy. More often, they seem to attract thieves and ghouls who will sledge-hammer, seduce, or lock-pick their way in, and as soon as you expose yourself, sharpen their knives.
This works culturally as well. What in the world do you think the reward, the motivation is to promote a fantasy that a dominated group loves YOUR children more than they love their own (“Mammy” images)? That they will happily die to protect and serve you (“The Green Mile”)? Why, you not only get to justify your abuse of them (“They are natural slaves.”) but you can actually program THEM to think you are more beautiful and sacred. The “Separate but Equal” laws fell in part when it was demonstrated that black children thought white dolls were prettier than black dolls. And some of you reading these words, white and black, are quietly thinking “well, they are…”
Yeah, I know you’re there.
Thank God court was honest enough to grasp the damage, deep and distorting, and “Separate but Equal” fell.
Lets tear apart the version of this in your own heart, shall we?
Whether as a group or as individuals, the damage done by an abuser or a society convincing you that you are not lovable and worthy of love makes you easy to brainwash, abuse, control. You will settle for crumbs at a banquet, the “please sir, I want some more” life.
Note that there is a bit of this tendency in many religions and cultures. And while the negative aspect of it should be clear by now, it is important to note that SOME of this hammering down of individual or group ego is inevitable and desirable. A social structure is like an animal body: the individual cells have to subsume individual identity in the group, or a mouse falls apart into a billion amoebas. A village has to stand together as one if they are going to fight off the Huns. In a marriage, you DO have to care more about the family than you care about your individual needs, or it cannot work.
But…this is where “the tragedy of the commons” creeps in. In this thought experiment, you have a village which agrees to sharing a (common) resource equally, and everyone votes to do this. But some creep out at midnight and steal an extra share. So during the day, the notion of equality and fraternity is promoted by the very people who do the most creeping at night.
Applied to societies it is the notion of “we are all in this together” promoted by the very people skimming off the cream. In relationships, if your partner can get you to believe that they are the source of love in your life, the BEST that relationship can be is co-dependent: two people who each feel that the other is the source of good.
They can adore each other, lean on each other, and limp through life. And frankly? That ain’t bad.
But it should be clear that if that is uneven, the relationship is toxic. Worse, you can CREATE a toxic relationship by demanding that the other person be the source of your good. The “I am nothing, you are everything” is a TRAP because no one can live up to it. If they put you on a pedestal you WILL fall off. Then they get to hate you.
A healthy relationship is two autonomous adults who are self-contained, but can reach out to each other to become more than they are as individuals. A team.
The healthiest society would be made up of autonomous adults who can come together to achieve things they cannot do as individuals, but are also perfectly capable of standing alone. I’m not sure such a thing has ever existed. Certainly the society is not going to encourage you to feel so free that you become an amoeba and forget the group good. That is called “death” and NO ONE is going to encourage that.
Parents can create such dependence that weak or damaged children cannot achieve escape velocity. If “enlightenment” exists, and there are paths to it that are efficient and effective, it is notable that there IS NO RELIGION that offers this path directly. IMO Buddhism does a fine job of offering it indirectly, but as one wag said, it is a bait-and-switch: “they get you in the door with enlightenment, then steer you to the compassion aisle.”
I love that. They are careful to create a good, loving citizen before the open the door to amoeba-hood. ’Cause real freedom, real courage, real “owning yourself” puts you beyond guilt, blame, or shame. You cannot motivate such people with disapproval. Their values have to be INTEGRAL to their being, not something imposed from the outside. This is a deep subject, but the mundane version of it is in the “open your hand. If the bird comes back, it is yours. If it flies away, it never was.” A healthy adult WANTS their partner to be totally independent. If Tananarive decides there is something better for her, I’d WANT her to go for it. I ONLY want her to be with me if she believes I’m best for her. That’s it. She gets one lifetime, and if I love her, I want her to enjoy that life to the full.
All of this comes back to the First Principle of the five steps designed to transform society, “Love yourself”. To connect with that core of love and survival energy within you. This works for people trying to transform the world. For individuals engaged in creative or martial pursuits, and for relationships. Start with love. It heals and transforms.
The later steps: loving another person, understanding and forgiving human nature, avoiding trolls, and winning with integrity…none of them make sense if you don’t start with self love.
What? Forgive my abuser?
What? Not hate those who harmed me?
What? Show mercy when I have advantage?
If you don’t love yourself, the difference between “responsibility” (response-ability) and “blame” is nil. If you hear that you have to take RESPONSIBILITY for your life, you hear the voices of people who wanted you to accept blame and guilt. How do you know the difference?
Responsibility is empowering. You feel STRONGER.
Guilt, blame, and shame are DIS-empowering. You feel confused, divided and WEAKER.
The difference is knowing the center of your being. Connecting with the pure love within you. The “Ancient Child” meditation simply uses the symbol of infancy as a time of purity, ties into the circuitry that has protected helpless infants since…forever.
Films that tap into deep emotion often do similar things: the deadly burned-out monster who finds his heart. The chainsaw-wielding maniac chasing “the last girl.”
(Side note: And if you think the survival of that “last girl” is sexist, you bet it is…but not the way you think. Why aren’t they chasing a “last boy”? Because we don’t care. When you have a teenaged boy being chased by the maniac, the audience will LAUGH at his injuries, mock his efforts to survive. If he can’t protect himself? He’s useless. Kill him. Entertainingly. But have that exact same maniac pursue a girl of the same age? The audience will scream “save her!” Its bizarre. But true.)
Horror, action, relationships, creativity, self-defense…connecting with the love within you is the first step to power. Damaging that connection is the first tactic of an abuser.
TAKE YOUR POWER BACK.
(The ancient child meditation is available free of charge when you are part of the test group for the NEW SOULMATE PROCESS course, starting February 16. You can snag it at: www.soulmateprocess.com. If you want to explore how art addresses the DAMAGE to this basic drive, check out the Horror Noir lectures at: www.sunkenplaceclass.com)