Emancipation From Mental Slavery

The first tune that pops into my head when I think of this title is the song from Bob Marley. He sang about the mentality that enslaved us to our captors or colonialist masters, but the emancipation I am reminded of this morning is of a different kind. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to engage with people that struggled to break the bonds of a childhood that left them with more emptiness, than it filled them with dreams. What should have been the nurturing of young souls often turns into the imposition of burdens from old souls instead. The reason it was a good fortune to engage with such troubled souls is because many of their struggles resonated with my own.

Sometimes in finding common ground, some draw on the common toxins that are shared in such a setting to emphasise the need to hold on to their own toxins that they collected through the years. Those trinkets of grief and betrayal convinces us that our worth is limited and defined by the sum total of how our nurturers treated us at times when we were supposed to be innocently adorable. I think at some deep subconscious level, the betrayals experienced during such innocent years convinces many that if they were not worth loving or embracing in that pure state, it cannot be possible to find the love or embrace that they need now that they’ve grown into a contaminated state. Unfortunately this internalised self-loathing is rarely visible to the conscious mind. Years of self-doubt erodes any sense of purpose, and purpose morphs into a desire to protect from a perceived threat that was rendered impotent the moment we achieved a state of material independence. It is one of those rare occasions when materialistic goals are critical to our survival.

Independence in our material state affords us the opportunity to break the stranglehold that unfulfilled adults had over us up to that point. Sadly though, many that achieve this state of independence would rather use those hard earned tools to exact revenge or demand remorse rather than to break the cycle and invest in a future that kills off the demons of the past. When we desire emancipation from such a dreary beginning, despite our misguided efforts to feed that cycle by convincing ourselves that making them pay is a pursuit of justice, we invite forces into our lives that will cause us to question the value of seeking such justice.

Assuming that the trials imposed on us during our innocent years were deliberate or conscious efforts by those troubled caregivers is an indulgence of our ego and nothing more. Everyone is fighting for significance, which means that everyone desires a space within which they are appreciated and understood. The fact that we lose faith in humanity to provide us with what we need is why we end up demanding such significance in selfishly destructive ways. Those troubled caregivers were no different. Without realising it, they eroded the faith of the innocents in their care through their selfishly destructive ways of demanding significance from those innocents. And that is how they fed the very same cycle that we all spurn.

Sometimes, our efforts in breaking those chains that weigh us down bears down on us to near breaking point. Incessant demands from those around us for us to be better than who we thought we were eventually breaks our resolve because our deeply held belief that we’re incapable of more because we deserve less erodes the foothold of courage that brought us to that point. I often wonder how many fail to achieve their goals because when they reached the final stretch, they saw it as the beginning of yet another struggle, rather than the end of the struggle that they set out to overcome. More dreams have been abandoned in giving up in that final stretch that demands the most of us because instead of realising that it is the culmination of a grueling effort that now demands that we finally break ties with what was holding us back, we see it as a demand to let go of what little comfort we have, and instead we recede in favour of familiarity, rather than push ahead into a new reality.

It is like navigating our way through the maze of life and finally approaching the exit, but instead of heading towards the light, we find the light threatening and instead we turn back to take comfort in the darkness because that is what our eyes have grown accustomed to. Wandering through the maze becomes a life long statement of the struggle of a life less lived, because in that maze there is no shortage of companions that view such valiant efforts to prevail in the darkness as being acts of courage and strength of the human spirit. Contending with self-imposed burdens that resonate with equally troubled souls offers more comfort and inclusion than pursuing a life of purpose that sets us apart from the crowd.

Everyone wants to be celebrated, and revered, but only a few are willing to exit that maze and embrace a new enlightened reality. It is for this reason that the bulk of human effort is spent in mastering the game rules that others have defined, rather than forging our own new path through this world. Emancipation comes when we see ourselves for who we are, and not for how others have defined us to be. It arrives without pomp and splendour, or festive celebrations. It arrives quietly in moments when we seek it, but expect it to appear in a form that we desire it to be. Emancipation is that flicker of hope that we choose to grasp when stepping back is easier. It is that light that threatens to kill the being that we fought to protect all our lives, while demanding that we embrace vulnerability with the promise of growth and inspiration.

Emancipation is achieved when we see more value in what we desire than the value that the familiarity of the past offers instead. Courage is therefore the sibling of cowardliness, because both appear to be valiant efforts of a brave soul, but the former is an obstinate challenge to complacency, while the latter embellishes fear with loud statements of rebellion.

The Psychosomatic Life 

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This piece of wood from the fireplace in my lounge reminds me of how we allow ourselves to disintegrate while feeling appreciated for the beauty that we share with the world in our falling.

There is a consistent thread that runs through the seemingly downtrodden of society. It’s a thread that rallies the masses and enables political agendas. It creates causes that people subscribe to with aggressive conviction and sets wisdom and reason aside in favour of the ridiculousness of the herd mentality.

The thread is a belief that the state of our lives and our health is imposed on us by an unjust society. It’s a belief that dis-ease is a result of human beings that rob us of comfort and peace, while turmoil and suffering is independent of the choices we make. In short, it is a thread that believes that the self-imposed oppression that we visit upon ourselves is in fact not our doing. It must be because we are the weak ones being taken advantage of by the stronger ones. Or the unlucky draw of genetic inheritance visited upon us at birth.

It is a toxic mindset that sets us down the path of pain and disappointment, until we do it so often that we eventually become convinced that being anything better is just not meant for us. And then we go off and convince others that we find in a similar circumstance that perhaps it just was not meant to be.

For those of us raised with the belief that our mistakes are not our accountability because we’re just human after all, such a reality becomes the story of our lives. We live symptomatically and assume that our whispers to the universe will yield the results that hard work and conviction was meant to deliver. Those that have access to resources in abundance whisper to the universe anyway, and then while expending such resources that reduce the amount of physical contribution needed, proclaim that the universe has answered.

Those that lack access to such resources smother their souls at the lack of response from the universe, and then convince themselves that their diseased minds are a manifestation of the ill health that they experience, which is a genetic inheritance they have no control over, while believing that they were destined to suffer such trials because they were born to be martyrs.

Psychosomatic is an easy way to live miserably. To feel oppressed because of conditions apparently out of your control is the best way to console yourself at your lack of action, or pathetic attempts at conviction. If only we held as much conviction in being accountable as we do for believing in our oppression, we’ll amaze ourselves at how much we can achieve with so little.

Silver spoons and trust funds are not needed to have a holistic experience of this world. Those that believe that we were created simply to suffer in order to be rewarded later on has taken a distortion of reality and turned it into religious dogma that holds no weight. When we absolve ourselves of the outcomes of the choices that we make, we indulge the futility of a fickle mind. We convince ourselves that we need a helping hand to achieve anything meaningful in life, and that such a hand will only arrive when we are divinely deserving of it.

The delusions are endless, but in spite of the delusions, as much as we convince ourselves that we have no choice in the matter, the irony is that we are choosing to be the victims of a circumstance that we create. Lifestyle diseases are not lifestyle diseases. They’re diseases of the mind, which is reflected in the lifestyle. The distracted ones, and the vast majority of us are distracted for 99% of our lives, observe the lifestyle choices and assume that it is a result of societal pressures that we need to contend with in order to cope with life in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We just as soon extract ourselves from the society in which we live, as much as we distance ourselves from the choices that we make.

It’s easier to feel burdened and receive the accompanying sympathy from similarly burdened souls, and in the process believe that such sympathy is in fact a source of strength, than it is to feel the burden and have the conviction to rise above it through whatever means we have at our disposal. But we hate failing, so sticking our flimsy necks out to take that leap of courage to own our lives is asking for too much. It’s easier to fail collectively, than to fail alone. Setting out on a path of your own demands a level of courage and conviction that is erased from your life when you live according to the whims and weaknesses of the masses.

Those that show you sympathy only ever make you feel better about where you are in life. They never prompt you towards being better than who you are. When we suspend life until our struggles and burdens are recognised, we internalise one simple fact that our bodies respond to with alarming accuracy. We tell ourselves that we are not ready to do more, to achieve more, or to live more. For this reason, our bodies that are mere vessels of expression of the will of our souls, slowly shuts down in an ungraceful manner, resulting in lifestyle diseases that are in fact lifestyle choices, because we lacked the courage to persevere without the sympathy of those around us.

[This is an incomplete thought process]

Finding Balance (Part 2)

I need to step back from my life in order to regain an objective view (if that’s possible) of whether or not I am investing my time, energy, and resources as effectively as possible. Recently I’ve been contemplating how easily distracting it is to be coping well while losing sight of the fact that in coping we end up reacting, rather than owning.

Life happens based on what we perceive as being a priority. As we invest in those priorities, be they people or material outcomes, they increase or decrease in value for us. When we find ourselves enjoying success in any of them, we invest more. If we find a sense of fulfilment or joy in them, we invest more. Eventually, we focus on the success and the outcomes and how that makes us feel, while forgetting to question whether or not the investment is still in line with our original purpose for making the investment. In other words, we end up investing in our ego as the priority, with the original objective becoming a secondary concern.

It’s this cycle that I’m weary of. I pause for brief moments at times, and sometimes I’m caused to pause by health or other events, and in that brief moment I notice how little of my life is firmly in hand. Not from a controlling perspective, but from a deliberate investment perspective. How much of what I do am I doing because it is what I intended or needed to do, versus how much of it is purely because I am responding out of obligation or habit?

Part of the challenge of surrounding yourself with people that either don’t know you as well as they need to (often through no fault of their own but because of how inaccessible certain parts of us are) is that we have less sources of objective but meaningful criticism. This is exacerbated when we find ourselves surrounded by those that are at a life stage that we may have passed, or because they respect or admire us so much that they see no fault. When this becomes the make up of our social circles, be it significant others or professional acquaintances, we risk becoming heroes in our own minds.

The balance that eludes me is that despite being significantly productive by average standards, I am nagged with thoughts that I am not achieving nearly as much as I am capable of doing. The clutter, the noise, the distractions, and even the productive moments are so loosely strung together that the thread is almost invisible. Gaining visibility of that thread that pulls it all together will allow me to determine if its my own thread, or am I just a bead on someone else’s necklace? [That’s a weird analogy but I’m going to leave it there for now].

I need my own string of pearls. Costume jewellery (or junk jewellery as I prefer to call it) is far too easy to acquire and model into designs that are sparkly in appearance but lacking in true value. I need to ensure that the design of my life is in line with my understanding of the higher purpose that I profess to serve. Living responsively pacifies the yearning for movement in life, but it does little for the need for purpose. It’s for this reason that we sometimes find ourselves swamped with responsibility and inclusion, with no shortage of social contribution or familial relations, yet feel empty or unfulfilled.

More than being appreciated, I think we each have a deeper desire for leaving a legacy. That legacy is not materialistic in nature. Materialism satisfies the ego, not the spirit. The legacy has to testify to the improvement of the quality of life of others, or else our existence remains a commodity, or entirely inconsequential. Being inconsequential tears away at souls more often than we realise. It comes disguised as lacking in influence, or waiting for love, or even hoping for specific outcomes that are beyond our realistic reach. When our will to acquire that which remains elusive eventually fades, that’s when the feelings of being inconsequential set in; followed promptly by depression, self-loathing, lack of motivation, and often self-harm (not always with a blade either).

To avoid these pitfalls, I need to take time to step back, to observe and to account for the way in which my life is being expended. I see it as a traditional scale with the weight of my contribution to others on one side, and my extraction of benefit or personal gain on the other. The former must always be heavier, but never so heavy that it bottoms out. If it bottoms out, it means that I have failed to show due appreciation for myself, and for the abilities I have to contribute towards others. It means that I’ve become a martyr rather than a champion, or a pawn rather than a participant. And if the latter is weighed down, it means that I have become self-indulgent, quite possibly seeing others with contempt, ungrateful for what I have or receive, and a liability rather than an asset to society.

The quiet moments are needed for this to re-form to a shape that is wholesome and beneficial without detracting from the reality of my life. The outcome cannot be a dreamy one. It cannot be so superficial or esoteric that it offers little to no tangible value to those around me, or me. Instead, it must be substantial enough to encourage a recalibration of those areas of my life that are excessive in nature, or investment. It must provide a semblance of solace, and a tone that harmonises, without detracting from the responsibility that I have to act under circumstances that are not of my choosing nor of my preference.

Finding that balance, in many ways, embellishes the purpose of life. In fact, without it, there can be no purpose worth pursuing.

Sincerely Dishonest

I’ve always believed that dishonesty is the worst sign of disrespect. I just wish I could dismiss it as pure dishonesty that easily. That burden of awareness can really weigh you down at times like this. Being aware of what drives others to be weak enough to be dishonest makes it nearly impossible to shun them.

The reality behind the dishonesty is that we’re weak enough to believe that the truth of us will repulse those around us, and so we create alternate realities to court the affection of others, forgetting what a dark web it spins for us. I can only imagine how dreary those quiet moments must be when we are faced with the stark contrast between our life and the life we present to others about ourselves. It can only tear away at your self-respect even more, which is the irony of it all because it was that same low self-worth, or lack of respect for your self, that drove you to create that alternate reality in the first place.

I’ve often looked at scum bags, really low life schmucks that are blatant about their immoral or underhanded behaviour without any concern for the perceptions of others. I wondered as to whether that is a reflection of confidence or a total disregard for acceptance, or perhaps it’s the total abandon of hope in receiving any such affection which makes the entire purpose of their life a protest against the wholesomeness of that which they’ve been denied.

Provide those same scum bags with a teaser of hope in being included in something larger than themselves, and withhold it the moment they edge towards it, and you’re likely to see a level of anger and bitterness that drives them to violence. Violence in such cases is the ultimate form of protest while at the same time being the deepest cry for compassion. But the risk of any such compassion being temporary or unfulfilled is so real based on the past betrayals of their lives that they are more likely to spurn it rather than embrace it, because protecting themselves from loss is better than having and losing again. Or so it seems at the time.

But I started out writing this post with a very different angle to this that played on my mind. I thought that only the most deliberate of lies must reflect disrespect, because you can’t possibly lie to someone that you claim to respect. While I believe there is truth in that, I also believe that a greater truth lies closer to the fact that it implies that your disrespect for yourself is greater than your respect for that person that you claim to respect, and when that dynamic comes into play, you’d rather sacrifice your standing with that person than reveal the ugly that swims around inside of you. Hence the lie that follows.

Our response to that determines a number of things about us, not least of which is our commitment to the one that lies. Are we invested in raising their level of self-respect more than we are in gaining our rightful respect and appreciation from them, or is our investment in our rights greater? But it’s not that simple, because at some point the investment may cause a denial of rights to others because we have a limited capacity, both emotionally and materially. So we find ourselves in murky waters feeling contaminated by the murk while also feeling undeniably attached to it. Pulling away to save ourselves spawns the burden of guilt or responsibility that goes with such a decision, while remaining tethered weighs us down because of the lack of sweetness from such an investment. Any sweetness that it may hold is on hold until our investment pays off. If ever. And it’s that gamble that gnaws away at us in the quiet moments when we don’t have the distractions of life to save us from its contemplation.

I am convinced that the liar holds more self-loathing than any loathing we may hold for them. I also think that we spurn their weakness because it can easily spawn similar weaknesses in us when we find ourselves faced with difficult choices. In those difficult moments, it’s easy to justify a dishonest response because ‘everyone’ else does it, so it is entirely understandable. But such justification only provides some peace as long as we’re convinced of its truthfulness. That’s when we choose to surrender our principles in favour of ease, or we grudgingly hold on while also denying the reality of our weakness. That creates the tension within us that drives us to seek distractions around us, eventually leading to chronic ailments of the heart and the body that robs us of our sanity and self-respect as we grow older.

My thoughts are almost entirely incoherent this morning, so this is my attempt at seeking sanity among the insane. I guess it’s also entirely possible that scum bags are not really scum after all, and that the true scum bags are the ones that betrayed their trust (probably at an early age) that resulted in their loathing for this world, and anyone that represents the warmth that they’ve been denied.

Moving on

There’s a difference between giving up and wanting to move on. Too many are shamed into staying because someone convinces them that moving on is giving up. Holding on to a bad experience, or a bad relationship is more reflective of a poor sense of self than it is of commitment. The zombies among us are those that feign loyalty while their true motivation is grounded in guilt. They’re the same ones that are bitter or angry, some passively so, but most aggressively so.

Too many people I know live their lives committed to fulfilling the expectations of others instead of being true to themselves. Not only do they lack any sincere belief in their self-worth, but they lack any faith in the natural order of the universe. No, this is not a load of hogwash about supposed secrets that teach us that the universe gives us what we ask for. If it was that simple, we’d have world peace and beggars would indeed be riding Arabian stallions. The law of cause and effect is the universal order that we lose sight of too often.

There is a fine line between making a choice out of commitment as opposed to making it out of conviction. Chances are, most that read this can barely tell the difference in their lives any longer. The more we focus on fulfilling the expectations of others, the more we convince ourselves that indeed that must be our purpose, and therefore our conviction in life. How we lie to ourselves to pacify our conscience when it nags at us asking what great purpose does our life serve. The most pacifying response is to convince ourselves that we lead a life of selfless service to others. So does a door mat.

Service to others is not sacrificing yourself, but rather sacrificing your ego to allow them to view your vulnerability in a way that strengthens them. We draw comfort from knowing we can comfort. We draw strength from knowing we can protect. Yet we’re always in search of those weaker than us, or holding on to those needing our strength, rarely realising that there are others, significant others, that need to draw on our weaknesses so that they in turn can feel strong, significant, or worthy of providing comfort.

Sometimes we stay because we don’t believe we’re deserving of better. Sometimes we stay because we hold a deep conviction that we are able to create something better. And sometimes we’re entirely oblivious as to why we stay because we’ve restrained ourselves from moving on for so long, that we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that every reason to do so has been exhausted, and the only rational option that remains is to stay and draw strength from the morbid comfort of familiarity.

There is a difference between giving up and wanting to move on. I choose to move on, not because I lack loyalty or commitment, but because I demand it as well. And when it is lacking, I refuse to accept that my self loathing should drive me to believe that I deserve nothing more. My greatest achievement in life has been to rid myself of the expectation of pleasing others. It came at a price. Often a very expensive price. But the liberation that it afforded me was and still is priceless. Living without feeling obliged, knowing that every act is one of choice and not obligation, knowing that every reciprocation is one of gratitude and not guilt, and knowing that favour is not my motivator but fulfilment is. That is what moving on has allowed me to achieve. The sweetness of being independent of man, but dependent on faith only. It has made me realise exactly how fickle I am, so that I find myself praying that others around me find the same comfort in faith, because fulfilment is evasive in their services to me. And so I pray that they also find comfort in moving on, even from me if needed, if that is what will give them the sweet taste of that most lonely of liberations.