Emotions, Personal Growth

Pondering Comfort Eating

I never understood the concept of comfort eating — even when I was doing it. I never understood it because I don’t particularly like food that much … so why does eating bring me comfort? Why use eating as a means to distract me from loneliness or heartache? Other than the search for food, but hunting down ice cream is hardly that challenging.

Then I heard Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin on Hilary Hendershott’s Profit Boss podcast talking about it. She described it thusly (paraphrasing): our first experiences in life as a baby are of being held as we were fed. On a primal, visceral level, eating brings with it this initial sense of connection to those who cared for us. Eating brings back, even temporarily, that feeling of being connected to others, of being loved, of feeling cared for, of being important.

Well shiiiii. Now I understand it! Absolutely. Plus, I can now see exactly why I was doing it myself. Holy moly! Interestingly, the very next day I’m standing in 7-11 with my Big Gulp refill mug, looking at the Dr. Pepper button and think “Ew, I don’t want that today.” This is my go-to drink for the morning jolt of caffeine and sugar. Even just the day before, this same trip was almost like an addict taking their first drag of the day. Now I’m suddenly emotionally like “nah, don’t want it”. *boggles* Did just being aware of why I am reaching for this comfort drink make that big a difference?? Well, heck, next time I’m thinking about stopping by DQ for a cone, I’m gonna call a friend instead. My wallet and my waist will thank me!

 

About the Featured Image: swiped from a Cooking on the Weekends blog post. Looks nummy, doesn’t it?

 

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Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Evaluating The Source

My BA is in History. While there is a great deal that this degree taught me, one of the biggest ones was the ability to evaulate the source of the information. The first round of evaulation breaks the sources down into tiers of evidence, from most to least reliable. Notice, it’s “reliable” … not “accurate”.

Primary evidence is the most trustworthy because it means the information came from someone who truly knows first hand what the information is. They participated in the events described. A first-person account of a battle or even the genealogy written into the family Bible are considered primary sources. This doesn’t mean the evidence is fool proof or free from bias; that has to be assessed next but first-person accounts always have the most weight. Government records are typically considered primary because usually the information was supplied by the individual being recorded. Secondary sources are those written after the event but not by those who actually participated in the event. Memoirs written decades after a battle are still first-person and so primary, but “grandpa told me this is what happened” sorts of reports are secondary. Reported by a second person from first person accounts. Often, well done scholary books are secondary sources because they reference and interpret mostly primary sources. Tertiary sources are the least reliable. The “my friend’s friend told my sister’s cousin that her grandpa said this is what happened” type of situation. Tertiary sources should never be used for anything of merit, though sometimes they are quite colorful.

The second round of evaluation means assessing the information contained within the source. Do we know who wrote it? If so, does that person have an agenda they are pushing or are they educated enough to actually understand the tactics behind the events they lived through? If it’s a translation of a first-person account, how accurate is the translation? How far removed from the events was this recorded? Etc.

Understanding the logical fallacies is a helpful addition to this evaluation process, but it wasn’t part of my training and was an idea I came across years later. I still include them though.

Why am I bringing this up? I’m listening to a bunch of different podcasts by financial educators and I’m hearing some things which are pinging my “secondary source” or “agenda/bias” warnings. Then I started thinking of news events and commercials and personal interactions with people.

Is being able to evaluate the sources of information provided an important skill to cultivate? HELL YES.

Why? It’s so much easier to see through the manipulation of commercials if you can say “Red Herring fallacy” when you hear the ad. It’s easier to unveil the lies of politicians if you recognize “Strawman Argument”. It’s much harder for a manipulative person or news article to get their hooks into you if you can see the biases or agenda which drive them. If I’m listening to a Congressional hearing and their evidence is all tertiary, there’s some bullshittery going on. Etc.

Unfortunately, this type of thing falls into the Critical Thinking category. It seems Critical Thinking has tragically become anathema, right along side education and intellectual pursuits. I also think that common sense and critical thought go together – so it’s little wonder common sense is not particularly common.

In truth, it doesn’t matter where the information is coming from – there’s always personal bias and perspective at play. The job of the evaluator is to determine the level of reliability any information has. See if you can evaluate the next few commercials you hear, or new articles you read. Most ESPECIALLY, put on your evaluator hat when you hear one person bitching about another behind their back.

 

About the Featured Image: It’s the Simpsons, in the episode where Lisa is objecting to the meat being served in the cafeteria. The lunch lady pushes this button to alert authorities that a child is thinking critically and needs to be stopped.

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Emotions, Personal Growth

When People Tell You…

I was speaking with someone once long ago about the shit line that some guys will pull up-front – the whole “I’m just going to hurt you” type of comment. The gal I was speaking to had definitely heard this before — from her then-husband when they first started dating. I did not know this when I heard the song which inspired the conversation.

Essentially, if someone right off the bat flat out TELLS me that they will just end up hurting me, guess what? This train stops right now and I am getting the freak OFF. Why? Because essentially I was just told that I had fair warning that I will be abused in the future and that if I proceed with this relationship in any capacity, it WILL happen. I have been warned, after all. What I told my friend was that basically if someone tells me right out of the gate “I’m a dick and don’t respect you enough to treat you with … well, respect” then I’ve got enough self-esteem to say “Ok, nice meeting you. Have a good life.”

What boggled my mind is that my friend never actually thought about this before. Hell, she MARRIED the jerk and then was all butt-hurt when he turned out to be … a jerk! As advertised. So as I see it, this statement is a power play which immediately puts the on-notice person into the “you will really have to work for my approval” category and for some reason, many people actually fall for it. Make excuses, as my friend did.

  • He didn’t really mean that.
  • I bet my love will redeem him.
  • I love a strong man like that.
  • Ooooo, a challenge.

*headdesk* All of these are rationalizations. Be prepared for the future abuse in whatever form! It’s a power game aimed at control and safety for the abuser.

But there’s a female equivalent which has never really been called out and I’m going to call it out now.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

*blink*blink* So you are giving me notice that you are a raging bitch some days and candy sweet other days? That you are abusive, and then expect to be forgiven once the storm has passed — and it happens regularly enough you have to laughingly warn me about it. I call bullshit. Let me rephrase that to more accurately reflect every person that I am personally aware of who actively uses this mantra: “I’m abusive, and if you want the good parts then you’ll take the bad as part of the package without questioning it or holding me accountable for it.”

Sure everyone has bad days, and everyone deals with bad days differently. That’s not what this line refers to though. It’s a much bigger statement than “I sometimes have bad days and might be cranky then.” But if someone uses this line to justify and excuse their abusive, shitty, self-centered rage fests, then I’m outta there. That person’s “best” is definitely not sufficient payment to endure their “worst”.

Think of this physical example: bad day results in a fist to the cheekbone. MF ouch. Next day? “oh I’m sorry baby” plus excuses/blaming/promises. Guess what? Cheekbone still fractured!! The apology did NOT excuse or make up for the abuse. In any way. No “best” will make up for this “worst”.

Now here’s a literal, real world example from a former friend who loves this shit line (she) and a current good friend (he): they leave apartment and he thought he had keys for door. Get back at 10ish pm and turns out he grabbed the wrong key ring. She EXPLODES with blaming, name calling and other verbal abuse which lasts for HOURS. Next day, apologize and expect forgiveness. My response to this story when I heard it from him? Shock, sadness then anger on behalf of my abused friend. She was WAY out of line and flat abusive when it was a simple honest mistake relatively easily fixed with no real harm done. Except to his self-esteem, his personal power, his energy body, his confidence, his faith in himself. Now I’m going to start working in “emotionally abusive” language into our conversations when I hear this shit. Maybe it will jar him enough to re-evaluate some things. Some days, she’s super nice – but many days, she’s just a controlling, fearful girl who uses abusing others to feel safe. Not cool. SOOOO not cool. But it’s never her fault, of course.

So yeah. There’s the occasional “bad day” which I deal with and move on and it is NEVER okay to take it out anyone around me — EVER; and then there’s the person who has so many “bad days” that they become part of the character which has to be taken into consideration.

Listen to what people say, and take them at their word. If someone tells you, however veiled, that they are abusive in any form … walk away, and don’t look back.

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Emotions, Personal Growth

Dualism Phallicy

I’m totally binge watching Supernatural and now I’m finally up to season 12. In season 11, they resolved the whole “God abandoned his post” storyline which was started in like season 3 or something. In episode 21 of season 11, Dean is airing his beef with God. There’s a whole lot of blaming God for everything bad – wars, plagues, floods, etc. There’s also a whole lot of demanding God apologize for not answering prayers, or taking care of shit other people started. Etc.

The character is pretty silent throughout this and finally says something akin to “helicopter parenting isn’t parenting.” I’m seriously paraphrasing that, but that was the gist. Essentially, “if I kept doing everything for you, you’d never freakin’ grow up.” I just about cheered.

Why?

I remember sitting in a panel way back in college during a religion and philosophy club luncheon. The guest speaker was addressing the question of if God is all good and all powerful, then why does He allow evil in the world. I actually chuckled at the question, and was then surprised to see how seriously others were taking it. A bit taken aback, I decided to listen to the lecture. At the end, I was still completely puzzled at the question as a premise. At the time, I didn’t have the perspective to think “what is your foundational world view that is being violated such that it would lead to this question?”

Now I understand it. In a nutshell: dualism.

Well, apparently I’m not a dualist. At all. I was in high school when I read Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse and his devil character said “Didn’t you know? God is the Devil seen through the eyes of the ignorant.” That pretty much sums up my view on the whole thing. This dualistic split down the middle of all-good and all-bad doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s my take.

So if the question doesn’t make sense to me, what is my take on the concept of God “permitting” evil?

I think, ultimately, evil comes from the hearts of humanity. Almost all of the true evils in the world (and I’m NOT counting natural disasters or diseases as “evil”, those just are and we judge them by how they impact us) are done through the actions of humanity. In fact, I can’t really think of a single evil which is not attributed to some action, philosophy, religious ideology, inaction, etc. of humanity’s.

We choose how to act toward our fellow man. We CHOOSE to build walls and bombs. I think that what inspires almost all of the true ugliness is actually fear. Fear of change, of “them”, of loosing what I have, etc. And fear gives us permission to do all kinds of truly vile and evil things. Being a student of history, I shudder in horror at the tremendously creative ways that we have devised over the centuries to torture each other. It’s all rather convenient to claim “the devil made me do it” in whatever form so we can pretend that evil doesn’t lie in our own hearts, but that’s a gimmick.

So if humanity chooses to be evil, guess what? We can choose to be good too. And we do! We choose it with every act of compassion, kind word and gesture.

I remember once watching a documentary in which a reformed extremist was saying that at the time he wanted to bomb the Twin Towers because as a culture we’ve lived in peace for generations. We didn’t know what it was like to live in terror of the scream of incoming missiles in the middle of the night, or random mass violence. He hated us for that, and he wanted to destroy that. He wanted to see us as violent as the world in which he grew up in. That was only fair. And there it is – the choice. Rather than saying “See, it’s possible. They are doing it! Proof! We can do it too. Let’s aim higher than where we are and embrace each other to live in peace,” this particular mindset instead choose the smaller path, the path guided by fear and jealousy. The one which says “if I can’t have it, you can’t have it either!” Those are the choices!! Both options are open to us. While one will we take?

I’ve said elsewhere that the test is easy as to whether or not the idea or the message or the challenge before us is one of evil (Satan, and it’s very hard not put that in quotes) or good (God). God will always ask us to be bigger than we believe we can be. The good path is the one which says “I know you’re afraid, but step beyond the limits you think you have and be better, more loving, more generous, more open. Look up in order see your potential.”

So I don’t think God permits evil. I think we do, and it will be that way until we decide collectively to change it. It will be that way until we as a species grow up and put on out collective big-person pants and say “I’m responsible for this, I got it. I choose to help those around me.”

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Emotions, Personal Growth

Locating Anchors

Have you ever been speaking to someone and they present their position as obvious but it makes no sense to you?

I think I’ve given this example before, but it’s the most complete one I have. I was speaking with a friend about the concept of reincarnation. One of his arguments was “that doesn’t account for the rise in population”. Utterly baffled by this, I said “noooooo, advances in medicine account for the rise in population.” It was literally YEARS after this discussion that it suddenly hit me: his base assumption was that all souls were created at one time, and that only a finite number were created. To him, that finite number had long been passed and with 6+ Billion people on the planet at the time, ‘recycling’ souls was clearly impossible. That concept was literally so foreign to me, it never entered my head. From the perspective of my own operational framework, his statement was nonsense. In his framework, my position was nonsense. Neither of us had the wherewithal to consider that perhaps the underlying assumptions for our positions were what we needed to be looking at – not the outcome or conclusion of those assumptions.

I’ve encountered this many times in my life. The whole “mind/body problem”, which apparently consumes a lot of modern metaphysics, to me is like saying “the whole left eye/right eye problem”.  What?? You make no sense. Ditto with the question of why God “permits” “evil”. What a nonsense question, though at least I can sometimes actually reach and hold onto the base assumptions people have which lead them to this particular question. I have to really work to find the base assumptions for the mind/body problem, and then I can’t hold on to them. They slip away and I have to rediscover them again to address the outcome of those assumptions.

The point of this example is to remind myself that when I’m talking with someone or reading a work (most especially not a contemporary one!), to take very seriously the question of “what are the root assumptions guiding these conclusions which the speaker/author may take so for granted that they don’t bear stating?” If I’m writing a treatise, I’m not really going to bother saying something I consider to be self-evident or commonplace – ie I won’t bother stating the equivalent of “the sun rises in the east, hits the zenith in the south and sets in the west.” That is such a baseline assumption it doesn’t typically really merit being spelled out.

Keep in mind also that when these baseline assumptions get called into question, this is very threatening to most people. These assumptions are often the foundations upon which an entire world view is built; assumptions formed by the Child mind about How The World Works. For the average person, these will be defended quite vigorously – most especially those that represent the Core or the Central ideas about which everything else revolves. Try telling someone deeply religious that God does not sit in judgment of their lives, or that Heaven/Hell are just ideas, etc. Tell the devout Atheist there is in fact a God. What happens?

If someone becomes defensive, the conversation is over. If someone becomes defensive, it is solely because they FEEL as if they are under attack – regardless of my intentions. If I wish to pursue a conversation or an exploration of ideas, I MUST be cognizant of this and maneuver in such a way as to ensure my conversation partner no longer feels threatened. That’s on me. As an emotionally aware person, I have to recognize not only when I feel myself getting defensive but in that moment also diagnose exactly why. This is not easy, and most people cannot do it. If you want more on this concept, check out Crucial Conversations. This is a GOLDMINE of information. Gold. Mine.

Another VITAL part when it comes to dealing with root assumptions: never be dismissive. Almost all root assumptions were decided on by an infant to a toddler to a young child. The Child is the first foray into life every single human goes through and it’s up to the Child to very quickly assess a safe path through a dangerous world. Sometimes those conclusions don’t really reflect the larger world, but to the Childmind make 100% sense. Rare is the person who goes back to dig up these root assumptions and re-examine them through the lens of the adult mind. This is why I call the Child survival archetype The Guardian of Faith – because once the Child decides that’s How The World Works, it becomes a matter of faith that these conclusions are correct. Moving on.

To be dismissive or derogatory toward the foundations of someone else’s world view is particularly … childish. Heh. It assumes that my view is the only truly logical one, but my view is the product of my own individual life. Is my life – especially as a child – so vast and far reaching that my conclusions are the ONLY logical ones? I would argue against such a naïve position. Instead, I find it far more advantageous to attempt to set aside my own assumptions, and explore someone else’s with open questions. OPEN means just that – open, non-threatening, inviting, curious, interested, engaging, expansive. Even so, sometimes defensiveness is triggered because the assumptions within a belief system conflict with each other and haven’t been reconciled — and often there’s no interest in doing so. I also find these conversations fascinating because they help me locate my own root assumptions. I can feel them being triggered, then I plant a little mental flag in them to revisit later.

I’m setting out to read Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, written in the early part of the 16th century. Will he have root assumptions which he takes so for granted that they don’t really need to be said? Oh heck yes. Will I as the reader get more or less out of the study if I am aware of this and attempt to locate/state these assumptions? Oh heck yes. It’s this project which inspired this post, but my goal for the project is to actually do a podcast on it. I’d like to read a chapter, then discuss it. That said, I don’t consider myself a particularly strong scholar, so that will be a hindrance, though I am relatively well versed in the time frame. I expect as the project goes on and I start to dig in more, I’ll get a better grounding. That is, in fact, the purpose of this project. Besides, I happen to know a damn fine researcher/librarian I can tap for assistance if I need it. 😉

 

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Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Dark Side Cookies

I was doing some research on the Pillars of Solomon and part of that included listening to Taliesin McKnight’s video post on the subject. The idea of the Great Work in general is uniting both halves of the self into a unified whole, or regenerating the soul is the term he used. The topic of looking at the light (known) and dark (unknown) parts of ourselves in the endless quest to bring more of ourselves into the light of understanding is pretty much the topic of this journal/blog.

In the cited video, at about 21:50, where he is talking about the repressed and expressed sides of the self, he uses his own literal shadow to illustrate this point.

In that moment, a word sprang across my brain: Doppelganger. Literally, it means “double self” and I always thought the doppelganger would find a “host” by stepping into their shadow and becoming that person’s shadow – only once it had fully imprinted on the person, it could detach at will and become an exact duplicate of that person. Essentially an Evil Twin. It would do its mischief, and then return to the host as their shadow, the person being none the wiser. In researching the doppelganger, I didn’t find too much about the shadow part so forgive the error but that was my understanding of this word which encapsulated the concept to follow.

The shadow, or the repressed and unacknowledged aspect of ourself, is still us, still me. I may not acknowledge my inner cheerleader but she’s there – lurking in the shadow of me, waiting to pop out to prance around and shake pompoms. Like all aspects of the self, it wants to be expressed. It WANTS to see the light of day and dance in the sun; but it can’t, because I have that perky little bitch in chains chucked into the basement. Alas, the more I seek to deny and bury these repressed aspects, the more they can sneak around and get out on their own. Indeed, this is the very concept behind the Hall of Mirrors – what I repress in myself I give to others, and they are my mirror. The more unaware of this whole process I am, the more I live deep in a Hall of Mirrors having no idea that what I am seeing are actually distorted versions of myself.

So the myth of the doppelganger, or shadow person, is a PERFECT allegory for this. That shadow self IS me, and when it slips away from my conscious control it’s like someone other than me is sitting at the helm, using my body to dick with people.

I sat agog at how beautiful this myth perfectly illustrated the concept. Then other images flashed to mind and I started to see just how many of our myths include the concept that while the Dark may be evil, that’s where true power lies, and if courted or sometimes just given half a chance then it will take us over.

I’ve been hot-boxing Supernatural (DEAN! *faints dead away*), since they are now up to like season 13 and I originally stopped watching after season 5. It’s not really a show you can just catch piecemeal, so I had to stop and now I’m finally catching up. Anyway, I’ve totally been stewing in the demon and witch mythos that the show really hits hard. Talk about a perfect illustration of the idea!

  • Witches get their otherworldly power from a pact with a demon, a being from the darkest pits of Hell. Once granted, it’s really not feasible to be a nice person still.
  • Demons, well, they are darkness and they can take over a person and do all manner of evil then, leaving the person to pay for the crimes of this controlling “alien” entity that made them do these things.
  • The werewolf is somewhat similar, in that it comes out at night and is uncontrollable evil, taking over the helpless daytime self.
  • Switching shows a bit: “If only you knew the POWAAH of the Dark Side!” Dude. Archetypal much?

So yeah, this shadow aspect of ourselves which has the power to take over in some form or other is so freaking common in our stories and myths that when I stopped to see it … it was impressive. How could I have missed this?? But now that I see it, I’m starting to really re-evaluate a lot of storylines…

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Emotions, Spirituality

All is Mental

This is the first of the Hermetic Principles which is nicely spelled out and distilled in the Kybalion. It’s covered ad nauseum in many different videos on YouTube, so I’m not really going to repeat what this means any more than I have to.

Essentially, the principle is that everything sprang from and exists in the mind of the All/the Creator/the Creative Principle. Mind mind mind. Everything is about the all powerful mind, a concept which is echoed very strongly throughout many of the New Age philosophies, a la The Secret. Now using the Principle of Correspondence (as above, so below) I’m going to make the staggering assumption that The All thinks … a lot, like I do. I imagine all sorts of things, but what is the difference between a day dream which is essentially a flight of fancy and a true dream which motivates me to action? Emotion. The difference is emotion.

I particularly like Mark Passio’s take that there is a hidden 8th Principle which encompasses and unites all the other Principles: Care. So what’s the difference between a flight of fancy which has weak mental energy and a motivating image which has strong mental energy? Care. Emotion.

Now I have said somewhere in here that I tend to view that one of the purposes of existence in this dense level of material reality is to learn how powerful our thoughts are; that dense matter is designed to act as a buffer between “thought” and “manifestation”, with action of some form being required to birth a mental construct. Imagine the level of chaos we’d have if all of our fantasies were instantly real? Ugh! We are largely exceedingly mentally undisciplined, and a quick peek at any Social Media outlet illustrates this.

Now I know just how powerful mind is, but I also know that emotion is the fuel. They are like 2 parts of a whole, steering wheel and engine. If the engine isn’t on, turning the wheel doesn’t gain me much – no matter how awesome that wheel may be. If the engine is running but the wheel is allowed to spin, that will not end well either. So now I have to ask myself: is emotion something associated with this level of existence, or is it part of Mind?

As I was typing that out I got a mental image (hah!) of the “separation of head and heart” being an illusion. An image that heart is mind and mind is heart, but again for this level of reality they needed to be separated – at least superficially – in order to teach us how they work together. We as a culture, and by this I mean pretty much every single patriarchial culture on the planet, is terrified of the power of emotions. Of the chaos of them. Of the pain of what it means to feel. Of the vulnerability that emotional attachments bring. This is also an idea I’ve explored here, where “strength” is defined as being largely unaffected by emotions (ie: not vulnerable) with the exception of anger, while “weak” is defined as being emotional/vulnerable. Men are “strong” and women are “weak”, and my take on this was: Bullshit. Cutting off access to the full range of emotion isn’t “strong” – it’s brittle. True strength is flexibility, not rigidity. True strength is having the courage to own our vulnerability while taking responsbility for its protection and care. So in our collective zeal to chuck emotions (especially the hard ones like grief) into the abyss, we’ve created an artificial heart/mind dicotomy – as artificial and non-sensical as the “mind/body problem.”

There is a movie that I really loved called Delgo. The main character is a student StoneSage, and they can control the elements with their mind using their hands to guide and direct. So replace “hand” with “mind” and this quote sums it all up perfectly.

“The novice follows his hand.
The student follows his heart.
The master knows no difference. The hand and the heart are one.”
– Elder Marley in “Delgo”

All is Mind. I’ll agree with that principle as long as Mind includes Heart. All is Mind/Heart. To care about something enough to even think it is what I’m driving at here. If what I think becomes instantly real and I am deeply aware of this and I have any degree of control at all, there are many things that I won’t bother entertaining; but in this level of reality right here where in order to make something manifest I have to do more than think it, I’m fine with mental bubble gum chewing. It’s part of the learning process. Understanding viscerally how Care and manifestation of Mind are actually related is rather one of the main reasons for 3D reality.

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