Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

All (gender) are Stupid.

“Of course I can have deep, meaningful conversations with impact. Let’s talk about … my hair!”

I stumbled across a post written by a fellow with … well … hatred, distain and contempt for women in general. He espoused the same concepts that I see throughout history from the ancient Greeks on up to today. He had nothing new to add, just more vitriol and “proof” for his position. That position being that the female gender is entirely a vapid, unreasoning, narcissistic, short-sighted, small-minded creature who is incapable of bringing anything of value to the adult table.

*sigh*

In my journey through life, I have noticed that people, men AND women, tend to live up to what is expected of them. Culturally, women are indeed expected to be this shallow, self-centered, unreasonable, intellectually unchallenging creature just as described. I have been told repeatedly not to speak of anything with meaning or impact because men find it “unattractive” or “intimidating” or “threatening.” Indeed, the joke is “most women would rather have beauty than brains, because most men can see better than they can think.” I personally prefer brains – beauty fades, and because hair and shoes are perhaps the most eye-crossingly stupid conversation I can IMAGINE, and yet I know women who will discuss these things literally all night long. And yes, I’ve known plenty of women who are beyond unreasonable to the point of inanity and those women, I want to choke. They exist sure, but so do unreasonable men!! Holy mother, do they exist too. So I ask a better question in response:

Do women (people) merely live up to the “ideal” they are permitted/expected to adhere to or is this behavior truly native and therefore uninfluenced by culture? The flip side of this question would be: are men as they are because this is what was expected of them?

To further explore a bit, Are the male and female brain literally so radically different that it is only the exceptional female who is capable of thinking, as Stoker put it, “with a man’s mind?” I would posit that the answer is “no, they are not that different” and what one gender is capable of, so too is the other. I do recognize that the focus is often inherently different, so it’s easy to use a yard stick instead of a meter and not realize they are different systems of measure entirely. That requires perspective and curiosity to discover this one.

Suffice to say, I’ve known waaaaaay more stupid, vapid men who want to discuss nothing more impactful then their cars or sports than I’ve known men who ask any form of philosophically probing question. I married the guy who asked and continues to ask those questions! I would analogize cars and sports with fashion and makeup. Each gender stereotypically has their own niche for banal, mind-numbing, insignificant conversations. Neither gender has cornered the market on that particular aspect of what is means to be an average human being. Of course, I don’t generally hang out with unthinking, unreasoning people – male OR female – and so I have relatively few friends, mainly because MOST people simply don’t like to think. It’s sad to be told “You make my brain hurt”.

Back to the concept of “people living up to your expectations”. I have seen the exact same person have completely different responses to a situation based solely on who is present and what is expected of them in that situation. So if the people you come into contact with keep REAFFIRMING an idea you already have, perhaps this is not actually a reflection of them… but rather you looking into the Hall of Mirrors and failing to recognize the true reflection being seen.

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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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Hall of Mirrors

Some Ideas Should Pack a Punch

Human trafficking. What an … innocuous sounding phrase. Sanitized. Intellectualized. Removed from the grit. In other words, it’s been churched up. Feel your gut emotional response when you hear about modern human trafficking issues.  Pay attention to the power those words have on you, on your attention. This a concept we can sit around at tea discussing like civilized people with our pinky in the air.

Now let’s replace those sterilized words with their original ones.

Slave Trade. Feel your gut emotional response when you hear about the modern slave trade in action. How many children are stolen for the SLAVE TRADE, by SLAVE TRADERS today. In 2017. Right here in America. It’s not about race. Or gender. Or class. It’s about money, and assholes who have no soul who’ll do anything for it.

There are some concepts which should NOT BE sanitized. Which should punch you in the gut and rob you of breath in horror. This is one of them. There are no ‘human traffickers’ — there are only slave traders.

 

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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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Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

We are One

Ohotto has a new title that he’s chosen for his work in astrology: HoloKompass. It’s a blend of the words “hologram” and “compass”. A hologram is a 3-d image made of light. What makes true holograms really cool is that no matter how you slice it up or take it apart, each piece will still contain the whole picture. If my body were a hologram, and I pulled out a single liver cell, that liver cell would still be my entire body — just tiny. Of course, my body is not a hologram.

A while ago I did an examination of a cultural wound, and afterwards I was wondering just what the heck I could do to actually address the wound? I mean, I’m one person, and my blog here hardly has any traffic. It’s not like my work is actually going to impact anyone. Why bother?

So a few days later there I am driving in the car, listening to Ohotto’s latest offering of Jupiter/Venus Retrograde and he’s talking about what he means by his use of holokompass. Random things begin to rise to the surface of my awareness, like flashcards.

Hologram.

One Person.

All is One.

What All does affects the One.

What One does affects the All.

Suddenly it coalesced in my brain. I know that the individual physical self is both real and illusion, that beneath the meat suit is a soul which is connected to the All and thus all is already one while being many – even if we don’t see it yet. In addition to this, I know that every individual human contains the full range of Humanity within them. If one human is capable of murder, so are all. If one human is capable of love, so are all. I could be Jeffrey Dahmer or Mother Theresa but for the choices I have made and the circumstances I exist within. You will never hear me say “Oh I could never do such-and-such” because I know I’m capable of anything any human anywhere has ever done for emotional reasons — but for the choices I make. In this way, Humanity is a hologram.

When I start to see and work with emotional conditions, even if it’s just me by myself in my little ill-traveled corner of the internet, those ideas and emotional realities are being shared with the whole of humanity through our holographic nature, through the unity. So is my work truly wasted? Even if no one ever reads it?

I suddenly now realize, no. It’s not wasted. None of it is wasted. It may not be a tsunami, but it is a drop, a steady drip drip drip. And with enough time, a steady drip can carve great things.

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Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Trusting Others

I’ve been hotboxing the StarGate family of series and one really struck me. It was a StarGate SG1 episode called Past and Present in which a returning character had her memory wiped and she didn’t remember that she was a sociopathic murderer and as a result, now she’s nice. That said, there were clues sprinkled very subtly in a couple of places that perhaps some part of her is still not that nice. In the end, she takes something to help restore her memories and decides she hates the person she was … so she takes the original drug again in order to wipe away the memory.

Interesting. Of course it’s the “nature versus nurture” type of question but something struck me. Do you know Aesop’s fable of the Scorpion and the Frog?  If not, look it up. It’s worth knowing. Essentially, in the case of this character, will her lack of memory about who she was truly change who she is?

Will erasing a scorpion’s memory allow it believe it is something else? For the rest of its life?

Long ago I was talking to hubby about trusting people and feelings of betrayal. I said I pretty much take the approach that everyone is who they are – a scorpion is a scorpion and a frog is a frog. I have the ability read people pretty quickly, thus I can always trust them to be true to their basic nature as I understand it. Words mean little, even some actions mean little. If someone surprises me, it means I didn’t really see their nature in the first place. To that, they will be true.

The only person I’ve ever truly felt betrayed by was me, and this always boiled down to me failing to recognize my own nature and then putting myself in situations which I could not honestly support.

You can only ever trust someone to be who they are.

The episode had a lot of potential to really dig into this question but they chose not to. They remained light and fluffy. Disappointing. What is fascinating is that through that series you can really see the American shadow hero. It’s very interesting from that standpoint.

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Hall of Mirrors

Personal Inventories

I had a thought today while driving home and listening once again to Ohotto‘s Saturn in Sagittarius series. The part he was talking about was taking a personal inventory of where you are in relation to your concepts of truth. This is an idea I hear a lot of teachers include which essentially I translate as “interview yourself to find out where your blind spots are.”

Huh. If I knew where my blind spots are, they wouldn’t be blind spots.

In this particular part, he’s talking about inconvenient truths. They are inconvenient in that by recognizing them we have to decide what to do about them. I will add in that instinctively we know that by recognizing a situation’s truth we have to make a choice, and that choice will ultimately either be right or wrong to greater or lesser degrees. Better to ignore the situation then make the wrong choice, because I can blame inaction on “how I was supposed to know?” as opposed to “Yeah, I knew full well and did it anyway.”

So to retranslate into this example, “interview myself to find out what inconvenient truths I need to recognize but haven’t yet.” *blink*blink* That’s a tall order. I absolutely agree it is something that every thinking person needs to do, but I don’t think it’s a moment in time where I can sit down and say “what am I not seeing about myself and my situation?” I’m not seeing it for a host of reasons! There are some I can rattle off, but definitely not the deeper or larger ones.

What I would need is a mindset shift and a set of tools to help trigger me into recognizing “wait a minute, is this one of my inconvenient truths?” Not only a set of tools to help me recognize either in the moment or afterwards, but also tools on working through the emotional system which was forcing that truth to go unrecognized in the first place.

This is actually what I think my Hall of Mirrors training provided for me. By owning that I am indeed IN a Hall of Mirrors I put the first tool of recognition into my kit. The rest of the Hall includes steps on different types of recognition – internal and external. The more I used it, the easier it got until right in the middle of a projection flare-up I could recognize what was happening to me and consciously choose what my next step would be.

Interestingly, with those tools in my arsenal, I’ve found them exceedingly useful when it comes to feeling out when familial and cultural wounds are running amok in my psyche in real time.

Anyway, that was my thought on this approach. An inventory is great, but it’s not a one-time thing and being able to do it well requires a bit more emotional savvy than most people are experienced with. Anyone can learn it, of course, and once learned it is applicable in SOOO many ways.

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