The Recurrent 'Accident'
I am deeply aware that the (collective) mourning in Greece is very recent and based on the occasion of the tragic event, I wanted to share some various broader thoughts.
Many experts on the subject have now explained that, unfortunately, the accident was a matter of time before it happened. This is because for years those responsible have never taken steps to ensure, as far as humanly possible, the safety of train passengers.
The phenomenon for the Greek society is not new in my eyes on a personal and collective level and this concerns the overall lack of love and care.
Driving and using one's mobile phone, riding a motorcycle without a protective helmet, stopping the car wherever one wishes are everyday choices of greek citizens based on taking personal risk for the safety of both themselves and other fellow citizens.
In this country, unfortunately, we learn early on that personal interest overrides all collective, we copy in exams, we give public sector jobs to unqualified people, assign public projects to friends and relatives in exchange for money, and so on.
The instinct of self-preservation and temporary survival prevails again and again over every refined criterion of a just and equal coexistence among all people. We learn to do the same in relationships by acting as "predators" to take from the other what we can without thinking about how the other feels, and ultimately disclaim all responsibility to commit to caring for the other. The message is clear: "my life and desires are worth more than those of the other, not equally. They worth more.
The same deeply sickening symptom appeared in the train incident. An unskilled employee, companies and systems that put benefit and profit before other people's safety and survival. Thus, duty and lives of people were lost somewhere along the way...
I have discussed at length the importance of responsibility, but it seems inexhaustible..
This is because it is a broad theme that permeates all aspects of our lives and is closely linked to the themes of love and care.
The primary concern of parents, for example, is caring for the survival of their children. In general, they should take care to bring food to the table, provide their children with clothes and shoes, and not risk being killed due to their own fault.
What about, though, the psycho-spiritual development of children;;
How a parent makes sure she really knows who her child is, what she likes, what her talents are, what her difficulties are, what her feelings are, what criteria shapes her choices, what she needs and what interests her in her life;
Part of this role rests almost exclusively on education, as if the accumulation of knowledge and information is the only solution. And so parents often avoid really teaching their children what it means, what it's like to be human. Parents avoid or don't know or don't care to know what it's like to be positive role models and not just food providers like other animals in a jungle. Thus, parents often fulfill alone part of the responsibility-care towards their children, caring only for their physical survival and not for them as a whole being.
Consequently, children, as future adults, citizens and parents, learn to have this half-responsibility towards themselves and others, and care so much for their survival rather than their evolution and refinement.
At the same time, our life becomes more complicated due to technology, lifestyle choices (e.g. travelling), information distribution, various relationships (through social media, etc.).).
It is a challenge, then, for today's man, on how he will continue to exist in all this complexity that he has created, and by what moral or not meaningful criteria he will conduct his life.
We have given our lives' keys to money making, to profit making, to an uncontrolled ambition of material wealth, and here are the results. In this regard, the appointed, untrained stationmaster, the companies and the systems involved are acquitted, because they all did what they learned to do, to guarantee their personal survival and well-being, to make cuts to maintain profit, not to invest in the operation of safety systems and so on.
In the same way a parent would say,' I brought food to the table, what else do you want me to do for my child, isn't that enough?'
It is time (that is, it has been a long time coming) to see collectively and genrally whether this is enough, and what is finally enough?
Who and what ultimately drives our car, train, plane, ship of our lives and in what direction?
And of course this is a huge process, because it involves redefining through reflection of the purpose, meaning and function of man in this world. If we perceive ourselves as animals in jungle societies just trying to survive, then achieving self-interest will always be first on the list of criteria for action and behavior.
Game theory (especially the prisoner's game) has shown for several years now that in the long run it is more beneficial to work together than to compete for our survival.
And yet, it seems that many years will pass, and if ever, until people understand that by taking care of each other, we also take care of ourselves, because we guarantee survival for all at all levels (physical, mental and spiritual) and our evolution. Personal gain is not necessarily the opposite of collective as we are used to learn over and over again.
There are many examples of companies and parents caring for their employees and children as a whole, ultimately making more 'profit' in terms of money, but also ethically, such as satisfaction, better relationships and wellbeing.
Alternatively, we can choose to travel to other planets, eat gourmet food and at the same time kill children by all kinds of negligence!
Neglect in psychology is considered a form of abuse.. and it's our choice!
Redefining Today's Normality
It has been a long time since my last article and this is due to the observation and elaboration that is required for the main current matters to be extracted. As always, my writing is fueled by personal experiences and processing and by the broader observations of the collective consciousness.
Today's issue is a huge one and concerns many other sub-issues. I will endeavour to present it intelligibly, and I wish it to be of some benefit to you who devote the time and attention in reading it.
Speaking of normality...
The state that was so aggressively and unexpectedly overturned with the appearance and consequences of the coronavirus that seem to have no end. Whether it was caused by mistake, or intentionally for other purposes, the result is the same, that humanity as a whole to a greater or lesser extent shared a common experience, the same threat and had to adapt to face it in order to survive.
Governments, organisations and individuals have taken emergency measures of restrictions, border closures, vaccinations, personal protection and so much more for the sole purpose of keeping themselves and others around them alive.
We have experienced an extreme situation that in principle is not far from what we need to do or are called to do in our lives daily, that is, to remain alive. We work to make money, we feed ourselves, we use homes, energy and means of transport for security and expansion of activities, we have created entire systems in order to increase our chances of survival, for example in the past a disease could have killed people on a large scale and now with the evolution of medicine and research it can be cured or managed well.
Survival is a constant and arduous effort and sometimes with our daily strives we forget how much we have already achieved and the comforts and conveniences we already enjoy. For example, if the weather conditions do not allow it, then for a season we may not eat our favourite fruit e.g. something we generally take for granted. This is namely our normality. The granted structure, demands, behaviour that through this certainty we can build both ourselves and our lives. If every morning we woke up and wouldn't know if we could find something to eat, then we would wake up more anxious and our survival would be more precarious as it once was.
As I have written before, however, man, precisely because he managed to create the conditions that would allow him to guarantee or significantly increase his chances of survival, he was able to evolve mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This development also concerns how we perceive ourselves, that is, that we have feelings, we have spiritual needs, etc. but also how we create the world around us based on these, we express our feelings in our relationships, we create temples, for example, in order to fulfil a spiritual need, etc. We try, therefore, to satisfy the totality of our needs and to live on the basis of the totality of our nature to the extent that we are conscious of it.
All these constitute, consciously or not, the totality of what we consider normal and everyone can define for themselves how it looks like. For a man born blind, normality is not seeing and possibly needing some special help to participate in the organization of life as it has been done by people who are able to see. A blind person experiences the world differently than a person who can see. But how significant is that difference in terms of the worthiness of the person? Does the person who can see have got "higher" value, than the person who can not? And who sets the criteria for this?
Mankind has given various answers over the centuries to such worthy and rightful questions, for example, the fact that in many countries women were given the right to vote quite recently, shows that they were not considered worthy by a large portion of men, if not all, to have this right.
The debate, obviously, about who has the power historically to decide on these rights is longstanding and I have no intention to elaborate on it here. I think it may be more useful to consider the same issue from a slightly different perspective.
To begin with, by recognising (see the above examples) that just because we were all born on this earth does not mean that we all have the same experiences, either physically, mentally, or spiritually. Two people may have experienced exactly the same thing, but have been affected differently for many reasons, due to temperament, previous experiences, support network, etc. So it probably doesn't help to make constant generalizations, that we're so used to making in a mass culture, if and when we're trying to get to know someone. Open-ended questions ("How are you?" instead of" Are you well?") are more helpful than judgments or conclusions to get to understand the other, if we really want to do so.
When we make arbitrary judgments and draw conclusions about the other, what we really do is we reveal our own normality in relation to the expectations, values and interests that we have consciously or unconsciously chosen for our lives. For example, when we decry homosexuality as something abnormal, then we expose our own conception of normality alone, not God's or the absolute truth's of the world, which may simply contradict what a homosexual considers normal for himself. That is, an adult homosexual person does not need our permission to live her life as she wants it to be, including the use of her body, but also its wider expression.
The problem arises for this person not because of her self-definition per se, but due to childhood experiences, if she has grown up in a family and in a wider society that has been dismissive of her self-determination and sexuality. Simply put, she was told directly and indirectly that what she is and wants is wrong based on the criteria of (hetero) normality that was at play in the society at that time.
In ancient Greece, of which we modern Greeks are so proud, it was permissible for women not to have political rights and, at the same time, men could be sexual with each other under the guise of transmitting knowledge and wisdom. That was the normality then and I can imagine that even then there would be men who would not want to have sex with other men and women who would like to be active in the political life of their place, but they were not allowed to.
For those who consciously or unconsciously ignore it, let me inform you/ remind you that this kind of homogenized normality has not still disappeared nowadays. Still women are beaten and killed because they dare to speak their mind and oppose a man, another woman or the entire patriarchal system, still young people are persecuted and rejected by the' womb', the people who gave birth to them, because they have a different sexual preference from themselves or they define their gender different to their birth one, still trans people cannot find' normal 'jobs because they are not 'normal'.
We see that the issue of normality governs all aspects of our lives, either externally from what society expects of us, but also internally from what we have incorporated as 'right', 'normal', healthy, etc.
But the story and the conversation don't end here, the narrative we all pretty much know about, feed off and pretend to be surprised every time we hear it again. The subject (not to say drama) in its essence evolves and becomes complicated when this rejection of non-normality continues to live. If the person overcomes suicidal ideations in order to end the pain of rejection he is experiencing, then he is looking for ways to remain mentally and psychologically alive. He hides his sexuality and preferences to the point that they become poison and toxic behaviours with the face of alcoholism, drugs, unaccountable and dangerous sexual practices that lead to self-destruction. At the same time, he embodies as part of his identity that something is lacking in him. Since his own parents do not love and appreciate him anyway, who will? So rejection can take the form of a double life.
It is striking how many bisexual married people with children can be found on gay dating apps that almost no one in their environment knows about this hidden, 'abnormal,' 'kinky' double life that often takes the form of abusive sexual practices (spanking, etc.). So in the dating apps, in the cruising areas , in the dark alleys, in the intervals between work and home, it finds space to exist the diversity that society so denies.
Just think how much rejection a man who confesses to being attracted to both sexes would have to deal with! Clearly, deception and lies as a strategy do guarantee an easier life, because society enjoys its normality like a cat that is constantly licks himself and the person finds a way to satisfy even secretly all his desires.
The price to be paid of course is anxiety to hide the lies, but also fear of being discovered and hurting the legitimate partner.
Worse than rejection and condemnation is the perpetuation of hypocrisy and the creation of false lives. Generations upon generations have lived in lies, justifying it primarily to themselves, that nothing happened because they cheated on their partners, that this is life with compromises and unhappy marriages, that no one can really be free in a relationship, etc. All of these conclusions/ beliefs are the normative remnants of older generations. This is what they knew, of and so they chose to live. And yet why should they be followed blindly by current generations?
Another striking example is childbearing.
For every member of society (my reference is mainly the Greek society) from the moment of their birth there is the expectation of childbearing. What else does a person can do in his life than become a parent? What else makes sense in the eyes of normality than this?
So generations upon generations have children because this will fill their time, give them existential meaning and continue their acceptance by society, without ever asking themselves if they really want them, what children mean to them and, most importantly, without deeply wondering if the way their children are raised differs enough from any form of rejection they may have experienced to a greater or lesser extent from their own parents. In (hetero) normality there is no time for reflection, for self-knowledge, for processing experiences, for healing wounds and so we end up again and again having parents people who are still psychologically children themselves and in an effort to cope mentally with the demands of caring for a child traumatize their children with rejection, indifference, lack of love and meaningful interest in them in the name of simply acceptance by the other 'normals'.
Thus, the homosexual child in the above example not only feels that there is something "wrong" in him, but lacks the guidance, support and love that every person is entitled to in order to create a happy life, because there is no one around him who can give it to him and appreciate him for who he really is. All around him there are mainly guys imitating one another in stupidity that provides security and acceptance. Of course, it takes courage to recognize and support one's own diversity, whatever that may be, as it also takes courage for a parent to consider whether they really love their child (and shows it to them) for who they are unconditionally or not.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this and people who have dared to ask deep questions to themselves or have chosen to live other normal lives. But did we really ask them with open ears and hearts about the cost they paid for this choice (loneliness, etc.)? Not more, but in the same way and interest that we would ask a parent what they sacrificed or how difficult it was for them to raise their children they chose to have.
The example of sexuality was only one of those characteristics that I encounter in the therapeutic context for which a person in the context of a (hetero) normality can be rejected. Even in normality there may be rejections, when a man, for example, is more sensitive or a woman more dynamic than what is expected, that is, when the "role model" does not agree with the "real" for the collective accepting standards.
Moreover these models are constantly incarnated and not by chance, by the celebrities. this sexy blonde presenter, the 'good boy' actor, the impressive director who, not quite by chance, advertise products that suggest you buy them to become a little like them, normal, recognizable, important.
While I am used to closing the articles with motivational questions, today's topic inspires me so much that I will prefer to close with affirmations; of those that hardly in such regularity find the light and the equal recognition they deserve.
Behind every rejected child there is always a rejected parent who has not learned to love and take care of themselves. Even the ones we call narcissists, they are these people who no one saw or really loved them for their weaknesses, insecurities and mistakes, and they unconsciously decided to shut themselves in a room along with their mirror to stay safe by constantly seeing their reflection in it.
The true unconditional love that we assume parents experience for their children is not unconditional at all, if they have not loved or are not trying to love themselves deeply. When one loves deeply, one sees that there is no other person who does not deserve love for exactly who they are beyond prejudices and judgements.
I guess it's time, along with so much else, to rethink our relationship with normality. What nature creates is normal, it doesn't ask for our permission to create it, it creates man and worms and butterflies and trees and fish. Everything deserves love and whether we give it to it depends on how much we truly and unconditionally connect with it and the rest of existence.
It's probably also time to rethink our relationship with our spirituality through normality. With the "death of God" and the fear we had against breaking his rules, we are simply uncontrollable instincts that found our new God in materialism, eating, drinking, overusing the resources of our "home", earth, to satisfy a need that can not be satisfied through material goods and concerns our souls. I do not claim that matter does not have its own value, but ask anyone around you who you consider successful, wise and happy how they define them and I imagine that their answers will converge in the tranquility of the soul, in love, in the acceptance of what is, because any war on the outside also means a war on the inside, of one part of us against another as humanity and as a collective soul.
Love is one of those inexhaustible subjects that everyone has their own experiences and opinions about. Observing various aspects of love expression during the holy period of Orthodox Easter, where people gather together more, I felt strongly the need to discuss it a little deeper.
It is a common agreement now that our first impression of the world are taken from the family and the environment in which we grow up. There, through words and actions, from how the 'adults' and the children around us feel, express themselves and communicate with one another, we understand whether something is allowed or not, how emotions are manifested, how people relate to each other and how they feel and behave in specific situations e.g. in grief, celebrations etc. That is, we create and internalise a scenario, a model, a construct of the emotional spectrum, its manifestations and associations.
One of the main feelings is that of love that has a specific wavelength, vibration that is emitted when someone feels it. It is a vibration of calmness, 'openness' and 'expansion', acceptance, satisfaction and fulfilment. These words do matter, because we often hear people associate love with something hurtful, stressful, anxiety provoking, agonising, tiring, demanding, painful etc. But why is that? That is precisely the point I want to discuss.
Most people know love through our early environments as something "conditional, ""if you're a good kid, I'll do this for you," or "if you loved me, you'd do this," or " if you love someone, you'll have to accept everything they do." Thus, we learn that in order to get something we want, in order to be accepted, in order to be loved, in order to get something we need from someone else, there must always be a condition, which is at first set by someone else and later we may set it to ourselves and to others in our turn.
So we live in a permanent, internal and external, state of insecurity, where acceptance and love for us always depends on some factors posed by others. So we are never accepted fully and we are always loved under conditions, that is, by criteria that someone sets as valid and true... for them!
If we have learned to love conditionally in general, then do we also love ourselves conditionally?
Is there any part of us that does not deserve our love? If so, what is that part and why exactly is it not worth our love?
And somehow the whole construct of 'conditional' love collapses and it is revealed that it was just an edifice, a construct.
Just as it is not healthy for there to be any part of us that does not deserve our love, so there is or there is not a part in others.
There may be behaviours of others that anger us, sadden us, challenge us, trouble us, we do not understand them, we do not want them, etc, but this does not make them unworthy of love. These behaviours may have been created due to conditional love within other environments and dynamics. A series, that is, of other criteria that the specific person had to follow in order to be loved and accepted by those around them.
Extending this thought, we understand that we end up existing as half-halves, fragmented, illiberal parts of an inhomogeneous whole, constantly rejecting each other, both internally and externally, because we somehow learned what is and what is not worthy of love. Layers upon layers of programming of values and behaviours that is!
Some of us have had the good fortune to live in other societies or to look for alternative possibilities of this and through hard work and self-search we have come to the conclusion that all this dichotomy only does harm. The fact that there are people who do not make the same choices as others, or that they want to exist in a different way from someone else, even in ways different to the majority, does not mean at all that the former or the latter are wrong or unworthy of love for what they are and do.
Of course, actions that harm someone physically or mentally are reprehensible, but shouldn't we finally discuss how a member of a society decides to do such an act? Maybe someone have shown them that it is OK to do so? Is an act of violence towards another being an indication and proof of the existence of violence internally, but also of the existence of hidden, collective violence;
The rejection of a member of society for their choices that do not agree with the choices of the majority is a form of violence in itself; it is the act of non-Love, non-acceptance, hatred towards another person and the way they choose to express themselves and live. If someone from a group of friends is moved by a movie that his friends are not excited about, does this makes them strange, freak, hypersensitive, 'softie' and so on?
A person who really loves themselves do not need to turn against any other person, except, of the possibly to defend themselves.
They understand that they are part of the global community of humans who are in constant interdependence with one another and no other person is superior or inferior in value to themselves.
Any attempt to control, attack, criticize, ignore, manipulate etc. other people, indicates only either insecurity or arrogance, both very flimsy foundations to build one's life on.
They are also characteristics that indicate a problematic relationship with self-love. In the first case there is a deficit and ,in the second case, there is an unnecessary surplus.
Any criticism, therefore, does not indicate something about the person being judged necessarily, but more about the person who criticises and their relationship with acceptance and love in general.
It is indicative that many people during the holy days of Easter go to church and participate in Masses and, at the same time, despite the imperative of the days for love and forgiveness, they continue to turn with words and acts of hatred and malice, against other people, as if the existence and application of love concerns only specific things and people.
The more I reflect on love, the more I am inclined to conclude that it is a universal feeling that exists as a possibility in all people towards all living beings and, at the same time, is a constant struggle, conflict and process of oneself towards higher spiritual lessons.
Love, like all emotions, signifies the way we relate to ourselves and to the world. If we feel insecure, that is, we will constantly be afraid that someone will want to harm us and, consequently, we will be in constant defence.
Also, love always has an object. We love, that is, something that we consider to be of value, that it is beautiful, that has a positive quality and, overall, makes us feel nice and calm. Even the love that one can have for an unhealthy habit, such as smoking, however oxymoron it may sound, is basically related to a positive feeling, that of satisfaction, recurrent ritual, the "filling" when something is taken in, the balancing of tension, etc.
In this sense "love" means listen, respect, understand, accept, embrace, support, help, explain, reward, expand, include, forgive, endure, insist, claim, connect and so much more, because it relates to an inner need and state of being that seeks satisfaction and fulfilment. Challenging course of action that require constant effort. Most of the time, it is not about someone else, but, mainly, about ourselves.
How often do we adopt and act upon this attitude towards ourselves in order to do the same towards others as well?
If we do not commit to love ourselves daily and practice love towards ourselves, then we will desperately seek someone, a parent, a child, friends, romantic partners, temporary lovers, etc. that they are going to do it for us, like they're responsible, like they owe it to us. But what we ask them is to fill in a gap the resides within us, a need, the lack of attention, appreciation, love and for this very reason, we, then, become the prey of others, because with the possibility of losing them, we feel that we will lose this love and satisfaction and then it is us who need to have to learn to love ourselves.
These are the mechanics of codependence, where one bears the complementary part of the other, and completeness comes only through the relationship with the other. Otherwise, we feel empty and alone, which is why we end up accepting and participating in situations that are ultimately problematic and damaging for us, in order not to lose that contact with the love and fullness the codependent relationship brings to an extent.
But in reality, love exists within us and concerns primarily the relationship with ourselves. This is where spiritual lessons come in as a challenge for a deeper relationship with ourselves and by extension with others. Because we are called, beyond what we have learned and programmed to be, to rewrite the script of our lives, to create a new construct, to learn to love and care for the darkest, most confusing, most unacceptable, most unknown, wildest and 'ugly' parts of us that no one has ever done so and, ultimately, cannot do for us. Even if a thousand other people tell us that they love something specific about us, if we do not acknowledge it, "embrace" it and love it, then it will remain in the realm of the rejected, inactive and distorted parts of ourselves.
This does not mean that we have to do all this on our own!
Healthy, adult and mature love also exists and flows in relationships of mutual interdependence with others. Where both parts find acceptance, just as they are, but also the space to evolve towards whatever path their heart calls them.
Fear, insecurity, internal oppression and restriction, obedience to the rigid rules of societies are the advisors that will always lead us to more "safe", contradictory, incompatible and illiberal choices and actions.
I see it all the time in the therapy room, people who have been struggling for years between the series of 'musts' that they learned and the 'wants' that their hearts longs for; all those parts of them that have not found love and have been twisted into various painful forms to find some way to remain alive.
It is a journey, yes, but it is also a pity that souls leave this world with so much darkness and lack of love within them!
When will we learn to truly and deeply love ourselves and each other?
The celebration of Easter will always remain a symbolic process that will invite us, beyond the holidays and the food festivities, the temporary pleasures that is, to reconsider our relationship with unconditional love, with selflessness, with forgiveness, with 'open arms', with the deepest essence of our lives, with the uplift of our souls again and again until the truly meet God within us.
Looking The Enemy In The Eyes
It's been a while since I last wrote an article and that's because a lot of things were and still are 'in the air' and it's often difficult to decide on a specific topic for discussion.
As I've written before there's often a lot going on in our lives and it's hard to put things in order or organise it in a satisfactory way. We may have anxiety, stress, fear and agony about what will happen, especially in times like the current one, where extraordinary circumstances have destabilise many of our activities so far, but also our beliefs.
My message this time also is about love.
I will again borrow parts from my reading of 'Greek psychology' to discuss how repressed emotions and behaviors associated with them, form entrenched social behaviors, beliefs and dynamics.
Greek society, like any society, operates largely on the basis of specific role models. The specific behaviours expected from a man and from a woman, the habits, the emotional reactions and expectations. Someone adapting to them brings about reward, love, peace and acceptance somewhat as the owner rewards his dog with a delicacy when exhibits the desired behaviour.
Somehow we become programmed to be good or bad, emotional or strong, courageous or fearful, lonely or sociable, dative or selfish, anxious or calm, adequate or inadequate and so on. All these signs become day by day and unconsciously our identity, our character, who we are. And it is always in the form of dipole, one or the other.
What child does not want the love of his parents and the security that comes from being rewarded and accepted by them?!
But what if the child's desires or needs do not agree with the expectations and dictates of the parents'? Then two things happen: either the child finds the strength to disagree and argue with their parents risking losing their love and support or they are silent and find solutions that are the compromise between their own desires and needs and those of their parents. In this way the child is oppressed and 'separated' from various parts of themselves, but continues to have the support and love of their parents for what they show them to be and need.
This creates a persona, a different character from the true one, a new person. This second strategy is, based on my observation, the prevailing one in Greece. From parents who dare not to argue with their own parents in order not to 'spoil' their relationships, from homo and bisexuals who live double lives in order not to upset the 'balances', from women who are not happy in their marriages and do not claim their desires, but also do not leave their marriages, from homosexuals who obsessively have sex with other partners because commitment, contact and acceptance are unknown words etc.
These are some examples of behaviors that for me denote not only individual but also collective morbidity. Omerta, the silence of oppression, unfreedom and Lies continues from generation to generation until a family member becomes physically or even mentally ill, someone loses their life, someone begins therapy, someone attempts to break the vicious circle of unhappiness etc.
Perhaps we all agree with the widely said: 'life is a gift'!
But what kind of gift? A gift immersed in insecurity and lies, lack of freedom and hidden desires, consolidation and absence of evolution, lack of love for oneself and others?
The paradox is that both those who decide to 'conform to stereotypical projects, but also those who rebel, they both 'boil in their own juices', because their behaviours to a degree are identified by and become a response to the opposite position.
'I want to say it's enough now, but then what will they say about me or who will I be next?'.
'I want to make my life the way I want it, but I also want everyone to accept me as I am.'
Each option has a certain cost, whatever option it is. This is the whole lesson of life in physical form, that all the time there are certain limitations. So we are called to transcend the mundane and look deeper into our being and this always concerns others. We are all one in this together!
The age we live in is a transitional one, whether we want to admit it or not.
The transition has to do precisely with the death of perceptions on a personal and collective level. Especially in Greece, historically, we have lived and still living with 'the virus of division' for many years. The main cause is this very one, that we have never left sufficient room for the 'other opinion,' for the other way, for the other person who does not resemble us, who is different, who feels and wants to live otherwise. And that's because we, the same ones who reproach each other for being different, have not dared to make our revolution in the face of any shackles. We did not argue with our parents, we did not risk, we did not dare to live as we want, so how dare anyone else do it?! We have also never dared to make our personal transcendences, to really find the meaning for us and not to follow the already given path of creating family and children, that largely reassures the existential questions inherent in more or less everyone.
In the aftermath, a rhetoric and feelings of hatred are born and maintained that keep a society captive and static to stampede. Simply because all the energy goes either to war against someone or to defend oneself or to avoid both at all cost (drink, sex, extramarital affairs etc). Like two kids who are constantly fighting and there is no adult in the room to try not necessarily to reconcile them because this is the result of choice and work, but to show a peaceful way of coexistence. that they can coexist as different without abusing each other.
A simple everyday example is the way the majority of Greeks drive: while there are laws and rules, very often some people violate them, either by defying signs, or by parking illegally putting themselves and others at risk, but also by exercising a kind of violence on their fellow citizens since they do not take into account the other and the rules they have both agreed to abide by law.
At the same time, there is no 'adult policing' to enforce the agreed law and, thus, to maintain the normality of society. Situation that brings about second-level trauma, because not only is violence exercised, but also, because it is not punished, it continues to exist like a nightmare that it will continue to be constantly exercised.
I do not claim to have all the answers and solutions.
But what I know for sure, and I see it constantly working with people in depth, is that when we open up to the truth of our souls as difficult and painful as it may be, then we find peace, serenity, understanding, freedom and love in us both for ourselves and for others.
This is the whole journey of self-awareness described by therapists to doctors, coaches and gurus, the exploration and release the soul from its bonds.
Societies being in a war of whatever form, and by extension in lack of prosperity, it is not due to their temperament or temperament, but because they are constantly living with the 'virus of threat and disrespect', they have not found the way and strength for their citizens, internally and externally, to recognise, express, hear, feel, forgive, understand and love all their parts.
In this sense the enemy will always live firstly within and then outside of us!
In & Out of the Impossible
We live in strange times for the planet.
In many countries we are just coming out of a strict lockdown, where for months we had to sacrifice our freedom in order to remain healthy and untouched.
However, something indeed has happened and the least we can do is to acknowledge rather than pretending that nothing happened.
The appearance of the virus has proven loud and clear our vulnerability or better we were reminded of it. Physical existence comes with vulnerability. We are sensitive organisms that are flexible and well adjusted, but at the same time can be easily harmed and damaged. On top of that, we can easily die due to an accident or a deadly illness.
The closest we get to their death or the death of a loved one, the more we make realisations about our lives or have the opportunity to do so, at least.
From a spiritual perspective the virus, manufactured or not, did not appear 'by accident' right now. Human kind has been walking an arrogant road for a while now, where we assumed that the whole existence is here to serve us and this is not true. We coexist with nature and one another. No one is superior or inferior to the other.
The threat of the virus and the way we have been managing it, has shown us that life is much bigger than what we thought it was. This is how human spirit develops.
We were used to go on and live our lives unaware. Unaware of the impact of our choices to the planet and to others, unaware of our deepest nature and desires, unaware of our purpose in this life.
Within the earth plain and as physical existences we operate within limits. Our bodies are limited, our physical energies are limited, our planet's resources are limited, but we have been living with the misbelief that they are unlimited.
This is one of the main paradoxes of our lives on earth. We are unlimited, endless, formless souls having a physical, limited, form-specific experience.
We can either integrate this appearing contradiction or we can continue choosing to ignore it, ignoring simultaneously the benefits of such integration.
I observe more and more people recently, following this 'crisis', changing their lifestyle, choosing more healthy habits, making career changes, breaking up from unfulfilling relationships, falling in love with people that they thought they never would and forming new, more meaningful connections. In other words creating a new, more improved version of themselves.
Collectively, we went through 'hell' experiencing an unknown global threat that could deprive of us from the most important thing, our lives and our happiness. We stayed indoors to protect ourselves from contaminating one another, from hurting and threatening one another and, yet, at some level we have been doing that for so long.
We have been depriving people from food and education, depriving people from their human rights to live the life they want to live, depriving people from their own lives by deciding to neglect or even take their lives. For the quantum physicists it is known for years now that the universe is a matrix. What we do, believe and act upon is mirrored back to us and the universe knows all the best ways to do so magically!
Ask all these people who became ill from an autoimmune or a mental health or other diseases, who self medicate with alcohol and drugs, who hide from their partners, their family and their friends the truth of who they are. They are going to tell you the same thing, if they are brutally honest, that they have been neglecting themselves, that they did not (know how to) love themselves enough to create meaningful and fulfilling lives.
When we truly love ourselves and connect deeply with our existence, then it is impossible not to love others; it is impossible not wanting the best (and actively trying to make it happen) for every human being and the living beings as whole, it is impossible not to look after our planet. It is like telling a mother not to love her children. Maybe she does not always love them equally, because she is human and has her own temperament, but she loves them all in some way.
As equal parts of one whole, the One, we are brothers and sisters, we are cohabitants, we are co creators, we are all providers and receivers, we are all strong and vulnerable, all together and separate, all unique and alike, all beautiful and ugly, all god-like and devil-like, all attractive and appalling. But all alive and all with inherent capacities to thrive!
Really, a soul has no fixed boundaries, we can be attracted to anyone that we connect with, we can become whatever we want in order to experience something new, there is no end to this desire to experience. The boundaries are only being set by our physicality and the identification with what we think we are.
Until we realise that, we will keep hiding behind identities, limitations, stereotypes, unlived lives, lies and so on, completely unaware of all the possibilities and the beauty that comes from living freely.
With every article I am trying to process a subject, alleviate a pain and share my process of understanding (their) existence.
The starting point is often a troubling feeling that does not allow me to rest or be in peace. I know I have to follow that feeling until it takes me to a place of understanding and, therefore, peace. It is like being with a snake that until you know how it operates, you will still feel under its threat!
Today, I have encountered the snake of 'responsibility and self abuse'. A powerful and vicious snake whose venom is significantly more powerful and subtle than others'. I know this snake quite well. I do not know if it comes from, but it definitely flourishes in Greece.
How else one can explain the continuous conservatism that keeps popping up and ruling this 'in between' country? 'In between' because it simultaneously belongs to East and West, two opposites of the spectrum of physical existence.
I think I have extensively described in previous articles how the modern Greeks- in their majority at least- have been behaving like irresponsible adolescents who refuse to grow up and create an adult life. They constantly accuse someone else for things that they also have responsibility, they always call someone else to help them when their decisions have gone bad, they mainly want to have fun and an easy life, they mainly want to feel joy and not all these other negative feelings, they want to be liked and free, not seeing that these two do not always go together, they avoid at all costs any consequence for their actions and so on.
Like a 'caring parent' I have been extensively trying to understand the reasons behind this behaviour and find ways to respond to it in an impactful and mature way. Today while contemplating the tolerance that Greeks show to all the totalitarian rules that have been imposed to them for a while now, I had a revelation! The (collective) greek soul suffers from the 'Stockholm syndrome'.
'Stockholm syndrome' was named after a robbery in Sweden in 1973 where 4 people were kept hostages for 6 days by the robbers. Upon their release they refused to testify against their captors and even helped to raise money for their defence. It is the syndrome where an abused person over a period of time develops feelings and bond for their abuser. Psychologists and medical professionals defined it as a psychological response, ''a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation'' (www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#history).
How is that related to Greek psychology? Think of yourselves as being for decades under the illusion that there is progress in your country, that everybody is having a better life, that there is evolution and development on all levels of society and so on, while at the same time there is huge governmental corruption, lies, abuse of power, stealing of public money, denial of human rights and so on. These are two different realities. On the one hand, you would feel so elevated, free, powerful and, on the other hand, powerless, cheated, fooled and depressed.
This is the wonderful schizoid position that greek psyche has been experiencing for a while now.
For decades politicians have been asking for our votes with the same lies over and over again and we have been electing them over and over again. It is clear to me now that we must feel like hostages of a political system that is responsible of our lives and we have developed feelings and bond with them as a mechanism to cope with the continuous trauma.
A hostage is petrified and powerless, their life depends on someone else against their will.
When someone is held in captivity they have two options, either protest and fight for justice and freedom or succumb to the power and play a dark and dangerous game in order to achieve one day the desired release. Both strategies have consequences, for example, if someone fights for their freedom they might get killed. The latter strategy, however, can be proven dangerous in a different way as the hostage might indeed forget the desire for freedom and end up being an 'own will hostage'. 'Own will' because the situation they live in might have acquired some meaning and benefits for them, losing sight that overall the situation is restricting them.
When money kept coming in, almost everyone became corrupted in Greece. It is like a 'parents away' weekend, where of course adolescents will constantly drink, take drugs and party. That weekend lasted for decades in Greece!
Eventually, the parents were forgotten and it became a toxic situation where alcohol and drugs became a normal, self abuse routine.
We stopped questioning the authorities, stopped constructively criticising decisions, stopped asking for justice, honesty and transparency, stopped knowing what is right and wrong for us. We gradually became numb, confused, sedated because of the guilt that we also have been partying (and voting), so how can we accuse someone else?.
We learned to be part of this opportunistic omerta as opposed to investing in our own and our children's future.
I am surprised again and again when people in social media just repeat governmental discourses omitting information which change the picture completely. It it like living in a cave for so long and not even imagining to look at the direction of light; imagine how threatening that must be, how life changing!
Here I am not referring to any particular political party, but the mechanism of denial and unilateralism for anything different that threatens the story we have been telling ourselves.
The most difficult thing to comprehend is that the same mechanism operates, firstly, internally. As family bonds are one of the strongest values in greek society, we do not get angry with our parents in fear of upsetting them and losing their love, we do not tell and show them who we are in fear of rejection and loss of support, we do not disagree and face the consequences in fear of being alone and separate from the unit.
We end up becoming our self hostages and oppress ourselves day in and day out. We learn to believe our stories that we are who others wants us to be. We identify continuously with the victim, because we forgot that we are also the perpetrators of ourselves and often of our loved ones.
Back again to another vicious circle where there seem to be no end to it.
When I searched for a solution, a way out the main thing that came to mind was... forgiveness.
Maybe that is that is holding us back from admitting our mistakes, our weaknesses, our faults, our omissions, our actions. Yes, we have been hurting ourselves.
Governments and public decisions are only one external symptom, the disease lives much deeper within us and this is where the healing and catharsis need to take place.
Forgiving ourselves is the ticket back to ourselves, to our wholeness. We are humans, we are prone to mistakes, we do not know everything, otherwise there would be nothing to learn in life. We are also humans when we admit our 'wrongs', when we admit that our actions hurt ourselves and others and take responsibility for these actions.
Forgiveness means to to be brutally honest, to understand ourselves and offer them choices, to acknowledge what is not serving us anymore and be brave to change route, to give them the life and opportunities they deserve beyond the restrictions of the past. To offer all these thing to other people too.
The ultimate responsibility is indeed towards ourselves and our individual souls.
Did we do our best? Did we love ourselves and others enough or we just took advantage of everything for our pleasure? Did we give our hearts' fights or we went for the easy ride?
Did we strive for what was important for us or we followed what was important for others?
Did we forgive and, yet, punish the captors or we continue to live codependently with them fearing that if one is punished, then we are going to be next without end to it?
Do we dare to clean our soul from its burdens and let it travel wounded, proud and shinny or do we continue to hurt it by pretending that is clean, functional and 'together'.
Born to Be wild and Wild
Today I will attempt to combine a few important topics that I feel are currently present before our eyes and, yet, somehow hidden from really being seen.
'Soul' is not an easy term to define as there is a mystical element to it. We can attempt to understand a soul like a formless sponge that constantly absorbs and releases elements from and into its environment. Like every living organism it operates with an 'input' and 'waste' process. It is made of specific material (qualities) such as hardness, density, colour, smell and so on. Through various interactions and processes these qualities continuously change, hence, we can say that soul is a dynamic being rather than a static and fixed one.
Every experience and the related feelings have an impact, a consequence on that 'sponge'. The action we take to respond is just the top of the iceberg. It is the partial manifestation of one's internal world and not his whole world. It is the way that someone is able to be present in that situation.
The experience and the feeling that comes from the initial experience interact with the existing structure of the sponge and in some way they affect it. Its impact can be permanent or temporary, deep or shallow, manageable or overwhelming and so on. In any case, there is a change, the experience has left its mark and became part of the history of transformations that this soul is going through.
It is really magical if we think about it, that with every experience we alter, we become someone new, a new consistency, a new arrangement, a new potential!
Based on this new consistency we respond to that experience and the subsequent ones.
Through action one exercises their strength, power, force onto something. We show ourselves, we make ourselves known, through our actions we exist.
We, also, exist through our internal experiences, our internal world. When someone's experiences, feelings and actions are not being seen and acknowledged by themselves and/or someone else, then it is like they do not exist. Imagine there is a child who attempts to make contact with their environment το express their needs, their feelings and there is no response to them from their parents. What happens then?
There is no mirror, no acknowledgment, no light shed on their darkness, they remain hidden in their caves. mainly physically alive.
This child will grow into an adult with very little, if any, contact with their deep inner experiences and their impact on their soul; with little, if any, contact with the respective experiences of other people, bound into a limited world. This limited internal world, consequently, they will manifest outside, with their thoughts, feelings and actions they will represent their internal reality.
Can you see examples of this in today's world?
Maybe how we have prioritised money over other values such as health and education?
Maybe how we still consider some people less worthy with less rights than us?
Maybe how we often treat one another with severe judgment and lack of respect?
All of us, whether we are aware of and honour it or not, we have the potential of a very rich internal and external life. If having such life is one of our values, then, I imagine we will consciously try to nourish it, to feed it, we will sow and reap again and again, no matter how hard this might be. We will take ownership of our field of existence, our soul and appreciate it by keeping it alive, well maintained and growing.
For whatever reason, this might not be the goal for everyone on earth. Some people might prioritise other things such as survival, accumulation of wealth, pleasure and so on.
It is their exercise of freedom to do so, it is their right and it is the right of other people to prioritise other values.
What happens then when these two sets of people live side by side?
They can choose to live separately, they can fight endlessly or they can come into a baseline agreement.
We can find ourselves feeling angry and hating someone for what they represent, what they have done or not done to us and rightly so, if that experience has caused some adverse change to our soul and the way we exist the world: we may be hurt, maybe we became less trusting in people, maybe we are more afraid that hurt is going to happen again and so on. These feelings create a dark impact on our soul, that life is dangerous and people can hurt us at any time. However true that may be, we can also decide to still risk to trust other people fulfilling that way our desires, without letting past experiences determining our future decisions.
On a instinctual level the child that is not being seen for what they experience and express, they scream and shout, they demand what they deserve, they do not give up until they succeed in what they want. This is the wildness of children that we often silence with sweets, with blaming speeches, with quieting imperatives and so on.
We often do so because it reminds us of our tamed wildness that we forgot in order to live a modest and conventional life.
It is the sum of all these supressed wildness' that succumbs to 'higher powers' and restrictions, that tells other people that what they are doing when they are protesting is wrong, what they are doing when they are creating a different life than ours is worrying, what they are doing when they are suggesting something new is futile.
A soul like everything else is not necessarily good or bad in itself.
It rather flourishes when seen and loved or diminishes when hidden and hated!
When is being seen and loved, she does not have any reason to attack or restrict herself or anyone else, because she knows how important freedom and respect are for her.
When is being seen and loved, she does not impose other people to sit still, because she knows how important moving through is.
When is being seen and loved, she does not tell anyone else who and how to love and who not, because she knows the expansion of love.
When is being seen and loved, she can accept survival, failures and lessons as important parts of life as she appreciates hers and everyone else's lives as they unfold.
Being wild does not live in extremes as we have been told by our collectively tamed sides.
Wildness is a necessity of the soul, one of the materials of the 'sponge'. It wants to be free to express itself, to explore, to become, to interact, to learn and grow through experience life and others. Otherwise, she becomes miserable, resentful, ugly, disappointed, lost and dead.
This Wildness goes beyond the wildness and demands of the child into the encounter and unity with one's true and free nature and Self.
When was the last time you listened to your Wildness?
Misleading Love: Abuse
Greek society continues to be shocked by the constant revelations of people who experienced as minors or adults sexual harassment and/or abuse by people of power in their field.
There is no doubt that such behaviours, especially when it comes to minors, are unacceptable and deserve punishment. I do not think there is anyone who characterizes these acts as right, honourable and moral or who does not seek the punishment of those who committed them. Not only for the Justice of the victims, but also for setting an example for those and others to avoid similar incidents in the future.
My comment here is not about something that, for me, is obvious, the condemnation of actions, but that hidden, the 'in between the lines', that eludes us to make the picture whole (if such a thing can ever be achieved). Greek society has a tradition of avoiding its 'blind spot', things that are difficult and does not know how to cope with.
I have been listening for days to the descriptions of the victims, the comments of journalists who have taken on the role of a detective (they do not do justice, but collect evidence for it!), the opinions and thoughts of people who have some public fora including social networks. I let it all pass through me like a machine that has learned from meat to make mince and remove the stain from clothes for the sake of truth and personal wisdom, If you wish.
What I don't hear or don't hear enough is (again) individual and collective responsibility.
You may describe me as obsessed with responsibility, but I consider it perhaps the most important factor that defines an adult, that is, a mature person who has some skills to manage their life and its adversity effectively and to their advantage.
Minors were raped and abused for years in society, under and inside its 'nose', when it was feasting on entertainment and hunting how to make more money.
I repeat that I do not take a moment's attention from the criminality of the acts, but I ask: where were the parents, teachers, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbours, principals, etc.? How does a society preserve the health, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, of its underage and adult citizens? How does it happen that for years children find the strength to lie to their families about where they were going, but did not find the way to tell them the truth, which they may not had understood how much it hurt them, but still was the truth the were experiencing?
I find it extremely difficult to imagine this happening to my little brother and not to have understood something. Not because I am intelligent or enlightened, but because I had my eyes there, on a person I love while he was at a tender age, I was talking to him, trying to understand how he thinks and what might concern him (in general).
In general, it is easier to condemn someone as the' problem', the' Black Sheep', the ultimate culprit, forgetting that he too grew up and lives in the same society as all of us and feeds off its health and illness as we all do. We easily forget that we are all potentially capable of anything and that the 'monster' lives in a way within us all.
And we know that deeply, because we get so angry about things like that. Because to some extent we are trying to cover up what we did not do altogether to prevent it from happening, but also making the assumption that civilization, or human domestication, is not a one-off, but a continuous process.
I find it deeply hypocritical and pathological (as well as cathartic) that much of Greek society now zeroes in on people who previously had been 'gods' and worshipped. Yes, it didn't know what they were doing behind closed doors, but he didn't want to know. He heard suspicious whispers and never spoke about them. It's easier to put someone else's hand in the sewer than ours!
I am not interested in condemning anyone here, but I think it is important to stress the importance of responsibility and reflection. Abuse, whatever its form, is the violation of boundaries and is often presented as a' double message'. No abuser will say 'now I am abusing you', but will try to present their act as' right', either because it is the result of love, or because the victim will have some benefit from it, pleasure, career benefit etc. This is why often victims, especially minors, find it difficult to understand what is happening, because it is presented to them as an act of interest and love that contradicts with their own experience. That causes confusion, guilt, shame and so on.
In clinical terminology, neglect is also a form of abuse and it seems that in many cases this occurred as a second level of abuse to victims from their environment.
And it deeply hurts, individually and collectively, to think about, accept, incorporate and change that.
We did/do not teach our children to love themselves beyond and above all ambition and to stand up equal to every authority and to every power, if required.
We did/do not teach our children what it's like every moment to have choices, the choice to stay or leave a situation and define their own lives at all times.
We did/do not teach our children to exercise their own judgment, to trust their instincts and, most importantly, to trust themselves that they deserve to have what they want.
We did/do not teach our children to trust us and others close to them to share what happens to them, because we love our opinions, taboos and fears more.
We did/do not teach our children to claim respect, fairness, dignity and meritocracy, because there would always be a 'connection' who will bring the desired result for us.
We did/do not create robust rules, laws and safety nets where people can admit the 'wrong doings' and find justice and healing.
For these results, where the end justifies the means, we have for years maintained a society in moral decay and decadence which we now see its extent as it mirrors it back to us. The garbage that we see washed up in the sea and still do not collect, did not fall there but way long before.
It is indeed now an opportunity, not only for victims to speak out, not only for some people to be punished, but, also, to fundamentally examine and redesign our values and principles as a society and as a whole.
We have lived long enough in the lie of the role, it's time to embody our truth!
The Mask I Take Off
Interestingly, while I'm used to writing articles first in English, this one wants to be written first in Greek for some reason. Perhaps because it is very much about Greek society and my recent observations from it.
For some people it may be just moaning or useless thoughts, but I think it is important for one to think and reflect on what is happening around them, if they want to evolve.
In the last articles I have clearly written about my recent reflections around the power figures we are all surrounded by.
When we are children, our parents and family are in charge, all these "grown-ups" who constantly tell us what we should do, what is right and what is wrong and who we should be, if we want a place in society, in the family, in love, under the sun!
Later, 'power' becomes our pedagogues and teachers. All those 'serious' people who have studied and have something to teach us on a particular subject. We are, thus, called upon to learn the knowledge that they impart to us, and also learn to pay respect to the beholder (and beholders) of this knowledge.
Subsequent authority is our seniors at work, the managers who do (or do not) have more experience than us, who seem to know something more than us about the subject of our work or is in a position of responsibility to manage the progress and execution of a project.
I have been through all these aforementioned environments and have my experiences and opinions about to them.
The highest powers in a democratic state, at least, one would say, are the criminal justice for the violation of laws, the government for the execution of laws, and the parliament for the enactment of laws. This constitutes the framework of rules within which we all come together directly or indirectly to live as members of a society.
At regular intervals we elect people who will directly or indirectly administer the above powers for us for the benefit of society.
This is the macro level of society that concerns a lot of people, 'the big picture', if you wish.
But there is also the smaller image, the micro level, that we all experience in our daily lives, in our contact with each other, in our relationships, in our exchanges and so on. This level is partly related to laws and their application, but also is largely left to personal rules and a sense of justice and law.
It is really impossible to have a policeman for every citizen to impose the laws that were established for him and his fellow citizens, so that they live in peace and prosperity. But if laws are not been respected or passed to serve only one part of society, then whose responsibility is this? We know whose responsibility is their creation and enforcement, but their implementation?
The answer for me will always go back to the same: individual responsibility and ownership!
It is really impressive with how much hypocrisy people can live. They cry, get angry and furious when they are wronged and demand to be treated with respect when they themselves pollute the environment they live in or park their cars in the place where a fellow citizen could use to cross the street. They lament the hunger and misery of other people in the world, but they vote for governments that foster wars, sell weapons and repeat a nationalist hate speech towards other nations. They advocate justice, safety, health, but, through, their actions do the opposite on a personal and collective level.
Personally, I have found a certain peace in the thought that the 'game' here on Earth is not permanent for anyone. Even the most unjust, selfish, arrogant and dishonest person can do what they want but they will not live here forever (thank God!). So are their victims.
But everyone's actions leave imprints both on themselves and on others who will sooner or later experience their consequences, especially if they have some authority. Mostly they leave imprints on their own and on the souls of those involved who will take those eventually with them, largely what is referred to as karma, and contains the imprints of all, beneficial and painful acts.
In spiritual terms power alone has no master. Towards life (and to God, if you believe in) we are all the same. There are no poor, rich, powerful or powerless.
Only in this 'game' here on Earth we have created these conditions, because we need to understand what is it to control others or to be controlled by others.
Of course it takes some sort of hierarchy (role allocation) in a system to function effectively. The way the roles are played, however, and for whose benefit it is what separates a worthy leader from a not worthy one. The parent, the teacher, the manager, the government are mere managers of a person or situation for a specific period, not forever, and will, therefore, be assessed at some point by themselves and by others.
I'm not talking about the day of reckoning or the fear of hell. I refer to the knowledge of the Self as the only force and motive of life. I have worked with people who attacked or killed someone, while mentally unstable, and after years of deprivation of liberty and treatment, they were given a chance to have a freer life. Some have had a hard time admitting what they've done and acknowledging the pain they've caused someone. Some find it difficult to use this opportunity, because society and themselves are too different from each other to understand and respond maturely as an adult to their whole situation.
Similar may be other experiences, such as abuse (violation of boundaries) that only some members of society may have felt. How everyone connects to such a narrative is very personal and relates to their own experiences.
In no case, however, in a democratic and civilized society any violation of boundaries can be considered right. And, unfortunately, our societies have a long tradition of breaking boundaries at a macro and micro level.
Something similar happens when we comment on someone's choices or achievements. People are used to judging each other about who is 'more' or 'less' of something. This comparison would make sense, if we all had the same starting point, the same support, the same resources, the same temperament, the same desires, which is impossible.
Why, then, do we think it is right to compare paths and outcomes of people, when they bare little similarity to one another? Is it not a form of 'violation' when we can not see someone for their unique nature and with their special characteristics that they are made of?
Why do we expect people to act the same way in similar situations, when people themselves are not the same to each other?
The answer may be as simple as having learned to relate to anyone who is similar to ourselves. We don't care about the experiences and stories of others, so we stay at a safe distance for criticism. Or, worse, whatever difficulty we have not worked through from our own experiences, we project it to the other by changing ourselves from victims to abusers, also a long-standing problem, because no one is freed from this dynamic for generations and constantly continues to hurt new people, kind of like a virus!
Personally, I admire and connect more with people who have encountered and faced things, their darkness, their traumas, their diversity, their own selves, to get to where they have arrived - wherever that is - and less with those who follow the ready made path that they have learned from the dominant stereotypes of the society they live in.
We are all given (or chose) a place in the 'game' earth. Some people hold a more powerful position than others, but the rules of the game are the same for everyone: that there is an end, there is a setting and the rules are made by people.
This power of self defining and ruling, which always comes with a cost, can be so terrifying that often people prefer to permanently obey the existing authorities and the 'orders' of others losing sight of their own authority.
It is more difficult to seek to find the parent, the teacher, the manager, the governor, the priest in us, than to bow to the authority of others, even if they take us to our misery.
So who has the power over your life?
Who makes decisions about it?
Who implements them?
What values do you want to live your life by?
How do you feel about the values that now prevail in the society you live in?
What are you doing about it?
What kind of society would you like your child or someone you love to live in?
What soul prints would you like to leave here and not take with you?
What screams in your soul that you haven't heard and lived yet;
If you find the time and strength to think about these questions and the answers point in many directions, then you are probably living dissected among the two orphans of 'desires' and 'shoulds' who they have been looking for their parents!
Rest assured that when people are treated with respect and appreciation for who they are and what they want, they will always find their way to their higher selves and the light.
The Mask I Live In
It looks like the more we stay in lockdowns, the more interesting things happen.
The last few days it has been all over the greek media the revelations that men in authoritative positions have been abusing their power to molest and insult their male or female colleagues.
It seemed that the 'Aeolian bag' has opened and more and more people, mainly females, are coming out to talk about their verbal, physical or emotional abuse.
The 'why now?' question is often used in therapy to place a discussed issue within a context and give some perspective to the current situation, but I feel in this matter, the question is somehow irrelevant. Because 'now it is the time to speak freely and be listened to' lots of victims state. Maybe they are right, as it seems a good opportunity due to the mandatory introspection that the lockdowns impose and the subsequent realisations that come from it.
The whole issue became huge very quickly and reminded me of an article I wanted to write about celebrities and their influence.
I have been observing for many months now how various actors/actresses, tv presenters, singers and other famous people advertising through their social media various products, from snacks and cheese to sauce pans and cars. For a minute I thought we were back on the 90's where the ads during the tv were lasting longer than the actual programme.
I thought to myself: 'Could it still be happening? People actually are buying things that their favourite actors suggests them to?' and I stayed reflecting upon that thought for a while.
I can understand how people have the need to admire someone special, to get hope and courage from people who have achieved something quite big in their lives, but the extent to which that occurs it is not easy for me to comprehend. That was, also, exactly what I was thinking when I was studying mass media, communication and advertising: 'people do not know what they need and what they like and they need someone famous to tell them what to buy?!' And then I turned into psychotherapy...
I do understand that people need guidance. We need a teacher at school to pass on some knowledge, we need our parents as guides to show us what is good and bad in life in early ages, they are responsible to keep us alive and somehow functional, content and maybe happy. We later on get our first jobs and there is someone senior who 'knows better' and has been in the job for longer than us. We admire this person and look at them with awe as they have accomplished something that we want to accomplish too, to become successful by mastering our art, whatever that is!
There is nothing necessarily wrong with having role models and people who we admire. We actually need those people as helpers to shed some light in our paths. Usually, these people hold qualities and achievements that we want for ourselves too so, through them, we connect to the possibility of happiness and success.
What happens, though, when their values are opposite to ours? What happens when the very same person that we look up to and respect, approach us in a way that crosses our personal and/or professional boundaries? What do we do then?
I imagine that we feel shock, conflict and disappointment that the person that was an important figure for us, turns out to be someone that not only we do not like, but also that we have to defend against. Our guide becomes our threat, an enemy that we need to assert ourselves in front of and set our clear boundaries; us that we are the 'newbies', the 'newcomers, the 'novices' in work and life.
I would. also. imagine that some people would assert themselves immediately and leave the situation or place, or fight it until they find justice and peace within themselves.
Some other people might do nothing, because they need the job or they fear to challenge the authority, feel confusion, shame and guilt for what has happened accusing themselves for even slightly provoking the situation.
The root cause in both the aforementioned situations for me is similar, 'the ownership of the inner authority'. Especially, but of course not exclusively, the greek mentality assumes that a parent, a teacher, an authority, a celebrity are not to be questioned as they are experts of some sort. This automatically leads to an internalisation of that figure as superior, 'they know something more to be calling me names' etc. Utterly bullshit!
When we think that someone is better than us because of their position, their knowledge, their experience, their looks, their achievements etc is like we give them the power to exercise it on us as they please.
I am not talking here about respect. Respect is a very healthy value that a person can earn with their actions and everything they stand for.
I am talking about our own view of ourselves. Luckily over the years, there have been improvements and we are not, for example, hitting children in schools like our parents used to experience in order to become 'good people'.
Passing knowledge and values through fear or harsh behaviours feels so outdated and it has clearly proven that it hurts more than does good. It, actually, hurts in multiple levels, the most important for me being that the person loses connection with their own authority. They learn right from the beginning that they are here to obey their parents, their teachers, god, whoever have some sort of power. Of course, following the tactic of fear, imposing and punishment, we either create obedience or resistance.
Obedience creates 'slaves' and people who learn to put other people's needs before their own.
Resistance creates 'rebels' who are constantly arguing against authority, power and their opinion.
Both extremes can be problematic for an individual and they come with a split into their consciousness where an unexpressed part is being projected onto someone else (good or bad) outside.
A 'healthy' and free adult is someone who can exercise their own free will to choose what they do based on their own values and not based on what they have learned 'should do'.
We are all incredibly unique and special, hence we can not have rules that apply to all of us without exceptions.
What we can learn and ask for, though, both from ourselves and the others is dignity, respect for our own beliefs, boundaries, values and desires on how we 'spend' ourselves.
It is this self authority that actually judges and decides whether an experience is for our own benefit or not, and then we can take the relevant action. It is this inner authority that can decide whether it is of value to us to buy the product that our favourite actor presents to us so idyllically.
It could be a life long process to realise what masks we are wearing, where they are coming from, if they fit us or not, choosing the mask that feels more like our authentic selves.
It is always a very personal choice...