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...