There are some families in the world that are filled with love and connection. These families’ work together, to support and assist each other and not because they have to; but because they want to. To them, family means much more than just a word or the DNA that may connect them to each other.
Here, there is no talk or suggestion of obligations and conditions needing to be fulfilled; what is done is done out of love and only love.
The above description is clearly an example of what the perfect family might look like. And let’s face it; how many people have that? To many people the above may sound like something out of story.
As well as the above example there is also the other end of the spectrum and of course somewhere in-between. I do not believe that that it is as simple as there being three categories. However for the purpose of this article I will keep it to these three.
The Other Extreme
So now that we have a description of what a functional family may look like, let’s take a look at what a dysfunctional family can consist of.
The modes operandi of this family is not love and it is not support either. Its whole foundations are built on obligation and control and fear is always in operation.
''In a dysfunctional family, the word 'family' is often seen as a license for abuse'' - Oliver J R Cooper
Different forms of abuse are seen as normal and acceptable and the people within the family are often viewed as possessions. There might be examples of tyranny in other countries in the media; but in this family, it is a lot closer to home.
The family that one is brought up around will go along way into defining how one sees themselves and how one sees the world. This is an environment that will go along way into shaping ones mental, emotional and physical health.
And this is because what we learn about ourselves and the world is usually set by what is going on in our earliest environments. How one was responded to and how the family behaved around others has incredible consequences. And these consequences have the potential to be experienced for many years after
Aware And Unaware Families
In each of these two examples what is clear to see is that the level of awareness between these two examples is radically different. And what is also clear is that how aware a family is will be a defining factor in how the child will be raised.
However, when the child is brought into the world and is exposed to the behaviour of the family; it does not understand the above. To the child everything that happens is taken personally. It does not have the capacity or ability at that time to see, that how it is being treated is a reflection of how the individuals in the family treat themselves.
And how they treat themselves will often come back to how their family behaved during their younger years. It might also be the result of what happened later in their life. An example of this is where one chooses to be different and not allow their childhood to define them. This of course depends on the individual’s awareness.
After all these years of conditioning; one now has an identity. If one was born into a family that was fairly aware or even moderately aware; then their identity has the potential to be reasonably empowering.
Here one would have received enough mirroring and validation to support them and therefore create a fairly functional self image. Although ones image can change through ones life, it is always easier to change that image if ones original image was fairly empowering.
This is because one is more likely to have the mental power and external validation to believe in oneself enough to change.
Now let’s focus on the family that has very little awareness, both individually and therefore – collectively. The chances that one was exposed to abuse and experienced abuse are pretty certain. So ones image is not only influenced directly, but also indirectly because of the family lack of awareness.
And this lack of awareness is what is leading to dysfunctional behaviour. This can be classed as the different kinds of abuse and could be: mental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual or physical abuse.
The important nurturing factors like mirroring and validation are then likely to be nonexistent. So not only will one have an identity that is completely dysfunctional, but one’s precious inner life will also be unknown or denied at this time.
So what happens now? After one has experienced a dysfunctional upbringing it is always going to create challenges. This kind of upbringing can define ones whole life. And it can also be defined in a way that is classed as positive or in a way that can be classed as negative.
Traditionally the family that was in born into is meant to be who they are. What one can achieve and what one cannot achieve is interpreted through the family that one was born into.
The upbringing that one has creates their story. And this story typically includes who one is and what one is capable of. Each of these aspects and anything to do with ones story is always based on the past. It has nothing to do with who one is at this moment. And this is where ones freedom and empowerment come from.
A Gift Or A Curse?
Above I mentioned how ones upbringing can be defined in a way that is positive or negative. This might sound a bit confusing; how can something so dysfunctional be positive? When one has these dysfunctional experiences there are clearly no benefits to what has happened. Taken literally there is clearly nothing positive about these kind of experiences.
The ego mind will also hold onto everything that has happened. Emotions like: anger, rage, frustration and pain that were experienced may well be felt as if they happened yesterday.
One is likely to feel the need for revenge and want to change the past in any way that is possible; constantly replaying the scenes in their mind. The ego mind will keep everything alive and never let it go. It then becomes impossible for to ever leave the past and be in the present.
To the mind the past will always be a curse. Like a dog with a bone, it will go over and over the past. And this is where the duality of the mind comes into play. On one side it feels wounded and hurt by the past; which creates the idea that it wants to heal and move on from it.
But the on the other side we see a very different story. Although these dysfunctional experiences have caused great pain and suffering, to the mind they are what is familiar. And the ego minds whole existence and identity is based on the past. They are familiar and therefore safe to the mind and it then becomes irrelevant as to what kind of experiences these were.
So even though ones past memories might be traumatic; to the mind they have become its whole identity. It would be interpreted as death to the ego mind to let them go. For as long as one has become identified to their ego mind it will be practically impossible to move on and it will become a curse.
Through the observing of one’s ego mind and processing the trauma from the past one can begin to move into the present moment. And this is a process that includes validated and acknowledging ones story. This story is not to be denied and it is not to be taken as the truth of who one is.
Here one can then start to view the past in a new light. The meanings that one gives their past will always be unique to them. One might view the past in metaphorical or in symbolic terms.
And from this place one may have the urge to offer ones insight to others that need it. One can also be an example to others in the way they behave and respond to life.
One might never know why they were born into a certain family and perhaps this doesn’t matter. What one can do is have the gift of awareness and this can allow one to define who they are and to no longer be defined by their past.
There are numerous religions in the world today; some of these have been around for thousands of years and some could be described as new in comparison. And as well as the religions that are clearly definable as religions, there are also other figures and establishments that are serving a very similar purpose.
However, these might not be noticed or perceived as having any similarities to religion.
Before we take a look at what these reasons could be, let’s look at the word religion and its meaning. In the dictionary the world religion comes from the Latin word Ligare and this means to bind.
So then, anything that connects one to something could be classed as a religion based on this meaning.
And as the saying goes ‘The map is not the territory’. Something can be called a religion, but that is just a word and it does not explain much of what is actually going on. It does not explain the psychology that is involved.
The word has gained a somewhat negative meaning over time and this is because of the behaviour of some of the people that have associated themselves with a particular religion.
Religion can be blamed; but it does not take away our own individual responsibility.
Is not important whether one believes in religion or not. The purpose of this is to look deeply at what might be attracting people to associative with religions and at the same time what needs this could be fulfilling within the person.
This is also not to say that what attracts people to religion is always dysfunctional.
It is just like when one is hungry; here one consumes food to appease the sensation of hunger. The desire to eat is not negative or dysfunctional; it is simply a part of life.
However, it would be sensible to look at why one is hungry and also what would attract one to certain foods. Sometimes these will be healthy foods and sometimes these will be unhealthy. One might be attracted to unhealthy foods, but instead of blaming the foods one can look at what is attracting them to the foods. This could be classed as being a conscious eater.
These views are my opinion and I do not claim to have all the answers or the only answers. My interest is not in the legitimacy of any religion or religion per se. What interests me is looking at the psychology of religion.
I believe that through the observation of how the ego mind functions, one will be able to gain a better understanding of religion.
The Ego Mind
This is the part of us that is conditioned by our experiences. Some of these can be traumatic and some of these can have very little effect on our lives. And what these experiences do is form how we perceive reality.
And the way it perceives life is though polarities. Here there are only ever two ways and the whole of life will be perceived through one of these ways. This is the good and the bad; the right and the worn and so on. Existence is then broken up into parts. Life becomes an expression of hierarchy and not wholarchy.
The ego fears change and this is because the only way it can function and exist is through things being the same. It feels safe with what is familiar. And if something were to change; it would mean death to the ego mind.
Its identity and only point of reference is the past and the present moment is always being interpreted based on past experiences.
One of the things that trauma does is create conflict and separation. One feels separate from what they desire and need. What the ego does is project these needs externally.
These needs can consist of the need to feel: connected, empowered, significant and safe; as well as the need for meaning and purpose.
So the ego mind has ultimately been created from pain and trauma. It is not a true expression of who one is. The true self is extremely different to the ego mind. Here one is also the observer of the mind and not the mind itself
But let’s forget about the true self for the moment and let’s continue with the ego mind. Here one has been cut off from who they truly are and is now living from the ego minds perceptions and projections.
A natural consequence is to project all of these needs and wants to an external source. And to the degree that one has not realised something within; will define how much someone looks without.
How Does This Usually Look?
It is not possible to look at every aspect here; so let’s look at the more common occurrences.
Higher Or Lower
With the mind working in polarities and higher being seen as better than lower, it makes complete sense for gods to often exist in the sky. This is because trauma can cause one to identify with their ego and feel inferior and below others. And if this happens and one feels inferior or below another, there will be the tendency to perceive others as being higher or superior.
As the ego fears change and therefore death it then becomes important for religions to promise an afterlife for example. This way the ego mind feels safe and can be sure that there is a tomorrow.
The ego mind also needs certainty and this is part of feeling safe. As if something is different it of course won’t feel safe. This also shows the importance of being right; as if the mind is wrong it could lead to death. And this surely shows why there is often the insistence on one religion being right and another religion being wrong. The individual’s ego is looking for external certainty to calm the uncertainty that is active within.
And if one feels separate from life and cut off internally because of trauma or perception, they will be drawn to anything external that promises connection and a sense of belonging.
Control And Empowerment
Religion is often seen as controlling. And through the different traumas, ones ego mind is likely to feel a lack of control and empowerment. One then needs to do or be more than others to compensate for this inner state. This often becomes a need to control another or others.
And a universal figure or archetype for empowerment is often the male or masculine figure. This of course, shows up in a lot of the different religions. The female or feminine energy typically represents nurturing; so that wouldn’t evoke the same experience that the male figure would do in people.
Purpose And Meaning
It is said that ones purpose and meaning is something one finds within. And is an expression of the heart and not the mind. However one of the things that conditioning and trauma does is cut one off from their heart. Ones attention is then more likely to be focused on the outside world and not on what is going on within.
So this would explain why religion is so popular in terms of purpose and meaning, it gives one what they have perhaps lost touch within or maybe haven’t ever known within.
It is my view that whatever the ego mind creates has very little to do with what is true. And this is because its primary function is to ensure ones survival. What it sees and what it needs from the world will usually be coming from what has not been realised within.
Because everything that is seen externally and this includes what is written in word and what is displayed in symbols, has come from a human beings mind. And this means that it has been filtered through their level of awareness and perception. This is what makes it important to observe the mind and to see how it functions.
That is not to say that religion cannot be a catalyst or a mirror for what is within each of us. It is my current understanding that what is true can only ever come from within. And perhaps there are some religions that do match what is true for people.
Not Just Religion
But let’s not leave this all to religion. As I have mentioned above, there are many things in the world that have the potential to fulfil the same purpose. These include: celebrities, the media, sports teams, governments and relationships.
They all exist because they are fulfilling a need; nothing more nothing less. Each of these external creations simply reflects what is going on within people’s minds and hearts.
During our lives we can have many relationships and some of these relationships can last for what feels like moments and others can seem to last a lifetime. It could be greeting someone we might never see again or embracing someone we will see many times.
These relationships can range from a childhood friends, colleagues, family members or a partner for instance. And no matter how old or young we are; what is clear is that we have all had relationships that have started and relationships that have come to an end. For these beginnings and endings are part of life.
Now, some of these may be relationships that we wish had never been started and relationships that we wish had never come to an end. But what life shows us is that we never know how long a relationship will last.
The Relationship That Lasts
However, there is one relationship that for as long as we live can never come to an end. We might wish it would end at times and deny this relationship at other times, but it still exists. And this relationship - is the one we have with ourselves.
And although our external circumstances can change and our external relationships can end; this is a relationship that is always ever present and in motion.
What I thought was a great metaphors for explaining this dynamic was a conversation that I had many years ago with my late father. I used to go to a martial arts club that was a short drive away from where I lived and this first began when I was at school and ended in my college years.
And to paraphrase what was said in this conversation: I said something along the lines of; it is was interesting how although I had left school and other experiences had come and gone in my life, what remains is me going to this martial arts club.
I recently thought about how this mirrors the relationship that we have with ourselves.
The Greatest Rejection
Even though it is possible for another human being to neglect, reject, betray, criticise and abandon us; it is also possible that we are doing these very things to ourselves internally.
We can feel overwhelmed and frustrated with these external relationships and then, follow that up with the abuse and neglect of ourselves. And one thing that is certain about life is that not everyone will accept us or respond in a way that validates us.
This is what makes it so important that we don't close the door on the relationship that has the potential to bring the greatest joy and fulfilment.
Relationship with Ourselves
The relationships that we have with others will only ever be as good as the relationship we have with ourselves. It is highly unlikely that our external relationships will ever surpass our inner relationship.
''Whether our life will rise or fall will depend on the quality of our relationship with ourself and as an extension of that - our relationships with others'' - Oliver J R Cooper
And one of the reasons why external rejection, abandonment and neglect for example are so painful is because these feelings often exist within. They are perspectives and outlooks that one can come to identify with. This is because during our childhood year's one is often rejected and abandoned and unless these experiences have been processed, they will lay dormant and have the potential to be triggered at any moment by the relationships that one has with others.
And if ones relationship with themselves is more or less nonexistent there will naturally be an over reliance and need for another. This can then lead to valuing another person more than one values themselves. Compromising ones needs and wants for another person.
Here ones loses who they are in the other person or people and only knows who they are based on the acceptance that comes from these external relationships. Ones emotional and mental state will completely depend on other people's behaviour.
When it comes to getting in touch with ourselves and in tune with who we are; it is not always easy. And this is often because of the ideas we have picked up from others. These ideas have then formed our perceptions of who we are.
This becomes our conditioned self or ego mind and creates our identity. However, what is true and what is real for us may not have anything to do with this conditioning. The only person that can say who we are - is ourselves.
So perhaps the only reason why we have neglected or rejected ourselves is because of the ideas we have about who we are. And these ideas have probably got very little to do with who we actually are.
Connection to our true selves is unlikely to happen overnight. And this is because like a tree or a plant that is just a seed; it takes time to open and expand onto the environment.
It is also normal for one to feel unsafe and vulnerable during the early stages of reforming this relationship. And this is because the ego mind has created an identity and formed an association of what is safe based on how things were. So as one changes their connection to themselves; their identity and therefore their behaviour will change.
This then has the potential to create conflict and resistance not only within, but also from without.
Being There For Ourselves
We can then begin to support ourselves from within. During the moments where we feel neglected or rejected externally; we can make sure that we are there for ourselves during these moments internally.
Our own capacity to mentally and emotionally regulate and sooth ourselves will also increase. And because our own self appreciation and self respect has increased for who we are, we will also be able to ask for help when we require it.
Relationships With Others
What will also occur are deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. As I mentioned above about our relationship with others always reflecting the relationship we have with ourselves; it is a natural consequence that the relationships we have with others will change as we change.
As are self integrity increases we will attract others who have integrity and by accepting who we are; it will allow other people to gravitate to us who accept us. The relationships in our life that don't honour who we are will also begin to change and perhaps even come to an end.
My current outlook to healing and processing is that, along with the individual's willingness to process their past, the other important element to releasing our patterns is to be assisted by someone who has achieved a certain level of presence. And that the processing (healing) technique alone is always secondary to the presence of the person assisting. This for me comes back to the saying ''we can't give what we haven't got''. So, if the person who is offering assistance has not achieved that which we are working towards; only a certain stage of processing will be achieved or the processing won't work at all.
The ability to hold the space is essential to this work. What I mean by this, is, that the individual who is assisting the healing has achieved a state of being; where they are able to be present and not become identified with the thoughts, emotions, feelings and sensations of the body and mind. And through this they are able to see the individual more for who they are, as opposed to the story that the individual has come to identify with. As a result of this process; the past that has remained stuck and frozen in the present, will begin to release and flow.
A Profound Example
An example that illustrates this perfectly is in the writing's of Grant Mcfetridge. In his groundbreaking book Peak States of Consciousness Volume 1, he mentions that during his empirical research, if someone had not healed a certain trauma in themselves, then when it came to assisting another, the process would always be sabotaged. As unconsciously they didn't feel safe to go there; due to the person that was assisting the process hadn't resolved it in themselves. So this is why they say it's always important to work on ourselves first, before assisting others or to at least have a certain level of mastery in what one is assisting another with.
A recent awareness I have come to, through many years of processing work, is that it all comes down to awareness. Away from the story of who we are and what we are capable of is our true nature. This might be called; pure awareness, the higher self or the universe for example.
Our story is something that we have lived with for our whole life, it is how we define ourselves and this is what makes it hard change. Even when it no longer makes one happy, it is still hard to let go. And this is because of how the ego mind works. The ego only knows itself based on what is familiar and this is what it then comes to identify with; because familiar means safe to the ego mind.
In the early stages we will find it hard not to identify with our story. So through this process of acknowledging and processing our pain, even though we are still identifying with it, it will enable us to begin to observe ourselves. As if we haven't processed any of our pain and are still completely identified with our own mind, it will be just about impossible to observe ourselves.
How Is Processing Different To Healing?
I now prefer to use the word processing as opposed to the word healing. This is not only because the word 'healing' has all kinds of connotations, and is not a word that people can usually relate to. It also does not articulate what is occurring. To heal something implies that what was broken has now been fixed or is being fixed.
However, as the saying goes - 'No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it' - Einstein. When our past is being processed it is not being fixed or changed; it is simply being accepted for what it is. As was said by Carl Jung - "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."
To try to change the past shows that the mind is trying to fix a problem with the same level of understanding that created the problem and that its main objective in doing so is to avoid suffering. This is what is often called decorating or painting the rotten door. Whereas by processing the past we become or should I say remember that we are the observers of the mind and not the mind itself.
As we go through life our past becomes trapped on frozen in our bodies and minds. This is often due to trauma and also because the original traumas in ones childhood are rarely looked at. And by observing these memories, and acknowledging them; the natural flow can reappear.
How And Why Does Processing Work?
A few months ago I read a book called 'why love matters' by Susan Gerhadt. Sue Gerhardt is a British psychoanalytic psychotherapist. In this book she talks about many different things to do with child development. And of the things she talks about is processing. For me this grounded the whole idea and explained why it works.
Healing on the other hand, can sound a bit airy fairy and as something those people do who are into spirituality or religion. And because of these labels, the whole reason of doing such work is minimized and dismissed. Processing on the other hand is neutral, and just as important as eating and drinking are to our own wellbeing. There is nothing air fairy, spiritual or religious about processing, it is a normal part of a healthy existence.
In this book she talks about how it happens and what happens when it doesn't happen. So I will do my best to paraphrase what was said and I will also add my own slant.
The left part of the brain deals with processing and sorting; it's a bit like a filling cabinet. Where our day to day experiences are sorted and put in the correct order. With the right part of the brain relating to the limbic drives; this is more emotional and doesn't operate with the same restrictions and structures as the left brain.
When our emotions are dealt with in a functional way, they are passed into the left brain and here they are arranged and put it to the right order or sequence of when they happened. However when trauma occurs they don't make it to the left brain and they stay unprocessed in the right brain. And because they are still there it causes them to erupt at any moment and at inappropriate times. This then makes it hard to be 'Present' and causes reactive behaviour.
So if the caregivers are in tune with their own emotions they will allow the child to express their emotions also and this will cause them to go through the left brains processing system. If the caregivers are not able to go there because of their own emotional repression for example, the child's emotions will stick around until they are processed through the left brain.
Imagine a filling cabinet with everything in order. Once the draw is shut nothing can be seen. If one wants to see a certain file they can open the draw, but this is a choice. This is what happens when processing has occurred. Now imagine a filling cabinet that has the files outside the cabinet and on top. Here they are constantly on one's mind; one can never escape the files. This is what happens when ones emotions are not processed.
This is why Sigmund Freud's 'talking therapy' was so effective and why talking to a friend or a therapist is effective. And this is because through talking and being aware of our emotions they are then processed. As I have stated above, what makes the difference is that a therapist is likely to be a lot clearer and centred than a friend and this leads to a higher level of processing.
Revealing who one is to others is not always easy and I believe that this can be due to two reasons. Firstly this can come about through not knowing who one is and secondly through the feeling that it is not safe for one to reveal who one is.
Both of these reasons can be the result of ones upbringing. This is because it is during this time that we come to learn what is safe and what is not. What we can do and what we cannot do around other people.
The caregivers that one is brought up by will usually have their own ideas about who one is and who one should be. Now, this is not necessarily negative and limiting in itself. How destructive this is will depend on how conscious and aware the caregivers are.
And this is partly due to the fact that the caregivers will always have what they like and what they done like. This means that they will naturally want to mould another person into their ideal image.
All of the parts that these caregivers have not acknowledged in themselves and have repressed out of conscious awareness will likely become projected onto the child. And as the child is so open and malleable at this age it will pick up and take on board more or less every projection that it receives from the people that it comes into contact with.
This is also because at such a young age a child doesn’t usually have the awareness or mental strength to question and dismiss the ideas and projections that are coming from another person.
What Is Safe
During this time the child is learning and coming to terms with what behaviours are safe and what are not. Seeing that some behaviour will gain the approval of its caregivers and some will not.
This is a process that will happen hundreds if not thousands of times during this Childs life. And each time it happens; what is real and true will become covered up by yet another layer of what is neither real nor true.
The Ego Mind
And while this is all happening externally; the ego mind will come to conclude what is safe and what is not internally. The ego mind functions on what is safe and what is safe is typically what is familiar.
So even though what it comes to associate as safe might have very little to do with ones true self, it will form a perception of what is safe based on these very early childhood experiences.
And what makes the need to be safe so intense is the result of what the consequences would be if one wasn’t safe at such a young age. If one were to be rejected and not approved of it would feel like death at such a young age. Here one has very little chance of survival without the care of an adult.
The Normal Route
It is then normal to be lead by the ego minds associations of what is safe. This means doing whatever will lead to the most approval and often behaving in ways that are likely to lead to being accepted by others. At First it was about pleasing ones caregivers and now it has become about pleasing different people in society.
And to feel the same acceptance from others as one did as a child can create short term fulfilment and alleviate ones internal fears that arise from not being accepted.
However, a sense that something is missing will not be very far away. And this is because gaining the approval and acceptance of another will never match the experience of doing what is right within and following ones heart.
After having experienced many years as a child and then as an adult of being there for another or doing what gains acceptance from others; it is only normal for one to feel disconnected from their own self.
Perhaps there have been moments or flashes when one has felt connected to who they are. But this can be something that is often fleeting and unable to be sustained for very long.
And if ones identity has been completely formed by what is not true or real; it will feel extremely difficult to change. This is because not only can one’s self image be inaccurate, but ones relationships’ and vocational choices could also exist to please other people.
The ego mind will then feel unstable at the idea of letting go of what is not true and what stands in the way of what is true.
While this is all going on the true self is waiting, waiting to be heard and waiting be expressed. It will not go away and neither will it be silenced. It waits until the time comes when one is strong enough to be one with it.
For it does not operate through fear or acceptance; as the ego mind does. It sees through these illusions and knows that one is already accepted and approved of. And that these can never come from another human being; they can only come from within.
Who one is can only come from within; it is not possible for another human being to reveal who one is. All they can do is give their interpretations, ideas and insights, but they can do nothing more. That is down to each one of us to find out.
The Burden Is Lifted
As one gradually becomes aware of what is true and is strong enough to be one with it; the burdens of having to be someone else will gradually fade away. Like a weight that one has carried all their life; it will begin to disappear.
The past will also begin to lessen its strength over ones present point of power; which is now.
The Journey That Matters
Doing what gains the approval and acceptance of another may be the easier option in the short term, but it is an option that can never bring fulfilment or true happiness.
And although the journey of following ones truth can be arduous at times; it is the journey that really matters and one that will lead to the greatest fulfilment.
For a number of years now different companies have removed sugar from their products and replaced it with other alternate forms of sweeteners. One of the products that are often used is aspartame. This is an artificial sweetener that has been found to be not only unhealthy, but also dangerous.
However, my area of interest and insight is not in the area of nutrition. So here I will explain what I believe are some of the psychological consequences.
The common approach of removing sugar and using another substance is to naturally encourage people to carry on buying their products. And as the amount of sugar contained is lower than it was before; it means that people can not only consume the same amount, but more of the product.
On the surface this sounds like a wonderful idea; to be able to eat the same amount or more with Zero consequences.
Here, one need not exercise any self control when it comes to eating. One can now let go and allow their cravings to take over. And this is without even looking at the question of why so much sugar is being consumed to begin with.
As well as the consequences this will have on one’s health, it supports the illusion that one’s actions have no consequences. And that one can do what they will without anything happening.
It also inhibits one’s ability for self control. One’s own ability to control is atrophied and this leaves one at the whim of their bodily cravings. This also means that one is both vulnerable and open to the marketing of the world.
Where Does It Go From Here?
One of the things that is going to occur and is occurring from this is that peoples own psychological development is being arrested.
The ability to have self control and to be aware of one’s actions having consequences then becomes unrealised.
On one side we have the fact that people are trying to sell products that are unhealthy and know that people often have very little self control. But on the other side we also have the fact that the consumer knows that these products are unhealthy and yet can do very little about it because of their lack on self control.
So is it a case of they must be stopped and tougher laws must be brought in or must one take personal responsibility here?
Where Did It Begin?
The question that I ask is: how did this idea that one’s actions have no consequences arise? And where does this lack of control come from?
I believe that in order to understand this or at least try to understand where these two aspects might have originated from; we need to look at the area of childhood development. And how these aspects come together to form the ego mind.
Because, I believe that although this could be seen as being created completely by society; it also has its beginnings at an individual level.
During ones younger years there is very little attention and awareness of consequences. This is partly because at that age a child has very little power to begin with. And only experiences power as a result of the caregiver’s responses.
It then based on the quality of these responses that determines how empowered this child will grow up to be. If the child is validated and mirrored for example; the child will then form a functional self image and a connection to itself.
This means the ability to be aware of one’s inner processes; thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations. If this connection is not created because of neglect or through different forms of abuse; the child is likely to become disconnected and disassociated from its own self.
Here the child will become an adult that is unaware of what is going on inside and also what is going on outside. This can then create the tendency to act carelessly, and this is because one is acting from a perception of powerlessness.
The Ego Mind
After this early conditioning the ego mind will then identify with what happened all those years ago and form a perception. This perception will then colour and shape every aspect of one’s life.
So even though as an adult one has power, one can easily regress to the earlier stage in their life when this wasn’t the case. And this is because this perception can create the illusion that one is powerless and has no control or influence.
The experience of having no control is often a consequence of not having the right nurturing in childhood and goes hand in hand with being made to feel powerless.
If the validation and mirroring, as mentioned above, is not adequate the ego mind will hold onto this perspective until one becomes the observer of the mind and is no longer enslaved by it.
The perception of having no control will take on many forms. And this is because of the way the ego mind functions. It works in polarities and so there is often the likelihood of extreme behaviour.
So based on feeling completely out of control within, unless one is aware and can observe the mind there will be the tendency to be externally controlling. This is the minds way of compensating for the lack of control within. And of course, this can also show up as having no control and being completely influenced by the outside world.
It would be easy to judge the companies and to say that these products should be banned. However these companies are ultimately giving people what they want. The part that wants these things might not be conscious or a real reflection of what one needs, but it is fulfilling a demand. What one wants is often more important than what one needs.
And I believe that this is a demand that can either be changed through people becoming conscious and processing their past or it can be changed externally.
The externally approach usually results in the government and other figures bringing in laws and regulations; which is often the only way that change happens. This approach doesn’t usually lead to real growth and merely covers up the real causes.
What this also does is take away personal responsibility and with that goes personal power and freedom. Because the more one is being told what to do externally, the less likely one is going to think for themselves. And if someone else is making the decisions they will have the right to decide how another spends their time.
And if one doesn’t think for themselves and relies on another person they are not exercising their own power of choice. The relationship is then tantamount to the child parent dynamic.
This means that the pattern continues; with the outer worlds power increasing, while ones inner sense of being powerless continues to grow.
In today's society there is a common mentality and this mentality is often called - The Entitlement Mentality. On the dictionary.com website this is described as: The fact of having a right to something and the amount to which a person has a right.
So what this means is that one has the right to something and that this right is not based on having earned the right. This right exists regardless of one having to do anything.
There are surely a lot of reasons and factors as to why the entitlement mentality exists in society. What I will be expressing here is purely my views and opinions. I do not claim to have the absolute truth; this is simply what I have come to conclude at this moment.
The Modern World
This mentality often shows up as: expecting something for nothing; the expectation that one can achieve something with minimal or no effort and believing that another person or people owe one something.
What is then created here is a very one sided attitude and an attitude that is out of balance with life. It is not based on giving and receiving; it is only about taking. On a local level this expectation could placed on family, friends or a spouse for example and on the wider scale it could be the government or an individual or organisation of importance and power.
Not only is the above one sided; it is also extremely self centred. One is only thinking about themselves and what they can gain. There is no thought or consideration as to what one can give or do for their own fulfilment. One's own needs then take precedence over everyone else's.
And this behaviour can naturally create anger and frustration from the people who are working for what they have and are giving and not just taking from this world.
We can also see that these external figures that play certain roles, which cause them to have certain statuses and titles within a given society, have their own needs to fulfil.
These people are under enormous pressure and strain to provide for people who believe they are entitled. And provide is the operative word here. If we step back and look at this as a relationship it becomes a lot clearer.
On one side we have the father and mother figures and on the other we have the children. And as children are powerless and dependent; they need someone else to take care of their needs.
So although on one side of the relationship we have people who feel they are entitled to anything and everything; on the other side we have people who are only too willing to give to people with this mentality.
And there cannot be one without the other; as soon as one side is taken out of the equation the other has very little chance of existing. That is unless it takes on another form of course.
Above I have mentioned that this is a relationship and that if we look at this through symbolic eyes we can see that the people who take on the role of being entitled are similar to children. And the figures that are perceived as having power are perceived as being the caregivers.
As children we all have needs and these needs are not always filled. Perhaps the needs that are not fulfilled are not enough to make much of a difference to the child when it becomes an adult.
However these needs may have been denied and neglected to the degree that when this child becomes an adult it will struggle to handle life and to have any sense of self.
And how empowered an individual feels and acts, will usually depend on whether or not these needs were responded too all those years ago. These are basic emotional needs and include: love, validation, approval, mirroring and touch.
Without having these needs met one will have a very poor sense of self. This is what allows one to be an individual, to know that one exists. As without being an individual and an empowered one at that, one can only exist through another and by depending on another.
Dependency And Power
It is then only natural for one to rely and depend on another person to give and supply what one needs. Here, one's personal power (self esteem) is just about nonexistent. And then it has no choice but to feel entitled; because deep within ones personal power has never been developed and realised.
Who's Too Blame?
At this point one could blame the government or caregivers. The government or the society could be blamed to allowing and supporting this mentality. And caregivers could be accountable for their inadequate care giving. And as is clear to see in the modern day world and I'm sure since time began; blame typically causes inaction and gives ones power away to an external influence.
However, what is important here is personal responsibility. And in order for this to occur; one needs to become aware. One can wait for an external figure to change their life or one can do what they can to make the changes required.
Taking care of one's needs is of paramount importance in creating a sense of self and in becoming and empowered human being. For when one is empowered; they will feel uncomfortable and even guilty by just taking and not giving.
Gift And Talents
We all have our own gifts and talents to offer this world; just as this world has plenty to offer to each one of us. Some people are aware of these gifts and talents from the moment they are born and for others it can take a while longer.
The greater our awareness of ourselves, the easier it will become to find and realise what these gifts and talents are.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant - With Over 2,000,000 Article Views Online.
That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.