Our story is all that we have experienced up until his point, all that we are experiencing at this moment and all that we will experience in the future. And part of what makes up our story is the roles that we play.
However, these are roles that might not even seem like roles, they can appear to be just how our life is. And this is why it makes it so difficult to question these roles and to change them.
There is the saying ‘I am everything and I am nothing’. But does this saying have any relevance to life or is it just some fancy quote that sounds good? Let’s take a closer look at the different factors that are involved and if this quote has any truth to it
It is a consequence of the conditioning that one has received throughout life that is the primary cause in creating and in keeping these roles alive. These are supported and therefore kept in place by the ego minds need to keep everything the same. It does this because its perception of what is safe is based on what is familiar.
This conditioning produces thoughts, emotions, feelings and sensations; these will then manifest into behaviours. Each one of these aspects helps to keep these roles in place.
So along with our own internal processes there are also environmental or external factors that are re-enforcing these roles. This could be from family, friends and colleagues .There is also the societal influence, which includes the media, religion and the government.
Now, it is not that these external influences have absolute power; it is just that they are triggering what already exists within and this is what keeps the story alive. These could be classed as inner wounds that can either be healed or inflamed.
It is quite clear that a society will create or produce certain roles and there will also be roles that are more common than others. An inner vulnerability already exists in certain people from a childhood that inevitably had traumatic moments. This vulnerability can then be taken advantage off by the media, religion and government.
An extremely important factor here is acceptance or approval. The roles that we play might not be particularly empowering, but what they will give one is a certain amount of acceptance. And an important question that might arise is; if I was to change my behaviour and view of myself would I still be accepted.
Firstly there will always be people who accept us and who don’t; regardless of who we are and how we behave. The more we accept ourselves and are good and bad pints; the more others will be able too. There is a saying that says ‘it is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.
And secondly although there will be a small percentage of people who know how we behave there will be large percentage of people that we encounter that have no idea who we are or what our behaviour is like. So therefore the only reasons that we play the same roles is because of these external triggers that are activating old trauma and patterns; that are waiting to be processed.
And just like how a living organism needs certain nutrients to survive, so does our story. Since in order for our story to survive it needs our attention and validation, without that it has nothing to live on.
What makes this a challenge is that fact that the majority of what is going on in our mind is going on at an unconscious level. This means that it is going on out of our conscious awareness. And unless one has worked on their history or processed any of their past, there is going to be a lot of ‘stuff’ that needs to be dealt with.
Our Five Senses
A widely held paradigm in today’s society is that what we experience with our five senses is the truth. This of course is not necessarily true, especially when the mind is involved. When it comes to the mind and how the mind functions; this is a stance that is potentially dangerous. And that if it is taken literally, will cause years of struggle and frustration.
With the mind seeing what is wants to see and what it does see is largely based on projection and interpretation.
The unmonitored mind is constantly projecting its own meaning onto everything it sees and experiences, regardless of its accuracy. And interpretation works by perceiving and processing reality by matching it up to past experiences and then coming to conclusions. However, these conclusions might have no relevance to what is happening.
So if it works this way, it then shows that it takes great awareness and courage to be able to question what our reality is showing us. If we wholeheartedly believe in what our five senses are showing us, then according to that, what we are experiencing must be true. And therefore it must be who we are.
Our ego mind will also perceive this as tantamount to its own death. Consciously we might want to change who we are and the roles that we play, but our mind has built its whole identity around this role or roles. And to change it would mean the death of the ego mind, or so it would seem.
Becoming the observers of our mind and letting go of our identification to it, will create the potential for our ego mind to be our trusted servant; as opposed to being its slave. This will allow the true self to appear and out of which will lead to true self expression.
What Roles Are We Playing?
So, what are the roles that we have been playing our whole life? These could be roles that don’t truly reflect who we are or roles that are not empowering.
As I have pointed out above, these roles can become so familiar that discomfort can be created at the thought of removing them. We can hold onto these roles even when they have no benefit to our own fulfilment.
What Is Real?
So of these roles are not who we are, then who are we? The simple answer would be to use the quote that I started off with ‘we are everything and nothing’. I would say this is something that will be revealed as we let go of our identification to roles and to our story.
The mind will naturally feel uncomfortable with this answer and this is because it needs and wants certainty (which is why the media is so popular). Whether something is real and true is not important to the ego mind. This is because if something is certain then it is familiar and if it is familiar then it must be safe. The mind will then feel at peace.
A Deeper Understanding
Other people can talk about their experiences and give their opinions and advice and this will give the mind something to ruminate over. This is important and it might be all that is possible in the early stages.
To have a visceral understanding and not just a theoretical understanding requires individual responsibility and commitment. There is always the potential of science to reveal what is true, but this is also possible through awareness of oneself.
What I am referring to by the term ‘roles’ is the way one behaves in the relationships in their life. So with the description out of the way, the first question is; what causes one to behave as they do in relationships when their behaviour is dysfunctional and disempowering and doesn’t lead to fulfilling relationships? This is something I am going to do my best to answer.
Present Day Behaviour
During those moments where ones behaviour is dysfunctional or disempowering, often the following can occur; something is said or something is done and before we know it our behaviour is completely out of control. With it seeming to happen so fast that we can often believe we have no control over our behaviour.
Although this might not just be a one of occurrence, it is usually a set of behaviours that appear throughout a relationship. There could also be behaviours that are constantly triggered around men, women or authority figures for example.
And once these behaviours are triggered it can be difficult to regain ones composure. It might cause one to feel that there is nothing they can do and this is who they are – an effect of the environment as opposed to a cause.
What Is Happening?
In all of these moments something is being triggered in the mind and what is being brought to the surface is usually the result of a memory or an accumulation of memories from ones childhood or an earlier point in life.
These triggers are often so subtle and out of conscious awareness that they can just seem to happen. This then naturally leads to feelings of powerlessness and of being a victim of circumstance.
As these memories are usually being triggered from ones childhood or from earlier relationships it can feel as though one is regressing. And that one’s usual sense of self and behaviour is no longer in existence.
Why Do They Still Exist?
It is quite clear that these old ways of behaving are counterproductive to ones wellbeing and empowerment, so why do they still exist? They exist because they are still associated with what is safe to the ego mind.
During ones childhood and younger years these were the behaviours that were utilised to ensure ones survival. To go against them at that time of one’s life would be perceived as leading to rejection and abandonment.
Stimulus And Response
So looking at a scenario again, it now makes a lot more sense. All that is required is a trigger of some kind and our behaviour will then, as a consequence, regress to how it was at an earlier stage of our life. With this earlier stage usually being ones childhood.
This is one of the reasons that the behaviour is counterproductive, as it might have worked all those years ago to keep one safe, but when it comes to the present day the behaviour is outdated and disempowering.
These roles are not only limited to the roles that we play ourselves; there is also the other side of the coin. This is when we interpret others and see their behaviour in a way that reflects the roles of our caregivers or the people in our past. And by doing this, our ability to be conscious and to see others in a more balanced or conscious point of view is lost.
Perhaps when one was younger they had an authoritative mother or father. It might then play out in two ways; the first would be that whenever they come across an authority figure they will tend to become submissive and fearful. The other likely approach would be behaviour that is aggressive and hostile.
Another example is the women who had an overbearing or controlling father. And when she is in an intimate relationship she has a tendency to regresses back to her earlier behaviour and the role she had around her father. This of course has no benefit and only causes her to feel overwhelmed and powerless.
In both of these examples, ones unprocessed past is being projected and manifested into the present moment and is then reappearing in the form of ‘roles’.
That’s The Way It Is
As I have mentioned above in regards to the nature of these roles; we can act in a certain manner and perceive others in specific ways, without ever noticing that these roles are being carried out and because of this unawareness we can go through life without ever questioning these roles.
Where Did These Roles Originate From?
These roles that we see in others and the roles that we embody are in many ways a consequence of our original role models. And our original reference point for role models is typically our parents/caregivers.
These were seen as god like figures and as people who were completely different to us. And in terms of their physical size and perhaps mental growth they were different to us. But inherently they came from the same place as us and are no different to us. They are still human beings who have needs and imperfections like us.
The role of a mother and father is generally something that the majority of people can relate to and understand as an example. This could be because they are one of these roles or because they have had one or both of these in their life.
They are roles that are familiar and easy to understand. However, there are often emotions of anger and frustration and feelings of being let down and betrayed when one go’s over their experiences with their parents or in comparing thir parents with other people’s parents.
However, as we grow older and develop ourselves, we have the chance to see our parents/caregivers more for who they are as opposed to the god like figures we thought they were. And that maybe they were the best people for our own growth to occur. Something that will be easier to grasp if one believes or knows that life has meaning and harder to believe in, if one sees life as random and meaningless.
They likely had needs that were not met and their own pain, all of which were likely to been have projected onto us and affected our upbringing and development.
Freedom From Roles
There might always be job titles and roles that are apart of those in our society, however the psychological roles that we play and perceive in others are not static. The types of roles that we play and the roles we interpret other people to play can always change.
With dancing there is a constant motion and movement, and just like how a dance will stop when there is resistance; so will the flow of life when our mind becomes fixed and resistant.
Awareness is required for this flow to happen and for the dissolving of roles to occur. And first and foremost awareness of ourselves and out of that allows for the awareness of others.
We all have a story to tell, no matter who we are or where we’re from; a story that reminds us of a past that can never be forgotten. This is a story can define one’s life; one that contains the potential to create a life that is a reaction to the story or a life inspired and motivated by it.
So what exactly is our story? To me our story is a direct consequence of our early years and yet it is also being created with each and every moment of our life, with each breath that we take.
This is a combination of how we were treated and how we perceived ourselves as result. It also includes the feelings, thoughts and emotions that this caused and the behaviours that were created. What we believe we are capable off and what we can expect from life.
Each of these different factors forms our identity or self image. And the story keeps these alive through the inner and outer repetition of the experiences that we have.
A Gift Or A Curse?
We can see that our story has a profound effect on our life; it can quite easily set us up for life. This might be a story that one is happy with, a story that is meaningful and fulfilling. The challenge is when this is a story that is not fulfilling or meaningful, a story that causes frustration, disempowerment amd despair.
And if this is a story that does one no favours; does it have define ones whole life or is it something can be transmuted and over come?
The interesting thing here is that the ego mind allows one to have an individual story; a story that is unique and has its own meaning. This allows one to have their own purpose, a purpose that will coincide and connect with others, but is nevertheless unique to them.
When the ego mind is mature and developed, it becomes a functional tool or conduit for the higher self to express its deepest longings. These may take the form of gifts, longings of the heart and passions that never disappear.
These can be ignored or repressed, but they are never truly removed; they can’t be, for there innate parts of us.
The Other Side
It is then clear that our ego is there for a reason, however there is another side to the ego and side that is all too familiar.
This is the undeveloped ego, the ego that has been described as the neurotic or primitive ego. As far as I know the ego operates on what is safe and what is safe, is what is familiar. This means that the ego will hold onto what it knows and what it has experienced, as this is familiar and therefore safe.
So how does this relate to our story? What this means is that our ego mind will hold onto a story no matter how functional or dysfunctional it is. This is because it is perceived as familiar and therefore safe.
Who Am I?
The undeveloped ego mind fears letting go and is fuelled or exists through fear. If it only knows itself in regards to what is familiar then it is clear to see that it has no real identity of its own. The only identity it has is based on the past; forming its identity out of ideas and perceptions.
So if it only knows itself through the past and what is familiar it makes complete sense as to why it holds on and fears letting go. As to the ego mind this would feel like loss of itself and therefore death. When in reality all that is happening is the ego is being matured and developed, becoming an assistant to the self instead of taking complete control and causing endless pain and suffering.
In order to embrace and operate from the self our story needs to be acknowledged and heard. To deny or ignore our story will only create a struggle with the ego mind and this is a battle that can never be won.
It is not important whether this story is seen as the inner child or just as the past. What is important is that it is healed and presence/awareness is allowed to enter.
The self appears and comes into play through awareness or pure awareness. This usually comes about through the gradual and persistent observing of the mind which leads to the healing of the past, not getting caught in the movements of the mind only watching.
Upon the reflection of these different elements above we can concur that it is actually possible to move out of our story and that our story is not who we are or what we are capable of.
And that our story is ultimately just a consequence of the undeveloped and conditioned mind, which holds onto the past because it fears losing itself.
A New Story
The past can be used as a catalyst and perhaps the past is relevant to our purpose in life. That each situation and experience we have is what will lead to the realising of our greatest fulfilment. And that each choice one makes or doesn’t make will lead one closer or further away from this actuality.
A New Beginning
The potential this creates is for a new story to be created in each moment. And that each story only exists for as long as the mind holds onto it.
Our story might forever remain in our memory; however it doesn’t have to have the same controlling and limiting effect that is once had. It can be used as a point of reference and something that can inspire one to realise their true self; a gift and not a curse.
An Individual Choice
This is of course something to consider and ponder, and if it’s something that doesn’t ring true for you it can at least lead to further questions and potentially a path that is true for you.
We live in a time of extreme exposure and this exposure is no longer limited to the old ways of reporting; where radio, news papers or the Television were the primary ways. There is now Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other ways that allow for current events to be exposed and for individuals to express their views.
One of the consequences of this is that people’s actions, often the ones in the public eye, are seen and heard like never before; which has the potential for higher levels of judgment and scrutiny. Certain events are given extreme exposure and with the original context of a story being changed.
Racism in Football
One of the recent events related to racism is the incident involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. This has raised questions around the effectiveness of the ‘say no to racism ‘campaign and also as to why there are not more black managers in football. Professional footballers are role models for so many people and with the status that they have in our society; it was inevitable that it would lead massive exposure and uproar.
I am of white/Caucasian decent, and I have never experienced racism directly and neither do I claim to understand what it must feel like to experience such abuse.
What I do have is my own ideas and views about racism. These are about the psychology of racism and about what I believe are some of the reasons behind it. I have watched, heard and read about different situations where racism has been active and have been around others who have been abused in this way. And I now want to share my current perspectives.
The Definition of Racism
Racism is defined as: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
The Typical Approach
One of the common approaches to eradicating racist behaviour is through logic and repression. That is to define racism as bad or wrong; with the expectation that it will be solved by coming to this conclusion.
However, the problem here is that the majority of behaviour is unconscious and is triggered at an emotional level. If the average person were to be asked why they behave the way they do, why they believe what they do or why they feel the way they do; they probably wouldn’t know or it might be a challenge at best to answer this question.
The Illusion Of Evolution
So upon this understanding, it becomes clear to see that logic or repression will not work in removing racism. It will appear to have gone, through the process of it being pushed into ones unconscious mind. The illusion of evolution will then be created within a society; when all that is occurring is a paint job. A human beings growth is in fact; merely in a place of stunted growth.
The perspectives for example that lead to racist behaviour are likely to still exist, but through the conditioning of guilt or shame, will be kept hidden and under control. This might then cause them to be channelled into other ways. Behaviour then might go to the other extreme; creating an environment of paranoia and fear around coming across as racist.
It is said that the more laws a society has the less evolved it is. I think this demonstrates that when a human being understands something at a deeper or emotional level, laws are not required and the laws are seen for what they actually are - compensatory.
The Real Reasons
The real reasons, as to why, people feel the way they do about other races is rarely being looked at or processed. It is clear to see that it cannot be removed as one would remove a box; moving it from one place to the other. It is apparent that a different approach is needed.
The Role Of The Ego
We all have an ego mind and the ego mind has some very generally ways of responding and seeing the world. And I think that in order to understand racism we have to look at the role of the ego. It has a way interpreting the world in polarities and this causes the good/bad, inferior/ superior, lack/abundance and numerous other similar perspectives.
It also creates the illusion of separation; making one feel that they are separate from the environment and other people. And through this form of polarisation we can see how all races can be put in the same category by the mind and how generalisations are formed around race. If one race is seen as separate from another, it is then easier to act in certain ways towards them.
We all have been conditioned; this could be by family, friends, religion, the media and numerous other sources.
This creates the following questions: are people racist because of their direct experience of people from other backgrounds? Or is it the result of second hand ideas and perspectives? Perhaps these are Ideas and perspectives that have been passed from one generation to the other.
So how does this relate to racism? Through the conditioning one receives from the sources around them, the opinions and conclusions they have about other races will not be based on real experience and something they can own themselves.
Perhaps when they were first being told and conditioned about other races, they were forced to accept what was being told out of the need to be accepted and to avoid being rejected. At an age where their own survival was on the line, had they not accepted what was being sold to them. This can then become their paradigm for life, never question or changed.
There is also something called associations and the mind forms associations around what is safe and also around everything that it experiences. This could be associations around: men, women, places, countries, food and just about everything else. These associations are what allows one to create meaning and make sense of what one experiences.
However these associations are not reality, they are the minds conclusion and interpretation of what it sees. So this shows that the associations and meanings that we have about something or someone might be inaccurate at best and destructive at worst.
And just like conditioning; these will likely be associations that are not firsthand creations, they are likely to be second hand and passed on from another source.
So how does this relate to racism? If one has been conditioned to see another race in a certain way; these associations will be triggered whenever they see or are exposed to another race. This will then create their thoughts, behaviours and perspectives.
The reality is that everyone on this planet is inherently unique and different. And so when a racist judgment is made it could be based on associations that have nothing to do with the person or people involved. Of course certain races are categorised in certain ways, however if there is a pattern in certain races it is surely based on the environment they were brought up in and not on the colour of their skin. With it being clear to see that there is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in all races.
Reticular Activating System
Each one of us has a Reticular Activating System. To explain this in a simplified way; it is a function of the brain to only see what it is programmed to see. It is a filter system.
So how does this relate to racism? Through conditioning and associations, it will actively filter and see only what it has been programmed to see. So if it has been programmed to see only negativity, for example, in another race; that is what it will see. And anything that goes against this programming will be filtered out, or perhaps even justified in some way, as to remove the possibility of seeing the race through another perspective.
The mind likes to use defence mechanisms as a way to minimise the stress that it is experiencing. These are extremely important for our own psychological health and without them we wouldn’t survive very long. As the stimulus and stress that they deal with would overwhelm us, if it wasn’t for their support.
The other side of it is the mind will use them as a way to avoid facing or dealing with anything. It will be quite happy to avoid looking at a situation or memory forever.
So how does this relate to racism? We can see that as a way to avoid responsibility for what has happened, the mind will use any form of defence it can. And if this means blaming another for something it will, and the fact the other person might look different to them makes it easier for the mind to avoid taking responsibility for what happens.
This shows that the right education is the key; however expecting it to stop by saying it is bad is as effective as saying to oneself ‘I shouldn’t feel this way’ and expecting the feeling to go. As the saying goes ‘what we resist persists’. There has to be a readiness for change to take place.
Deeper questions have to be asked and a deeper understanding of one’s emotions and awareness of oneself is required. To understand how the mind functions in black and white, how it forms associations and how the conditioning of others has formed and is forming our views and perspectives of life.
Conclusion And Something Important To Consider
All of these views and opinions above have come about through such things as; awareness, detachment and objectivity. So how does this relate to what causes racism? I believe this demonstrates that racism will only be truly eradicated by those who are willing to question and challenge the conditioning and associations that they have; this is the conscious individual.
And that racism cannot be eradicated through force or control. Whether we are talking about racism or any other kind of abuse, at best all we can really do is change ourselves. To force another to change would be to create an ‘eye for an eye scenario’ and this of course leads to more divisiveness.
So although it sounds good politically to have campaigns and to see it as something that can be changed overnight; in reality it is a long term challenge, as history has shown.
Oliver JR Cooper
Teacher, Author, Transformational Writer & 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.
A Dialogue With The Heart - Part One
A Dialogue With The Heart - Part Two
A Dialogue With The Spirit
Why Does He Behave That Way? Why Do I Behave This Way?