Monday, October 6, 2014

Inquiry and Acknowledgment

In my own experience with therapy, both for myself and for others and as a collaborative effort I've found that there are only a few central methods which I'm drawn to over and over. These include hypnotherapy and provocative therapy, which help to externalize defenses and make them more voluntary, internal family systems, which helps in identifying parts or roles and the burdens they carry, and for most of the 'grunt work' I use 'inquiry' from the diamond approach along with an idea called 'acknowledgment' which my psychologist friend Joe K. Fobes invented. However, even before that it takes a very particular attitude in order to make progress in uncharted emotional territory.

Standards, Prices and Mines

Most emotional issues that I come across in my own work are what I would call 'standards' issues. In other words, you're either putting up with something that you shouldn't have to or else you're expecting something unreasonable. A somewhat weaker form of this I call a 'price issue', ie how much are you "charging" or "being charged" emotionally for say friendship, love, sex, etc? With a full 'standards' issue it's not so much a matter of paying too much as it is expecting the wrong thing altogether due to, on some level, believing something that is false. Price issues are more negotiable, where ultimately you're looking for a fair 50-50 trade. This can happen when your 'parts' and another person's are in agreement regarding some primary issue, or if you've let go of your need for 'payment' in which case you can generally accept the other person's feelings.

In working with standards and price issues, the main thing you need to consider is what you're willing or unwilling to accept. It's a lot like Rosa Parks when the white person demanded she give up her seat. There's no such thing as 'compromise' in those sorts of situations, and either you'll be Rosa or you'll be the white person, and you basically have to decide whether or not you'll accept that role. In some cases, even though you'd rather say "no" (obviously, unless you like being a racist, which can happen to the best of us from time to time) you find that you can't congruently do it. This only indicates that you haven't navigated the issue enough to understand what the really important parts are yet. I call issues like this 'mines' like a land mine due to the fact that they can cause you to emotionally break down but the only thing you can do is dance around them until you've gotten far enough to dig them up and defuse them.

Inquiry and Acknowledgment

At any point in working with emotional issues you typically either know what to do or have no ground to stand on. In order to navigate from the latter to the former, you have to consistently reconsider what is important (ie what feelings, concepts, context), what that means to you or the other person (ie why is it important), and then what to do about it. What you do about something depends very much on what it means in the given emotional context.

With inquiry the idea is to try to untangle the mess that is your feelings, release the burdens they carry, if possible find out what your feelings are trying to tell you and eventually sort your way to freedom with the trail of hints you get. If your feelings are an impenetrable mess, you can either start by finding some way in which your standards (ie your constitution as a person) are being violated and then fight that, or you can try random things to find a positive response, ie some way in which your feelings can connect with someone else's. This is where inquiry and acknowledgment converge.

Once you have a starting point, you can begin to navigate your feelings to find out what they're about. Each feeling that emerges and which feels important is kind of like an item stuck on a shelf. The shelf may have various shapes and be at various heights, but in order to get the item off first you have to lift it, pull it away from the shelf, and then set it on the ground. This is how I typically experience the 'polarization' between parts described in IFS, and I've found that any part can carry burdens which include things like anger, sadness, jealousy (and arrogance), 'heaviness', specific complaints in the form of words, important ideas and occasionally more central (ie mine related) burdens. From time to time parts also reveal opportunities to 'open trade', when you can actually get back more than you've given without a one-sided deal.

For each of these (and other) feelings that arise, you merely sort out each feeling and allow it to present itself to you. If the feeling is 'loose' enough (ie not too polarized), then usually a deep breath in until it matches the feeling followed by a breath out with an asian-style bow either from the stomach or hips (also matching wherever the feeling is, and paying attention to the feelings on the way back up as well) will allow you to 'put the burdens down' and let them go. If the feeling 'hooks' successfully and 'deflates' properly, then you can 'drop' it back into the pool of your feelings or 'put it away' for safe keeping. If it does not, then you can try again or try something else if that doesn't work.

For more intense or important feelings this may not be enough, in which case there are a few possibilities. In many cases you might find a mine, which you can only rebury and try to move around. In some cases your feelings may get tangled and you have to release something else first in order to depolarize the part that you currently have. In other cases the feeling may come with other things, like it may include some metaphorical form or it may reveal memories and complaints and other such things, and in those cases it is necessary to sit with the feeling and relax into it until it reveals what it is about. Sometimes feelings require this just to 'thaw out' enough to be released, even though they may not reveal very much specifically.

The Therapeutic Cycle

In general, if I'm working on some emotional issues that I haven't cleared myself, either I'll be doing a lot of acknowledgment (and bowing) or else I'll be stuck and trying to find a way around. Often when working around being 'stuck' leads into a large amount of polarized energy being released, ie anger and other things that sometimes resemble sewage or otherwise feel like pure violence, which provides a starting point for more inquiry and acknowledgment. Sometimes this requires finding someone whose parts will either agree with or polarize with my own or changing modes completely.

Conversely, when I am working with someone whose dominant emotional issues are things I've already worked through (and assuming I'm coherent enough to manage therapy) then I tend to use provocative therapy and hypnotherapy more heavily. Those approaches are comparatively much more rapid and effective if you can find a clear way to apply them in order to expose a person's issues and redirect their behavior. It can also be substantially less painful than trailblazing methods thanks to the emotional support of someone more advanced. The more skilled and emotionally advanced the 'therapist', the less painful and time consuming therapy becomes.

For comparison and informational purposes, currently I am somewhere within the second phase of the Diamond Approach. I have seen brilliance, which looked like a shimmering pool of sunlight (or a lake with no lake) but which did not feel like much of anything, and later on I also saw the partly-completed integration of all of my 'essence'. It was much like Mr. Almaas described in that it was a bit like a glowing jeweled egg with some of the facets shining rather brightly while others were still clouded. At the time I had actually been thinking about 'god', and I've quickly found that 'looking at it' actually hurts because its beauty and purity emphasize the pain and stuckness of the parts which are still clouded. It is perhaps somewhat easier in that I do find that I have more choices at any point as compared to the first phase, however I cannot say that the turmoil or suffering is any less intense, and in some cases it is actually much worse.

You could easily say that my ultimate goal is to be able to look directly at 'god', or equally to be one with all of the things that people truly want in life. Right now, though, it's a very slow (although steady) process of polishing and letting go of everything that I try to keep for myself.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What's in a Relationship?

Previously I've written about how a relationship is essentially made up of the way you feel and interact, however I have yet to say much about the complexities of relationships and what to look for and look out for. A lot of that comes down to experience and perspective, which I didn't really have enough of until recently, and hopefully this will shed some light on some of the biggest questions people have about relationships.

Relationship Ethics

Relationships are very complicated, make no mistake. Every person and situation is unique and the only way to figure things out is ultimately to throw yourself face first into the fray. However, when it comes to love relationships, people are generally looking for more. They want a relationship, something that means something, something that signifies that they are important to you. For a long time I've resisted that paradigm because I didn't want to sacrifice flexibility, but now I've begun to appreciate the value of having "a relationship" (or relationships) and what that means to people much more.

However, my idea of what "a relationship" is is still very different from what most people think of. Whenever I decide I want to have a serious relationship with someone, I commit myself to following some basic ethical rules-of-thumb that I've come up with from my own experience, as follows:

1. I won't give up on the person, even if they give up on themselves (perhaps especially). That means I won't leave someone for stupid petty reasons, and that I'll always do my best for them even if I don't necessarily know what to do. It doesn't, however, mean that I won't lose interest. I have had cases where I ultimately decided that we weren't compatible and ended a relationship on more or less neutral terms, but I do my best to avoid ending relationships on bad terms, and especially abandoning them.

2. I will not under any circumstance act out of revenge. This doesn't mean that I don't get into fights, or that they aren't shitty, but if something makes me angry I'll come out and say it up front rather than being a little shit and trying to do asshole things to 'get back at them' while pretending that nothing is wrong. That's just childish and solves nothing, and creates increasing resentment that will ultimately destroy the relationship.

3. I will never purposefully try to use a person's feelings as a weapon against them. That means I will never try to make a person that I relate to jealous, or to use their jealousy to get what I want if they happen to feel that way anyway. Jealousy is a pretty disgusting emotion, and can never form the basis of a healthy relationship. People who use jealousy to manipulate others are pretty disgusting, too, in my opinion.

The Next Level

A more difficult question is when to take a relationship "to the next level", which of course means sex. Normally my answer to this is "whenever it feels right", by which I mean when the relationship is otherwise sound emotionally, and when we are close enough that I feel like it (and it's typically mutual at that point). The first time with any person is usually very stressful, but after that it typically takes a lot of the stress out of a relationship. The girl I've been with the longest would say something like "sex is the most intimate act of connection between two people", although I'm not sure that I agree with that completely (I like post-sex cuddles just as much).

There are other cases where my usual answer does not suffice, however. Sometimes there's just too much sexual frustration, and it just needs to go somewhere, and sometimes a person might be too afraid to accept or believe in love right away. In those cases I might allow sex to come first, but it is always a judgement call (and a very difficult one at that). In those cases I try to take extra care to ensure that I can deal with the person's feelings effectively, so that eventually they can relax enough to feel love and enjoy everything more. "Eventually" is usually not very long, either, since my methods (when I'm not emotionally buggered myself) have proven very effective.

Types and Compatibility

Knowing what you want or don't want in a person is very important for making a relationship work. At one time I avoided making such a distinction because I didn't want to be a judgmental asshole, and to a point that's valid, but at the same time it's hard to be excited about someone who you don't really care for, and I'd prefer to be emotionally honest.

To me, personality is easily the most important factor. If you don't like a person's personality in general, if it doesn't attract you, and if you can't interact with them in a fun, casual way, then you're unlikely to get very far with them. Keep in mind that a person's emotional problems may obscure what they are really like, but you can usually catch at least glimpses if you pay close attention. There are also types that I like and get along with even though they aren't necessarily the most compatible, and some that I just can't bring myself to like. As long as you know where others stand and don't expect too much of them, things tend to work out well enough.

It is also important to know what you don't like. If someone has some trait that seriously turns you off, it will be hard to take them seriously emotionally, which usually does not lead anywhere good. For example, my 'main' type is probably intelligent, highly literate girls with an absurd sense of humor and preferably real interests. I also like shy, sweet types, although my compatibility varies. On the other hand, I absolutely do not like girls who are dumb, religious or excessively shallow. There are some exceptions, and it is more a spectrum than black-and-white, but if a girl has one of those traits it significantly hurts her chances of ever being very important to me.


The ugliest and most hazardous thing to look out for in any relationship is passive-aggression. This can be difficult to spot, but most commonly it shows up as things like fishing for compliments or attention, whining or unreasonable expectations. The worst thing about passive-aggression is that the person who is being passive-aggressive will almost always leave themselves some room for plausible deniability so that they can weasel their way out of taking any responsibility for their actions. They try to manipulate you into doing something, and if you do it then they shit on you and take you for granted, if you don't they may try to guilt trip or bribe you, and if you try to pin responsibility on them then they try to flip things on you. Passive-aggression is often, but not always, a huge pain in the ass to deal with. It takes delicacy and a firm hand to keep them from taking control of the situation and to discourage their manipulative behavior. There is also no guarantee that you will succeed either, because they can always find someone else who will enable their behavior, and they may even use this against you as an additional form of manipulation.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Radical Emotional Honesty

Humanistic Therapy

Carl Rogers has been a long time favorite psychologist among psychologists, and his Humanistic/Client Centered Therapy has found many practitioners and advocates since its creation in the late 1930s. While Rogers' complete theory and methods are well beyond the scope of this article, his approach has several notable characteristics which were unique in his time, and which have inspired many other therapists since.

Back then, the only schools of psychology that existed are the two which are now considered "classical"; Freudian psychoanalysis (and subsets like Jung's work) and Pavlovian behaviorism. While the "classical" schools tend to treat people as machines being examined under a scientific microscope, Rogers saw people as being real humans, with real lives, real problems and real feelings. Whereas even today many schools of psychology (and especially experimental psychology) tend to refer to psychologists as though they're a separate, impartial and superior species, Rogers recognized that psychologists were just normal people also with their own problems, feelings and limitations.

The central tenet of Rogers' theory was that 'psychological maladjustment' results whenever a person "denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure". Put another way, emotional insanity means denying any part of your experience. This is a theme that I've seen and written about over and over; in buddhism and taoism, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the Diamond Approach, IFS and elsewhere. Rogers' approach was unique, however, in that he emphasized curing this with emotional honesty and also how important it is for the therapist to maintain a non-defensive, benevolent attitude towards their client(s). I should note that IFS emphasizes the latter but not the former.

Due to the success of Rogers' methods in treating a variety of classically "difficult" clients, and due to its allowance for both the client and therapist to be normal humans beings, Humanistic therapy spread like wildfire and is still popular today. It has also influenced numerous other schools of therapy directly or indirectly including NLP and IFS.

Frank Farrelly and Provocative Therapy

During the 1960s, a therapist by the name of Frank Farrelly developed an extension of humanistic therapy which he called 'provocative therapy'. Unlike Rogers, who had primarily worked with people who attended therapy voluntarily, Farrelly worked in an asylum with people who often did not want therapy, and who even liked living in an asylum and getting free room, board and drugs.

When Farrelly began practicing as a therapist, he used the same Freudian psychoanalysis that all psychologists learned at the time. After a colleague introduced him to Rogers' work, Farrelly quickly found that it caused a revolution in his practice. Suddenly he was able to achieve amazing results with clients that none of the other psychologists in his office could get an inch from. He continued practicing Rogerian client-centered therapy until a series of events caused him to accidentally discover an even more radical approach.

The first case was a woman who was suspected of cheating on her husband, but refused to talk to any of the other therapists about it. When Farrelly was assigned to go out and interview her, she surprisingly confessed to everything, which he later learned to his embarrassment and the bemusement of his colleagues was due to the fact that he had forgotten to zip his fly in his rush to make the appointment. Later on he had a difficult schizophrenic patient which he was making no progress with after many sessions. One day with this schizophrenic, Farrelly was bored out of his mind from the patient's drolling monologue and decided to fall asleep right there on the spot. The schizophrenic was utterly shocked at this behavior and suddenly began expressing an interest in making actual progress for the first time since Farrelly had begun work with him.

Humor and the Devil's Advocate

After this, Farrelly began to actually purposefully employ such methods to shock and disrupt his patients out of their dysfunctional routines. He found that since a person with psychological problems generally believes absurd things, the best way to approach such a person is to take their absurdity and run with it. By taking their absurd propositions and drawing an even more absurd conclusion, by agreeing with them and then exaggerating or understating details, by mocking them in a friendly manner, by confronting them when they're lying or trying to take advantage of the situation, by purposefully misinterpreting what they say, by using puns, non-sequitur, and so on. When put together, to the client or patient it's as though their own dysfunctional behavior has become the butt of an elaborate joke. The therapist in this case is basically externalizing what he sees in the client, while exaggerating things to make it more obvious to the client how other people actually see them.

Farrelly also liked to "play the devil's advocate", actually taking the side of the patient in continuing to display their dysfunctional tendencies. Instead of arguing with the patient and telling them to change, he would agree with them, elaborating things that they might think, listing off benefits of their dysfunctional behavior, and even encourage them to behave worse. By doing so, he was actually taking the place of the person's inner voice and driving it outside, where the person could then choose to argue against it themselves.
In a typical situation provocative therapy takes a three-pronged approach. First, by using humor to make it obvious how other people see the client, second by playing the devil's advocate in order to allow the client to face their own inner dialogue, and third by using confrontation in order to maintain a therapeutic context and to prevent the client or patient from derailing or taking control of the interview (intentionally or otherwise).

Emotional Honesty in Provocative Therapy

Although provocative therapy employs many different specific techniques, the choice of their usage still comes down to doing whatever is the most emotionally honest and which has the most positive impact. To that end, humor is not necessarily appropriate in every situation, for example Farrelly admitted that when confronting a rape victim he would still have to tread very carefully and make sure that he was well calibrated before attempting anything highly provocative. Sometimes what is most appropriate is to be emotionally supportive or compassionate, and sometimes the best result is to have a client crying rather than laughing.

Every person and situation is unique, but if you know what any human's natural tendencies are and if you are well in tune with your own feelings then it is possible to get an intuitive sense for what is most needed in any given case. However with provocative therapy this also carries a great danger, because if at any time the therapist loses their emotional composure they will end up projecting either weakness or hostility to the client. If that happens then the therapist either loses their credibility as a leader or ends up coming off as a douchebag, respectively. While the former is usually recoverable, I can hardly even recall all of the various relationships I've lost due to the latter. Sometimes I might get a second chance, but a lot of the time they never speak to me again. I've even had at least one case where I managed to chase them off during the very first interaction and then never saw them again. This can make learning provocative therapy very difficult and discouraging in spite of its profound effectiveness.

Provocative Therapy and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy

Provocative therapy and Ericksonian hypnotherapy are like two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, Erickson's "utilization" approach to hypnosis and therapy was often very provocative and sometimes even recognizable as standard provocative therapy. On the other, Frank Farrelly often found his clients "spacing out" during intense provocative therapy sessions, which annoyed him until someone told him about Ericksonian Hypnosis and he recognized and began utilizing those trances for therapy (although not hardly at Erickson's level). Provocative therapy can thus be seen as an extension of and as an explicit codification of Erickson's approach to therapy. The reverse, however, is less true since Erickson's work encompassed many things which provocative therapy never incorporated, such as trance phenomena, indirect associative focusing and so on.

I should also mention that Richard Bandler and John Grinder also studied Farrelly's methods, which were highly influential especially for Richard Bandler's approach to therapy. However, they never formally codified provocative therapy (which fits poorly into the overall mechanistic model of NLP) and in spite of the fact that most of the crazy stories they tell from the early days center around provocative therapy, they hardly ever mention it (or Frank Farrelly) anywhere. This is at least one of the reasons why people who read about and train in NLP have so much trouble reproducing the results that Bandler and Grinder achieved.             

Thursday, July 31, 2014


You may have noticed that many of the posts that used to be here have disappeared. The posts are not gone, I've just decided to split this blog into several because it covered too many subjects to keep it coherent. I tend not to stick to one subject for too long, but if I try to write about everything in one blog then posts that ought to be together end up getting split up or orphaned.

So now I have a blog about health and permaculture, a blog about politics and economics, and a blog about engineering, which I never actually got to write anything about here.  All of the posts related to permaculture have already been moved, however for politics and economics I intend to rewrite a lot of that differently, although I will probably re-incorporate a few of the posts that were here, eventually.

From now on this blog will be dedicated exclusively to psychology, philosophy and spirituality. I've mostly cleaned out the other off-topic posts, but I intend to make a few other changes to reflect that fact in the near future, and hopefully start posting more in general now that the organization is less restrictive.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dante's Inferno

In my last article I wrote about the levels of emotional stupidity through which all of us must pass to reach freedom. Today I want to write about my actual experiences with this and some things I've learned from them. This is probably some of the most difficult stuff I've written, bringing together everything I've learned and done so far. We all participate in creating our own experience, and for most of us that experience is a nightmare, a prison made of fictions of who we think we are. If we know how, we can also create a dream of truth, a work of art. It's a battle between heaven and hell, waged constantly in your heart and mind. If you want to know heaven, first you must fight through hell. I hope to show how the battle is waged.

Update: added some things to the weapons list.

Symbols, Agreements & Belief

We all live in fear. Fear of living in a different universe from the one we actually live in. In the universe we live in, there is only perfection, harmony. Everything is art, everything is music. Everything, even pain, suffering, loneliness, war and death. There are no mistakes, no accidents and no coincidences. The world, just as it is, is heaven. Each of us is an artist and prophet in the unfolding masterpiece. Life is your paint and canvas. Symbols, agreements and beliefs are the tools and brushes with which you choose your colors and place your strokes.

We learn to use these tools from our parents, teachers, peers and life experiences. You can make sense of what I've written because of these learnings, because you agree that the words have a certain meaning. We each learn countless words, symbols and concepts and agree to give them certain meanings that we use to understand the world. Some of these refer to real things in our experience, while some of them refer to ideas that exist only in our minds.

As tools, we can use them to create science, art and even magic, however symbols are not the pure experiences they refer to. "Sitting in a chair" is not the experience of actually sitting in a chair, and "art" is not actually the experience of viewing a particular painting. When we believe that symbols are truth, we give them a life of their own, the tools become the user. Our accumulated knowledge becomes a wall of fog and noise, blinding and deafening us to the truth of ourselves and everything in our experience.

The Road to Hell

The path to hell starts with a single step. That step is judgment. We learn to judge from a young age. Naturally, children tend to explore and create, to seek pleasure and avoid pain. However, we learn from others; our parents, teachers, peers, pastors, etc, that when we do what they want, when we are the person they want us to be, we get rewarded with attention, praise, affection and things. When we don't, we're punished with rejection, anger, ridicule and even physical violence. We seek their attention to see ourselves, to learn who we are and what we can do in life, but out of fear of punishment and fear of not being rewarded, we accept their judgments and deny the very thing we sought.

Fear begets fear and judgment begets judgment. We learn to judge everything and everyone, ourselves most of all. Good and bad, beautiful and ugly, fat and thin, smart and dumb, perfect and imperfect, valuable and worthless. Our thoughts and words become weapons which we use against ourselves and others. We judge out of fear, in order to try to control things so our fears don't come true. Judgments are always one-sided agreements, and in our effort to control we end up doing the same thing over and over, either giving and serving while getting little back, or trying to take and manipulate while giving little to nothing in return. The imbalance generally continues until the person either snaps from giving too much, or others snap from being imposed upon; there is no peace in hell.

The War of the Heart

The path to heaven also begins with a single step. That step is awareness. By becoming aware of when you are judging, you can decide to take a different step. This is where the real fight begins, and I suggest taking people you care about as opponents.

Leashes & Walls

The first thing I usually notice that tells me I'm in for a fight is what I call 'leashing'. Leashing is one-sided agreements in action. Either the other person will try to control or manipulate you in some way, or they may try to hand you control (ie throwing themselves at you), or you may find yourself putting yourself at their feet. In the first two cases, I politely decline to either accept control or being controlled. In the last case, I fight to break the leash.

When you follow any leash, at its end you find what I call a 'wall'. I experience them like a solid barrier, and they're like a felt experience of the denial of self and the unwillingness to experience the pain of that denial. I used to smash into them quite painfully, but now when I realize I've hit a wall, I stop and stare it down. I'll look it over, look for a way through or around, chisel at it, smash it, punch it, kick it, ram it, and fight through it until it breaks. Ultimately, getting through the wall means acknowledgment; a full recognition of the judgments which you accepted into your identity. In my experience, the usual way to get to that point either involves yelling or crying, or both. When it comes to heart issues, it seems to be inevitable, although some people seem to change more easily than others, and it probably depends on a lot of things.

Weapons of War

The fight out of hell is extremely difficult, and for most people (myself included) might be insurmountable without tools to aid in the fight. Here I present a list of agreements which have helped me to survive the battles thus far and to see truth where I might otherwise have been blind.

Focus Your Awareness: A natural consequence of judgment is that our awareness is constricted and fixated on a few limited things at the exclusion of everything else. You stop seeing, you stop hearing, you may literally close your eyes or be unable to look at what's going on. Simply by opening your eyes and looking at what's in front of you can make a big difference on whether you're able to fight or not. It may help to start by focusing your attention on random nonthreatening things to help you climb out of your head. This also means paying attention to your own feelings. They can tell you a lot about what's out of whack in your life. In Zen, they say that the path is always right in front of you. Can you hear the birds chirping? Can you see the trees sway in the wind? There is the path.

Put Your Heart on the Line: Putting your heart on the line means saying and doing exactly what you mean to, or at least refraining from saying or doing what you don't mean. This also means being honest with and about your feelings, even when you feel like shit. When things get tough, you may very well have to slow down a whole lot in order to be able to do this well.

Start With What's Most Important: Figure out what the most important thing to do is, and when you're sure of it, do that. Then figure out what the next most important thing is, and when you're sure of it, do that. Repeat until finished. The hard part is being sure. A trusted second (or third) opinion can be valuable here.

Do Your Best: You will screw up. You will blow up, you will crash, and you will have days where only the dog can understand you. It's an absolutely necessary part of all this. All you can really do is do your best, which will vary depending on how you're feeling, your health and your zodiac sign. If you've done your best, you have nothing to blame yourself for.

Take Nothing Personally: Everyone lives in their own experiential world. If someone else judges, ridicules, blames or tries to fight you, that comes from their own fear and pain, it has nothing to do with you. Let responsibility fall where it belongs; take responsibility for your own emotions, and to others the same. I can also point you to the beautiful Litany of Gendlin.

Question Every Assumption: Curiosity and doubt are some of the most powerful tools in my arsenal. If you don't ask questions, you won't find answers. Ask good questions long enough, and good answers find you. It's doubt of the self that produces judgment, and likewise it's doubt of your judgments that sets you free of them.

Know Nothing: Give yourself permission not to know. It's perfectly ok to say "I don't know". This is actually probably a large part of how I keep my sanity these days; I answer most questions with "Hell if I know!". Also give yourself permission to not know who you are, or who other people are either. Existing in this universe means continuous change and evolution. Nothing is as solid or unchanging as we experience our concepts to be.

No Merit: There is no good or bad, right or wrong. Everything is perfect, and nothing you do gains you (or loses you) any points towards everything. You do what you do because you want to, simple.

Throw Paint: When all else fails, throw paint. Do whatever, say whatever. Usually works out ok, as long as you've got nothing else.

The Stick: This is one of my favorite koans, and although it's rather subtle it speaks for itself:
Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no relaization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.
"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

Dying to Live

Probably the biggest disappointment I've ever had was finding out just how difficult, painful and tedious it is to fight your way out of hell. Pain, misery, fear, anger, hatred, confusion, headaches, rinse, repeat. There's occasional glimpses of love and freedom, but just enough to frustrate you near to death. Most days it's like crawling in a barrel and rolling down a rocky hill, and feels about like dying pretty much every time. Up and down, back and forth, and I think I've forgotten what sleep is. I think the only reason I'm still able to fight is because I started seeing other people fight right along with me. It's the first time I can recall that I've gotten back exactly what I've given.


The Toltec Wisdom Series (1, 2, 3)
Positioning Opens Up the Lines of Sight for the Whole Situation and Very Brief Psychotherapy by James P. Gustafson
Zen Meditation in Therapy by C. Alexander Simpkins & Annelen M. Simpkins
Trances People Live by Stephen Wollinsky

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Relationship" is a Verb!

Things have been pretty rough recently, but I'm learning a great deal and I hope to write some about it now that I have some space to think. I'm always looking for depth, and I haven't been disappointed to find it (although disappointed for other reasons, perhaps). My last few articles have been basically about relationships (sexual, mainly), but I haven't really said much about what makes a good one, or how a relationship is even defined.

Nominalizations, Groupthink and Possession

The first thing I can say about the word "relationship" is that it's a 'nominalization', that is a verb which has been converted into a noun, and thus objectified. There are many words like this; "relationship" (to relate), "government" (to govern), marriage (to marry), etc.

Some of these words also objectify a group as an independent thing that can think, decide, etc, which is not true. Every group is made of individuals each having individual thoughts, making individual actions, and so on. When the capacity to think is attributed to a group, bad things happen. Words like "couple" and "government" exemplify this. Even the simple word "we" can lead you down a slippery slope.

Finally, when it comes to relationships, there is a tendency to cling to the illusion of posession. "My" boyfriend/girlfriend, "my" husband/wife, "my" country, etc. In every case, some exclusion is claimed in general by external coercion. You serve one country, one significant other, one God, etc. to the exclusion of all others, and to do otherwise is a betrayal. It is by this means that everyone is converted into a slave, to their job, their spouse, their country and so on. This is based on a fundamental distrust, and creates a lot of resentment which is ignored until things start to break at the seams.

To Relate

To understand how a 'relationship' works and what makes it good or bad, you have to start with what actually makes it up; actions. The words you say, the gestures, touches, the jokes, laughing, provocations, teasing, activities you do together, and so on. What each person does and how they do it speaks volumes for the nature of a relationship. I should note that 'to love' is also a verb, although it can be strange to consider feelings as actions.

The most important thing is what it is you're actually interacting with. Most people are unable to see the person/people in front of them. All they can see is their own hopes and fears, or else the hopes and fears of others. Unable to see both at the same time, they can't make an intelligent compromise between their own wants and those of others, so they try to manipulate the situation to get what they want.

To Consider

The theme of "being considerate" has come up a lot for me lately, but it hadn't really occurred to me just what it means to consider. To consider what? Well obviously, the other person's feelings. Stereotypically this is something women complain about to men, although the reverse also happens.

To be considerate is a very difficult thing to do no matter what's between your legs. Not only do you need to be able to consider the other person's feelings and context, but you also have to respect your own and strike a fair deal between them. Even if you're willing to do that, figuring out a person's feelings and what's important in their context is not a simple task. That's the kind of stuff psychologists have been arguing about for more than 100 years now. It occurs to me that it's not really so complicated, it's just that they try to stick really complicated names on things that are absurdly ordinary. This is also where the depth is at, and what gives relationships the potential to be great.

To Present

If consideration is the depth, to be present is what brings the depths to the surface. What is it that you present when you're "being present"? No less than your awareness, attention and influence (which are also nominalizations; to be aware, to attend, and to influence). Usually these are preoccupied in thoughts; hopes, fears etc. There is an entire class of meditations (focus meditations) which focuses (facepalm here) on developing presence. This requires a practice of developing flexibility and depth of focus, shifting from the big picture to various levels of details, and expanding your senses as far as they will go, then extending your influence through your awareness. Usually people do the opposite: they look at reality, then at their desires, and try to manipulate reality to get their desires, only looking later to see if they got what they wanted.

Deeper Meaning

This has been the topic of a few arguments I've had recently. How do you know what relationships are worth pursuing? Is it better to have just one romantic relationship or many? Where do you draw the line?

I think there are really two important points here. The first is that, in order for a relationship to be functional, it must be fair. If one partner gives everything and gets nothing back, then it isn't much of a relationship. This doesn't just mean in terms of physical things or favors, either, but also in terms of being considerate and emotional closeness. This requires that both people can see and work out a fair deal, otherwise you get dependency or co-dependency, or one person or both are getting used.

The second is that it is best to maintain only relationships which are truly awesome and which you would keep up with forever. Meaningless self-gratification is an avoidant behavior, a symptom of some imbalance in your life. Time spent satiating that instead of dealing with it is time wasted. It takes time to accumulate worthwhile relationships, but always time well spent. I think it's worth mentioning that there ought to be at least some common interests in such a relationship, although a perfect clone of yourself is obviously not reasonable to expect.

Common Stupidity

As with everything else, there's plenty of common 'wisdom' regarding relationships which is dead wrong and yet it's how people really treat each other more often than not. This is the kind of sickness you should watch out for and either avoid or smash when you run across it. I'm not gonna plagiarize, so you can read it here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Feminaziism Explained

Now that I've actually had some time to acquire stats, I've been kinda surprised at what I've seen. Apparently I've got readers, regular or random, from every continent except Antarctica (screw you Antarctica!). There's a definite US/english speaking skew, but I've gotten plenty of hits from many places that aren't (and some that I'd hardly heard of). I'm rather pleased with the diversity.

The #1 most popular search that leads people here, ironically, is "is the diamond approach a cult?". I never expected that small comment to be a breadwinner, but there it is. Virtually all of the searches that lead people here are psychology related (go figure) and evenly cover the Diamond Approach, Internal Family Systems, and Milton Erickson. Psychology is definitely a big part of this blog, and there will definitely be more to follow on that, but I'm kind of disappointed that there are few if any people purposefully reading this for any other reason. For now, oh well. Part of it is probably lack of much content, or at least of content that stands out. The rest is advertising in the right places, which I am very lazy about, not that I don't have places I could do that. Maybe later :).

Today's article is somewhat psychology related, and is brought to you courtesy of Valentine's Day and some insane experiences I've been having recently. And no, not the "awesome" sort of insane, either. In particular, I'm referring to feminism and its consequences.

Contradictions and Doublespeak

On the surface, feminism claims itself to represent "equality for women", i.e. sufferage, the abolishment of discrimination and exclusion, and so on. Great, awesome. Except that's not really what they're asking for, nor does that accurately represent the policies that feminists have actually pushed into law. Also, we're no longer living in the dark ages, the "glass ceiling" is nothing more than a myth today (at least in the west) and exclusive men's-only clubs and things are virtually extinct.

What you can see plainly today, rather, is a growing number of exclusive women's-only activities, clubs and so on, justified by "equality", but plainly discriminatory. And that is precisely what they want; positive discrimination. They want to have their cake and eat it, but they don't want to buy the ingredients, do the work of making the cake, or clean up the kitchen when they're done. They have "affirmative action" laws that force businesses to hire women even if they basically refuse to work or do a poor job, laws that force businesses to employ and pay (non-working) mothers, "no-fault divorce" laws that allow a woman to walk away with everything a man owns based solely on her word, and laws around rape which provide no meaningful punishment for false-accusers (and offer zero protection for men who are raped). There's your 'equality'.

And those are just the legal consequences. The social consequences are much more pervasive and insidious. "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" has increasing become the battle cry of the now feminised media. Both in advertisement and on television shows, men are now portrayed as thuggish, stupid, helpless children being 'humorously' guided only by the wise and benevolent nagging of a woman. In public school, it's now apparently mandatory for teachers to repeatedly spout the "fact" (which they pulled out of their feminist asses) that "women on average are smarter than men" (but equal!), since you see so many of them in engineering fields, or actually doing anything meaningful besides filing their nails and occupying a spot on front of a TV, of course. "Sex education" is practically nothing but pseudo-scientific misandry, thinly veiled by the paper authority of the government run school system. Men are portrayed as nothing but sex fiends and rapists, looking to fuck and chuck as many women as possible, and basically implicates them as walking STD infections or potential unplanned pregnancies.

The sort of sickness that feeds feminism (and misandry) comes from both sexes, though, and is a deeper problem than feminism itself. In female "tribal wisdom", "Welfare is only a man away", and in male "tribal wisdom", "the man is supposed to be the provider". Both sexes apparently agree that (strong, independent) women need to be taken care of by a man, nay they are entitled to it and the nearest man is obligated to do so for them immediately (in exchange for {the promise of} sex, of course). In other words, all the woman should have to do is wiggle her ass (or other parts) and the man then offers his paycheck for the mere privilege of being manipulated.

I've noticed personally that women tend to automatically place men into one of three categories. 1) Walking welfare check (ie free lunch), 2) Sex object (the thugs they actually sleep with, married women included), or 3) a creepy loser. In general, women think themselves terribly clever at being able to manipulate and shame men into these roles (and then taking advantage of the free ride), but if you refuse to comply their reality tends to fall apart.

Western women (and women in general really) tend to base their value on how good of a sex object they are, or rather how well they can control men with their bodies and whatever else. In conversations regarding relationships, they usually refer to themselves in the passive-objective form "me". "Romantic stuff should happen to me", "My boyfriend took me on a date", "My boyfriend went shopping with me" and so on. Rarely, if ever do you hear a woman say something like "I decided to do x", or "I took responsibility"; making themselves an active subject just does not occur to them. And yet in the same breath they want to cringe and whine about men treating them as sex objects, but they whine even louder when they don't. They want to be a passive object, with no responsibilities and all the privileges of a relationship, and they also want to be treated as a real person at the same time, again just as long as there are no responsibilities to this (like considering other people's feelings and needs).

The Man Trap

In order to successfully shirk all responsibility for contributing anything to anyone, women require a man that they can manipulate into shouldering that responsibility on their behalf. Unfortunately, in the modern western world, governments are more than happy to assist them in forcing men at gunpoint to do their frivolous bidding. It grants politicians more control, after all, so why shouldn't they?

Probably the most obvious is that divorce courts are extremely biased in favor of women. Even a woman who has no children and contributed nothing to a relationship is entitled by law to alimony for life, to sustain the "lifestyle she's used to". If there are children, she's entitled to them, too. They came from her vagina, after all, and so they must be her sole property. And to child support, since she's a helpless (strong, independent?) woman who can't take care of them without a cash cow to pay for it.

If the man tries to do anything to protect himself, ie a prenup (or stronger contract, preferably), the woman inevitably complains that it's an "unromantic legal contract". Mind you they have no such complaints about marching down to the government office to sign your life away in an unromantic, legal marriage contract. And hey, they even get a big, shiny expensive rock and a huge narcissistic party thrown just for them as a bonus.

If that's not bad enough, in many places they are trying to enact laws that imply that any woman who even lives with you for a certain amount of time is entitled to the full benefits of marriage; ie all of a man's possessions and income. Of course, even if you avoid that, governments have plenty of programs; single mother ghettoes, single mother welfare and so on for which they will force you to pay taxes. Consider yourself successfully parasitized.

Society Pays

Whenever someone tries to get privileges while neglecting any responsibility, there are negative consequences. Aside from the huge legal-economic vacuum that feminism represents, there are social consequences that are far worse.

In the UK especially, women are basically never held accountable for their actions. If a woman does something deliberate and criminal, it's written off as "she couldn't help it, she didn't know any better, she needs a counselor or therapy". As a result, women commit heinous crimes (often against men) and walk free. It's also very popular in the UK for women to abandon newborns in dumpsters, parking lots, and so on which occurs all the time. Of course, all they did was install "baby drops" at hospitals so now women can abandon their children at whim without facing any emotional consequences for it.

Not only that, but if a woman wants welfare without the bother of marriage, she can just have babies, then collect welfare and child support and get a free house on top of that. It's the children who really get screwed, since they're stuck with a manipulative parasite of a mother who tears the family (if there ever was one) apart at whim. They get to live in a ghetto and go to crappy schools while their mothers drink and pop prescription pills all day (and of course screw around with their thuggish boy-toy of the moment).

Indeed, the destruction of the family has created an entire generation of thuggish-whorish delinquents and criminals. And the government, of course, then steps up to "save" everyone from the criminals they created in the first place. So you get fascism as a final cherry on top.

Things aren't quite as extreme in the US or Canada, but there is still a significant burden, and a very significant degree of entitlement and demand for instant gratification that plagues most wealthy societies. Implosion from a critical mass of parasites is only a matter of sooner or later.

A Political Movement

In no way am I trying to suggest that women are inherently insane, or parasites, or that no woman ever takes responsibility for anything, or that women are somehow less intelligent. The real problem is that, from a young age they are trained (in general) to expect infinite free lunches forever, as a part of an ongoing political movement called "Feminism" (free lunches for women only).

The thing is, regardless of what individual women may think, the women who are actively engaged in the political workings get rewarded simply for doing so. You can get funding, prestige, and political power just for whining about having a vagina and about life being totally unfair on account of that fact. Just like every other politician, they are driven by greed and power-trips.

The government also likes feminism, since it allows them to control men through women, and to control women through free-lunch programs. Ultimately, group-think makes people stupid, and totalitarians have no use for intelligent serfs. It's much easier to control a group that undermines itself through competition and groupthink than one of individuals who cooperate and think for themselves. Divide and conquer, and all that.

A Case of Brainwashing

From a young school age forward, kids in school are indoctrinated with feminist double standards, and then especially so in "sex education", which is more like part religious part feminist propaganda. There's a long list of such double standards which degrade both men and women, and create a culture which actively enables female entitlement (to basically anything they want). The gist goes something like this:

“Us women don’t need men…
…what do you mean men are on a Marriage Strike? How are we meant to cope! Grrrr.”

“Children don’t need fathers, and are probably better of without a man in their lives…
…but men who walk out on their children are scum for depriving kids of a father.”

“Women are financially independent from men and can cope easily enough on their own…
…but we still want – nay, demand – child support, alimony, welfare benefits for single mothers, etc.”

“Men and women are equal…
…but women are better.”

“Gender roles are pure social constructs; no behaviour is naturally male or female…
…but men are naturally bad and women naturally good.”

“Women are just as capable as men, if not more so, in the workplace…
…but we do insist on positive discrimination/affirmative action to ensure we can succeed.”

“Women are actually stronger emotionally than men, better able to handle stress and emotional pain…
…but we demand to be wrapped in legal cotton wool to protect us from the evils of sexual harassment.”

“Women are the more gentle, nurturing and caring sex…
…but we want the right to gleefully abort our babies at whim.”

“Feminism is not about hating men, it’s about equality…
…(insert random Andrea Dworkin or Germaine Greer quote here.)”

“Making wide generalisations about a gender is unfair and nasty…
…and all men do it all the time.”

“It is terrible that women are objectified and equated with their sexual organs…
…come on fellow lezzers, let’s watch The Vagina Monologues!”

“Women are not in anyway impaired by PMS…
…but we reserve the right to use PMS as an excuse to justify murder.”

“There is no excuse for domestic violence or child abuse…
…except having a vagina of course.”

“For a woman to sleep around it means she is liberated and free…
…but a man who sleeps around is a womanizing sex-crazed bastard!”

(from another blog)

"Many women do behave as if equality means getting their way all of the time. True equality means equal consequences, equal effort, equal expectations, etc. Many women want their cake, they just don’t want to have to pay for the ingredients, make the cake or clean up the kitchen afterwards."


Eternal Bachelor : Scary tales of feminist reality in the UK.