This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 576 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Psychology of the Right Wing and the Left Wing

The state of mental health for humans is one of unconditional self-acceptance. When this state is compromised we become selfish, that is our attention is naturally directed away from the interests of others and towards the problem of our malfunctioning psyche. It is just the same as when we are using a piece of machinery and some part of the machinery begins to perform inefficiently. We will naturally direct our attention there.

The compromising of our self-acceptance begins in childhood. We may be treated by some others as unacceptable in some way for long enough to come to believe it. And we will tend to come into contact with some form of idealism/perfectionism, approaches to life which bring with them the idea that self-acceptance should not be unconditional, but has to be earned. At that time, of course, we are learning the rules of civil behaviour. Criticism of our behaviour is often simply helpful feedback which, all other things being equal, we won’t take personally. What eats away at our self-acceptance, and thus sows the seeds of selfishness, is anything which gives us the message that what lies behind our behaviour - i.e. our thoughts and emotions - are unacceptable.

There are many ways in which we may try to fix the problem once our self-acceptance has been compromised. We may use material things. “I’m acceptable because I wear a Gucci dress.” We may use religious affiliation. “I’m acceptable because I’m a Christian.” We may use token acts of kindness. “I’m acceptable because I have a sponsor child in Africa.” We may use our political affiliation. “I’m good because I vote Democrat/Republican.” We may use sport. “I’m acceptable because my football team won this week.” We may use our own achievements. “I’m acceptable because I got my Phd./climbed a mountain/had a hit record.”

These methods of addressing the problem of our compromised self-acceptance, while often effective in the short-term, are generally not effective in the long-term. Like the junky we are fine when we get our fix, but when it wears off we need more. We are trying to fill the hole, but we don’t know how to heal it.

Healing the hole requires learning the habit of unconditional self-acceptance, learning to embrace all aspects of our thinking and emotion, no matter how frightening or repulsive some of what we find in ourselves may at first seem.

There are other things which can have a healing effect. Physical affection and physical pleasure (as long as it is achieved without causing harm to ourselves or others) has the power to reconnect us with the state of unconditional self-acceptance (and acceptance of others) which characterised our infancy. And anything which enables us to achieve a cathartic release of repressed emotions - of anger, sorrow, etc. - helps to drain off that which separates us from that emotional state. Anything from crying at a sad movie to pumping one’s fist to death metal may be a way of getting back in touch with our deeper humanity.

It is no wonder that we see so much anger and violence in the world. To lack self-acceptance is to be deeply needy. There isn’t enough attention from others, enough material goods, etc., to satisfy the ravenous hunger of our need. Imagine putting a pack of hungry dogs in a cage and only giving them enough food for a quarter of their number. There may be enough food to feed us, but not enough of the requirements of our ego-satisfaction. So our frustration and feelings of hostility toward others builds.

To what degree do we try to accommodate selfishness, and to what degree do we try to suppress it?

In politics, the right takes the approach that the freedom of the individual takes precedence while the left takes the approach that curbing the freedom of the individual is justified by the need to prevent the domination of the powerless majority by the powerful few.

Both of these approaches are compromises, and neither even attempts to do anything about the deeper psychological problem which makes a compromise necessary. The dialogue between left and right is a dialogue about how much discipline needs to be imposed within the cage of hungry dogs. The only way to provide more food is to address the psychological roots of the problem.

If we were to go all the way to the right wing, we would end up with a dog-eat-dog society in which the weak would be totally dominated by the powerful. If we went all the way to the left wing, we would end up with an oppressive and dishonest society in which feelings of frustration and hostility would build and build beneath the surface, unable to find any expression because of the need to maintain some illusory state of politically correct harmony.

Each end of the political spectrum represents a dangerous form of idealism. Political decisions need to be realistic and pragmatic - they need to find the best compromise between the two sides of our nature.

Compromised self-acceptance can draw us to either end of the political spectrum. “I’m an heroic defender of the rights of the individual!” we may cry. Or : “I’m an heroic defender of the downtrodden, the planet, the animals, etc.” Just two different brands of junkie-dope. And there are plenty of pusher’s selling both brands.

The unconditionally self-accepting individual has no desire to be seen as a hero or to view themselves as a hero. They may do something which others regard as heroic, but the desire to be perceived as heroic is a form of competitive thinking which makes sense only from the perspective of the neurotic character armour. 

From political leaders to church leaders to cult leaders, there are plenty of people offering up a steady supply of junkie-dope. To keep getting it you have to keep supporting them. None of them want to set you free, because they are junkies too. They’ve forgotten what freedom feels like.

In most cases this compromised self-acceptance leads to a division in the psyche between our repressed feelings of frustration and our conscience.

The conscience is that part of our ego where we store our learned expectations about ourselves which includes any form of morality that we may have been taught by our parents, teachers, religious leaders etc. Our conscience contains our ideas about what constitutes good behaviour. Of course the feelings of frustration and hostility, which grow out of the selfishness which is a product of our compromised self-acceptance, are often in conflict with our conscience. These feelings lead us to do things we believe to be wrong, and we feel guilt as a result. This is the war within us.

It's the villain who gives the hero his hero status

In trying to make sense of the conflicts in the world around us we come to see them as outward manifestations of this inner conflict. The individual on the left is trying to live according to their conscience, and thus will see the individual on the right as a representation of their own rebellious feelings of hostility to that conscience, a rebelliousness they are trying to tame. And the individual on the right identifies with the rebellious tendencies in themselves and identifies those on the left with the oppressiveness of their own conscience, which tells them that they should be more concerned about the welfare of the powerless, the planet, the animals, etc.

I’m speaking here of very general tendencies, so I’m grossly oversimplifying. Within every individual, right or left leaning, there is a complex of elements of conscientiousness and rebelliousness against the conscience. And the conscience of every individual is different. But I think it is worth considering how the individual’s view of and interaction with the world around them tends to be a reflection of conflicts going on within their own mind.

The central irony of this dualistic strategy is that, if the hero-status of those on the left is dependent on fighting against the right and the hero-status of those on the right is dependent on fighting against the left, then the continued existence of the opposition appears to be in the best interest of both, even though the conflict itself is damaging the survival chances of all.

Ideological dogmatism - left wing or right wing - compromises the effectiveness of any attempt to manage society, because such ideology is the warped product of our internal neurotic battle. It is not founded in a rational assessment of our situation, whether that be an acknowledgement of the psychological state of individuals, the way an economic system actually works, or what our ecological limitations are.

The key factors for effective politics are -

1. Accurate information.

2. Capacity for cooperation.

3. Pragmatic rather than ideological decision making.

1. We have an unprecedented ability to gather and process information, but there are those who, rather than assessing information honestly, will cherry-pick data and present it out of context to support a personally or ideologically predetermined course of action.

2. Our capacity for effective unforced cooperation depends on our level of self-acceptance. If we are a well-fed dog we will be able to work happily with others, but if we are hungry we will only cooperate if beaten.

3. What matters is whether or not something works. “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

No comments: