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, I-Tunes 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 502 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A Free Society Can Only Grow From Psychologically Secure Individuals

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

How often have you been in a situation where someone has said something which caused offence to someone else, and then that person criticised the first person, who responded defensively, and thus the fabric of the mini-community of which you were a part at that time was temporarily, or perhaps permanently, torn apart? Isn’t the world as a whole like that, with conflict all too easily arising and often becoming entrenched?

The root cause of this propensity for conflict is compromised self-acceptance. If our self-acceptance is dependent on the words or actions of others, then we are in a very insecure position. Were this not the case we could laugh off any insult, feeling no resonance between it and some internalised sense of self-contempt. But we do tend to internalise the negative feelings of others towards us, and by carrying around this toxic sludge, we make ourselves vulnerable and thus prone to falling into conflict with others. As long as we see the problem as an external one and fight for a change in the behaviour of others, we will be disempowered. But if we make a conscious decision to learn unconditional self-acceptance, we can “hurt-proof” ourselves, and thus make of ourselves a still centre for the growth of a healthy society.

I discuss the concept of hurt-proofing in more detail in this essay :


If we don’t feel compelled by our own insecurity to react against the anti-social behaviour of others, then we can come to better understand how that anti-social behaviour is essentially defensive. Just as we were trying to protect our compromised self-acceptance, so is the person on the other side of the conflict. Our state of relative security will enable us to make no demands on others, and this can gradually drain away the defensive motivation for their anti-social behaviour.

There are two forces at war within the human psyche and the society to which it gives form. Let’s call them spirit and repression. The spirit is the outwardly motivating force of the individual. It has no morality. It can propel us toward generous acts or it can propel us towards violence. Repression consists of the forces of restraint imposed on the spirit, essentially by fear. To the extent that our conscience may restrain our behaviour it does so essentially through fear of incurring feelings of guilt. And we obey the laws of society, to the extent that they may contradict our personal desires, for fear of being ostracised or punished.

When in a state of freedom, enlightened self-interest leads us to loving cooperative interaction with others. To the extend that our behaviour deviates from this state of health, it does so because we lack the freedom which arises from unconditional self-acceptance. So, ironically, it is the force which would curb and control the spirit which, by restricting its freedom, drives it further into the tight corner that produces hostile behaviour.

When we try to curb the anti-social behaviour of others through criticism, we are trying to make their self-acceptance conditional on their behaving in the way we think they should. It is natural that, in our insecurity, we will attempt a control strategy of this kind, because we are simply externalising the strategy we use internally to keep our own anti-social behaviour repressed. But the net result will be a negative one. We may force good behaviour on someone, but only at the expense of engendering feelings of frustration which will come out in some other way. Sustainable good behaviour can only come from love and love can only come from unconditional self-acceptance.

To renounce control strategies in all situations where they are not unavoidable (as they sometimes are to restrain violent behaviour) requires being free in oneself.

From the perspective of the free individual, where does the problem lie and what can be done about it? There are anti-social feelings which must not be repressed and there is an insecurity at the heart of us all which responds poorly to criticism and may try to defend itself against such criticism through anti-social behaviour. Where insecurity is extreme, such criticism - or even implied criticism - may be experienced as a form of oppression so severe as to drive the individual towards extremely hostile forms of retaliation.

If we are to have a healthy culture it depends on two things :

1. Freedom to express our frustrations. If we have anti-social feelings we will never move beyond them by repressing them. We need a culture in which it is O.K. to be as “politically incorrect” as we want to be within the understanding that feelings are not fixed beliefs. Of course this may be hurtful to those about whom insulting things may be said, but that is why “hurt-proofing” is so important. The more sensitive we are to being hurt by what other people say, the more we will require a society based on repression, and thus the more insecure and incapable of freedom we will become in a dangerous negative feedback loop. This is something which has been happening recently with calls for universities to offer “trigger warnings” about works of literature which might be emotionally disturbing to insecure individuals.

2. When we are not blowing off steam in this way, but genuinely want to address ourselves to solving social problems, then an accepting non-reactive approach will often be the most effective. (Of course I’m not saying that we should be accepting of violent behaviour.) We need to avoid attempts to control others behaviour by shaming them or threatening them with ostracism. We need to accept that their anti-social tendencies arise from insecurity and that acceptance is the answer to that insecurity. What our “enemies” need most is love. If we really want to help someone then we need to recognise that they have legitimate needs and that their anti-social behaviour is simply an ineffective way of trying to meet those needs. In this way we can find our common ground.

2 comments:

  1. Brilliant way of looking at criticism. Glad to see you writing again!
    ~lisa b

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa. I can be a bit of a slacker when it comes to regular writing. Always worthwhile though when I get a vote of confidence from you.

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