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 470 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. I-Tunes.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

"Thou Must" vs. "Fuck That!"

Copyright: kornilov14 / 123RF Stock Photo

I’ve always experienced a tension within me between feelings of frustration and the imperative to “do the right thing”. When the frustration dies down, “doing the right thing” comes naturally. But when it builds up, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to “do the right thing”. To do so at such times requires discipline. But it is right. This I don’t question.

When I feel at peace and full of generosity, I just want to be kind and helpful. But at other times, reason and conscience act like an electrified fence to keep frustration from bursting through. And just as an electric fence is hardly likely to truly pacify the herd, but rather make them feel resentful and oppressed, so the feelings of frustration can be exacerbated by the pressure to “do the right thing”, even when it would come naturally in a peaceful state of psychological freedom.

We are surrounded by messages of what not to say about people. How are we supposed to referred to the intellectually disabled? What kinds of things should a man say to a woman, and what should he not? What are we to call people of particular races? How are we supposed to respond to people’s religious beliefs, especially if they seems silly to us or we feel that they are hurtful to others? What about personal appearance? What if someone is really obese? What if we find someone physically repulsive?

There is no doubt that being polite and tolerant is the right thing. But when the pressure builds there is a little man inside me that wants to say the cruellest thing possible. He’s fed up with “doing the right thing.”

There is no problem when I feel at peace, and that is most of the time these days, but when I feel this contrary spirit well up in me and yet I continue to “do the right thing", I feel like a liar and a hypocrite, because I’m putting on a false, socially-acceptable front. This in spite of the fact that nothing would be achieved, and much would be lost, by not doing so.

And it seems as if this contrary spirit can be conjured up where it didn’t exist by the preaching of the well-meaning. Tell me I mustn’t be racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever and I want to use terms like “nigger”, “slut” or “faggot”. Because “doing the right thing” feels like oppression when you are implicitly threatened with punishment if you don’t do it.

I think this is why offensive humour plays such a role in our culture. We’ll “do the right thing” as long as we can let off steam by watching Borat do everything we know we mustn’t.

At the moment, I think this contrary spirit is contributing to the popularity of Donald Trump. He’s a real-life Borat. The only problem is that he is a politician who wants to lead one of the most powerful nations on the planet. I love Borat, but I wouldn’t vote for him. To many Trump no doubt feels “honest” for the same reason that I feel like a “liar” when I don’t allow myself to express the offensive things that are going on in my head.

Photo from Reuters

Now I’m not suggesting that we stop being polite and respectful, or that we just give up hope of the Trumps of the world ever finding that inner peace that would enable them to be polite and respectful themselves. But I do think we need to try to come to a better understanding of the relationship between that part of us which says “thou must” and the part that says “fuck that”.

I use my own inner life as a way to try to understand the world around me. If I find that the “fuck that” feelings are increased when the “thou must” comes on strong, is it not possible that the way we push for greater tolerance in the world may not be generating more intolerance? The “fuck you” may be offensive, but it is also defensive. It is a response to what feels like oppression. And if it feels like oppression then it is oppression. The problem is that we can’t see internal psychological oppression. Haven’t we all felt it though at some time, in some way. That point where there is just too much exploding in your head and someone tells you you shouldn’t be unkind and you just want to punch their face in.

There are no easy answers, but if we want to avoid social disintegration - if we want to achieve a society of sustainable equality and respect - if we want to be able to work together to solve the problems which face us - there is a commodity we really need to make our number one priority and that is what I would call “psychological space”. When we feel pressured to “do the right thing” it makes us want to do the opposite. This is especially true of those who do the wrong thing most of the time. Instead of concentrating on arguing about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, it would be more useful to view every human being as a resource the efficient functioning of which is in the interests of us all.

We could think of ourselves as cars. The people who do the wrong thing are like cars which are very short of petrol. We try to get them to go down the road. We stand in front of them giving them a lecture on which road to take. If they don’t move we get behind them and we try to push them. We get frustrated and we kick them. But the reason they don’t do what a car is supposed to do is because they are all out of gas. We tell someone off for their bigotry or selfishness or violence, but if they don’t have the psychological room needed to do any better, then we are wasting our effort.

When we confront the terrible conflicts raging through the world, from the battlefields to the boardrooms to the bedrooms, it may seem that what I’m saying is impractical philosophising. If someone is trying to make your life a misery, you can’t just say “I know it’s just because you’re out of gas” and expect that to make things better.

But I think that acknowledging that we are all in the same boat, that each of us behaves only as well as our psychological space allows, is a good starting point. Then we can work on what opens up that space within us. How can we find a way to let out all of our frustrations in a non-destructive way? How can we learn to be guided by the principles that foster community without feeling oppressed by them? How can we learn how to unconditionally accept ourselves?

The more space we make in ourselves, the more capacity we will have to help those who are "out of gas".


Copyright: jacklooser / 123RF Stock Photo

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for putting this out for our consumption. I just finished "How to be Free," and loved it. So much of it resonates with my interpretation of the internal and external forces in my life.

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    1. Thanks, Gretchen. Glad it struck a chord with you.

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