Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zen and the Art of Living

The 7R's of living in community are as follows: Rules, Roles, Relationships, Responsibilities, Respect, Resources and Returning Cycles.
1) Rules
Rules are a specific body(s) of information … sometimes described as guidelines … that we as a group choose to live by.  These guidelines serve as the foundation for governing our living together. These rules can outline very complex international issues … these issues can differ dramatically between various societies … everything from traffic laws, criminal laws and the comings and goings of the social services safety net … to educational systems and a myriad number of variations on a theme … falling under categories such as social custom or common law … codes of conduct etc. 
History and simple necessity are often the originators of most social and interpersonal rules. Community or social rules are the vehicles through which we can begin the task of fulfilling our needs … for food, shelter and clothing, … Maslow and his triangle … as well as set into motion a safety element or environment within the social structure where an individual may from the sanctity from within the construct of the created social zone begin to search out love and acceptance and move up the socialization triangle to higher orders of completion. 

These Chosen Rules can set our direction and define our responsibilities to ourselves and with those that we share the system with…

2) Roles

·    Roles relate to the many “jobs or masks” we wear within the family and our community. 
·   Roles are often determined according to our community or family needs. 
·     Please Note: just because it is what the family needs does not make it healthy.
·    The healthy roles we play provide us with our opportunities for learning and growth. 
·     Roles can be channels for expressing the truth about our needs and us.  BUT…
·    The problem in the system seems to be that we were trained to be who we think we are. All this learning happened at a very early age. This training, often as not, contributes to the predetermination of the Roles we will adopt in our life and display in our community as we advance toward our adulthood.  It has a circular theme … what was learned in childhood is how we will be in Adulthood.
·     Our childhood training often demands that we give up true self. It is basically a defense strategy. We do this for the sake of the system and its survival … not ours necessarily.  We adapt a grab and run technique for our needs fulfillment.  This is refereed to as narcissistic depravation
Thus we cannot nurture our lost self unless we leave home at least figuratively.  Some of us have to break ties altogether … literally. 
We leave home by giving up the role that our system demanded we be … for the good of the system …  scripts and rigid unhealthy roles
These scripts defined us by what the system needed and not as us as an individual. 
This process of giving ourselves up for the greater need of the system denied us our authenticity, our sense of self and our sense of self-esteem.  Each of us adhered to these rigid roles out of our misplaced loyalty to the system we were born into.  The odd thing is that we got a sense of power and of being in control from doing this, but this entire process cost us dearly. To adhere to the rigid role we had to give over our sense of uniqueness, our sense of self, and the essence of being … just to maintain membership in the system.
We were born to be ourselves.  Truer words were never spoken.
To be ourselves is an absolute … something that to gain we must separate from the system that generated us and we must learn to stand on our own … be separate from the designation and definitions that either the system or our parents or our siblings had labels us with.  This process of breaking free of the our original roles and labels needs to often extend out into our community, how we are known and by whom … to teachers opinions or police officers or neighbours … to anyone we viewed has having influence over how it was that we thought about our self and anyone that our parents had abdicated their power and authority to for us.   
This phase of maturation is called negotiating your adolescence.  Now the oddity of this phase of maturation is that the vast majority of people don’t even know that it needs to be done … and for those who do … most simply don’t get to it until their late 30’s or later in their life’s process.
Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to put sons against fathers and daughters against mothers ... And a man's foes shall be those of his own household."
Leaving home means;
o   Separating from our family system. 
o   No longer living up to the idealizations and the fantasy bond of being forever protected by our parents or their stand-in(s)… surrogates … such as employers or social systems or friends or spouses. 

Only by leaving home and becoming separate, giving up the old role identification and standing up on our own can we begin the process of negotiating our adolescence/freedom … that will lead us back to a place of actually having a choice in life … the choice to have a true and real relationship with others even those who hurt us or let us down.  This most basic of relationships … with our parents … demands separation and detachment first before any possibility of a healthy relationship can exist for anyone who hails from any type of toxic environment.
PLSE NOTE:  For some, because of abuse issues it may be necessary to create some distance for a time from our family or its surrogate.  For those who've been badly abused, you will have to make a prudent evaluation of how close you can get to your family or surrogate without violating your own boundaries. 

3) Relationships
Relationships deal with the nature and quality of our interactions … us with us and us with others … but first us with ourselves.
To form a relationship we must first be able to relate and understand how to set the relating process in motion. 
Our comprehension of how relationships work (or don’t) lay at the feet of our parents ... those persons who parented us, Mom’s relationship with herself and dad’s relationship with himself and their relationship with each other lays the ground work for our understanding of how relationships work or don’t work.  Once this is appreciated or imprinted or impressed on us it then plays like a message on a tape recorder … over and over again.  There are variances that are explained by personality and other outside influences but basically the parents and their interactions set us in motion on how we will conduct ourselves during our adult relationships. 
To get to the root of the problem it is essential to plumb the depths of our own psyche and our own past … to release those lost and buried hurts and pains … then to grieve the losses we experienced.

4) Responsibilities
Responsibilities in one sense refer to the level of maturity we have reached, or how we handle ourselves both privately and publicly, and more importantly how we handle getting our needs met … especially our dependency needs. 
Our inter play with other people, and the roles we choose to fill in the interacting process with them are simply expressions of our sense of our ability to fill our own needs through inter play with them.  Often as not, responsibility appears to have something to do with providing inspiration or leadership to all who come into our spheres of influence. M Scott Peck pointed out: Life is what happens to you while you are busy doing something else.   Assuming the working definition of responsibility is a commitment to being involved … you with your life … in a complete, full and healthy fashion … thus being able to fulfill the ways of satisfying your own needs … it helps to understanding the difference between Wants and Needs. This is an essential aspect.

5) Respect
This starts with the individual’s sense of self and that sense of self is a by-product of very early developmental experiences. 
Its clearest defining qualities are related to time and how time and interaction with affective adults was spent … with those who reflect how that individual was viewed by them during the child’s first 30 to 60 months of life. 

It Is True That:

It is a necessity that we must first have respect for ourselves … it then follows naturally … that we next have to have respect for the rules we chose by … which we agree to … and conduct our living accordingly and build our social order around. 
On the other hand if we do not have this sense of respect instilled at a very early age then ... it is with great effort and difficulty that we will move through our lives
Respect is something that is purely experiential … it can be obtained anytime … but first we must know what it is that we are looking for … and then … where it is we must search to find it.  12 Step programs help enormously here as do other self help programs.  The book Iron John asks the question “Where is the Key hidden”.
One of life’s conundrums is that sooner or later we get our selves involved in attempting to make something happen or a series of things happen … where, in lay the problem that a necessary ingredient for those things to happen is we need to respect our selves to accomplish or complete the tasks we have set out for our selves to complete … now the complexity sets in insomuch that for the most part most of us don’t carry the necessary tools to cause the respect to be there because it is not part of our working tool kit …  it some how got overlooked … those the task at hand that should not be all that difficult becomes a very difficult task. 
The Basics of the concept is
o   A person cannot respect himself unless he knows the truth of himself.
For most the truth about us is lost back in the early begins … at times and places where we simply had to begin to pretend to be someone else just to be able to get along in our families of origin That Hurt(s).  It is also true that our every effort is to maintain the lid on this painful thing so that it does not get out and hurt us again.  The problem is that (neurotic) defense strategies themselves become more painful then the pain they were masking but our only defense to pain is to build another neurotic structure … mask … false self … to protect us from our pain of our reality.
Finding our lost self-respect is a prerequisite to healing.  Something a kin to Peter Pan recovering his lost shadow from Wendy’s drawer.  Now we have a place to look … and a direction to go in.

6) Resources
They are available to us on many levels.  Help will only help if you reach out for it.  It is necessary that you participate and utilize them … put them to work for you … it is your entitlement … they won’t work unless you work them.  I quote John Bradshaw from Healing the Shame that binds you.
...methods have been adapted from the major schools of therapy.  Most all therapies attempt to make that which is covert and unconscious, overt and conscious. These techniques can only be mastered by practice.  You must do them, and reinforce them by doing them again.  They will work if you will work.

Appreciating Compliance & Surrender

Compliance is motivated by guilt.  It is in fact an attempt to surrender without giving up control.  It is the attempt to appear to be doing what it is that is necessary to recover without actually doing anything that might inspire of the repressed pain to escape and hurt us again.
From my own experience this example:
It was in May 1979 that I first attended my very first recovery type meeting. 
I was teaching at Twin Valleys School and it was a requirement that I attend along with the students.  I never for a moment imagined in my wildest dreams that I … giver of the light … would have to stoop to this place of needing to go to a recovery meeting … but finally in July of 1996 I attended a recovery meeting for me … not for the hundreds of others that I had helped into various forms of recovery … but just for me …
Things in my life for periods of time had turned into a dark hell of my own making … it took me sometime to see this but it was true.
I thought I could always pull myself out … and I had … but when confronted with the truth of who and what I had become … me or all people … I mean I was shocked … hell I worked in the trade of saving folks from this kind of stuff and I knew better … nothing like beating yourself up.
I finally had to reach out and ask for help … I called a phone line listed in the yellow pages to get some information that I already knew …  in hopes that I could stall just one more day and when I discovered that I really could not … I walked into a recovery meeting at 8:25pm on that evening … I surrendered into myself and into my pain and into the process … fully and completely … on July 1st 1996, … I surrendered.
An interesting fact that I had to learn the hard way was: denial and delusion can continue in spite of the acknowledgment of guilt.  Guilt can actually be a way to distract one from the real problem.  Appearing to do something while avoiding it at all costs. 
For example, it's not at all uncommon to hear a smoker or an overeater condemn them selves for creating a dangerous threat to their health with their addictions.  This is certainly preferable to stopping smoking or overeating.  Alcoholics for example, frequently outwardly accept responsibility for the things they do when they drink.  They felt guilt about them.  Again it was a lot easier to admit to these harmful things that I have done than it is to admit my drinking ... My Life ...  is/ was out of control.  By being guilty … the Alcoholic can deny that their life was unmanageable and out of control. (Step one).  Guilt is a useful way to continue denial. 
Please Note:
Compliance and guilt are ways that an addict has hoodwinked many an unwary therapist.
Shame-based people tend to seek out and even embrace punishment.  Admitting guilt and paying for it in therapy enhances the denial of what they most deeply feared - quitting doing ...  fill in the blank. To have quit whatever it was ... fill in the blank ... then the individual would have to admit that his or her life was out of control ... drinking say ... thus by admitting that would expose the drinker as a flawed and defective human being.  No one willingly wants to have their face ground down into their shame or pain … the conundrum to the whole thing is that the only way out of the compulsive/addictive shame cycle is to embrace the shame not ignore it and pretend it does not exist.

That is what it means to surrender

Surrender is motivated by the acceptance of shame.  For an addict, surrender is the first true act of freedom since beginning the addiction.  It is best embodied in the following:
Talking about our problems, mapping out our family’s dysfunction is not the same as taking action.  Action means that I've let go of control and I'm willing to listen to someone else and do it his way, rather than my own way.
Leslie Farber discusses the problem of the disabled will in her book the Way of the Will … what she outlines is the mask of the supposed powerful person who can get things done … with great will power but the intrinsic problem is that this ability to get things done simply because he or she wills it to be so is a form of mood altering and is never permanent and is always illusive … temporary at best … and forms a driving force in a persons life that attempts to mask the truth of who they are … this is a form of dishonesty and in true fashion and form of dysfunctionality … the pain that this dishonesty ultimately brings often as not leads to the eventual undoing of the individual and their efforts. 
By the time most of us are ready to do something ... reached out or bottomed out ... the pain has reached a point of great intensity.  Our shame-based self-goes deeper and deeper into hiding, the intensity of manufactured pretend false self are increased proportionately.  We have no idea who we are. The addiction is no longer one of substance but we are hooked into hiding our shame … and by doing so we have created an insidious chronic pain of knowing that I was not the person I pretended to be or was supposed to be
We literally are be-side ourselves. 
This is the way of things … the form and function of the disease … we are coming to know as co-dependence.  Most of us who wrestle with it in some of its many forms had to wait until we dealt with its cover-up … alcoholism or chemical addiction or compulsive spending or eating disorders … what ever it is that we do to mood alter us away from our feelings.  This point is crucial point in recovery … this is why surrender is so important and why it is such a difficult place to get to.  For any acting-out substance abuser, the substance has to be stopped before one can treat the co-dependence (the disease of the disease) … alcoholism is caused by drinking alcohol.  Alcoholism is a primary disease.  That means it has to be treated first.  The same is true for other drugs and chemicals.  Food, sex, work, and people addictions are somewhat different.  You can't stop eating, drinking, sexing, working or peopling completely.  Total abstinence would be death to self and the species.  Each addiction compulsion or obsession has its own particular nuances for recovery but there are some commonalties.  One commonality is surrendering the grandiose will.

7) Returning Cycle
It is actually I suspect a natural law of the universe.  The process of returning cycle involves the process of giving and receiving. 
o   We get from life what we give. 
o   Or we reap what we sow. 
o   But then we give it back to life again. 
o   We give back what we receive, but we add just a little of our potential … our character and our talents to it before we pass it back into the universe … why … so we can find our sense of pride and self respect. 
Thus a returning cycle is not a punishment but it is the restoration of some community structure or form that is now enhanced by your effort rather then detracted your resentment.
It was observed many years ago that if mankind lived according to the principal of returning cycles many of the rules and laws of man would be unnecessary.