Shame: a form of escape that cannot be escaped
Shame is one way our human bodies feel a perceived loss of any one of the three essential pillars of survival: connection, value, or physical security. It is a very strong feeling state that is inextricably linked to our social nature, which undoubtedly evolved to help human beings enhance group protection, productivity, and procreation. It can become a deeply disturbing feeling when a person senses that he or she does not "fit in" or have a valued place in a group. The body reacts to "escape" it by actively seeking ways to elevate one's status within the group or serves as motivation to leave to form/join another group. Or the disturbance is more passively communicated through physical/emotional expression and behavior, which may elicit empathetic responses from others.
With the growth of hierarchical societies, however, human beings' proclivity to feeling and reacting to shame became a convenient avenue of influencing (promoting or discouraging) their attitudes, actions, and, ultimately, their sense of self. Our institutions of business and industry have likewise built themselves around threats and promises that amplify fears and longings related to shame.
So we have created a shame-based world for ourselves. It should be no surprise, then, that we relate more to life through our suffering than our joy. Most addictions serve as an attempt to relieve ourselves from one discomfort or another, as though the answer lies in our escape from suffering, not Love.
LOVE leads us to joy ï»¿throughï»¿ our suffering
BUT HOW??? This is really challenging without a supportive group of fellow human beings and without a regular practice that can help us to "rewire" or "reprogram" our minds and bodies. Our bodies evolved to function best within groups of other human beings surrounded by the natural world, not as isolated individuals in "self-contained" cocoons or small family units. Our bodies also evolved to be extremely adaptable. This means that, over a period of time, we can effectively shift patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. We can transcend ingrained ways of defining ourselves. Will, choice, & practice it takes.
For more detail, view the Sense-a-Books displayed in the right hand column of this page or visit the Books/Resources page of this website.
Compassionate insight into the "addictive personality"
I downloaded and read The Answer Model, A New Path to Healing (2010), by John Montgomery and Todd Ritchey, this weekend and found much of what it offers as being very helpful and probably quite true. I highly recommend reading it. It basically suggests that nearly all mental/psych dysfunction is related to addiction to the neuro-chemical effects of feeling states that evolved long ago to enable the human species to survive and procreate in a hunter-gatherer society context. We are essentially suffering from a mismatch between our biological design and the world we have created for ourselves which makes it extremely difficult to achieve and maintain internal homeostasis (equanimity). Montgomery's series of 6 short articles in Psychology Today entitled The Embodied Mind also provides a good overview of his viewpoint and approach: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-embodied-mind
LOVE is not what you think!
It seems out of "character" for mortal humans to be unconditionally loving. That is because it is natural for us to utilize built-in instincts, especially "survival mind," as the basis for thinking, feeling, and behaving, i.e. creating our "reality." Yet there is a capacity in all of us to transcend this operating system that relies on defining, judging, and reacting based on perceptions of contrast. When we decide to stop identifying with this approach and, instead, adopt an all-inclusive attitude of attending (noticing), accepting, appreciating (thanking), embracing (holding), and allowing whatever is experienced arising in our selves and others we discover how simple LOVE can be.
The images below illustrate this empathic and compassionate approach. Of course, since our minds and bodies are not accustomed to this approach, it will seem uncomfortable or disorienting at first. With regular practice (see the Books/Resources page for more information) it will begin to seem quite natural, and will open up a whole new way of being human, one without limitation, one grounded in faith.
I did not expect to attempt this dance.
Not much about it interests me.
Yet life always has a different plan
Than the one I imagine for myself.
So I give myself over to the choreography
And dance the unfamiliar steps again and again,
often feeling unsure, foolish, or inept,
Until one day, the movements flowing with ease,
I realize the dance had been created
Just for me.
Notice how white light cannot be "seen" without darkness.
This is a clue to how our bodies perceive the environment and why the dualistic mindset is how we tend to create reality. Look at the two examples below:
The experience of life, of being born, begets the concept of death. We are built to be attached to life, to take action to stay alive, and to procreate. Fear of detachment from life (i.e. death) motivates human beings, so we endlessly seek ways to "feel" alive. We continually look for evidence that we are safe, that we matter, and that we belong by being acutely sensitive to (fearing) anything that may indicate we are not safe, that we do not matter, or that we do not belong.
Perhaps you can now appreciate how and why suffering is built in to the experience of being human. And yet it is possible to transcend suffering. Of course this cannot happen so long as we take the dualistic perspective seriously. For more guidance on how to go beyond the "default" state of mind view the Sense-a-Books I have created by simply clicking on each red view book tab in the column to the right on this page or links in the Books/Resources section.
Notice how the mind seeks difference to define concepts
To proclaim "all is good" activates thoughts and feelings that deliver evidence of what is not good. Being with, accepting, and appreciating this human tendency for what it is, a necessary survival tool, is a first step to being able to let it go, to stop mistaking it for Truth, and to transcend it.
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All 5 A's Discovering Life Before Death Discovering Wholenesss Identity Mission Statement Radical Acceptance Practice Redefine Life Expectancy Self Image Suffering Happens Thoughts-feelings Transcending-suffering