Awareness: 5 Lies We Are Told?

As I go through life, I hope to get through it with as little pain as possible – at least that’s the way I’ve experienced it.

I figure that one of our primary goals in life is to keep the body as comfortable as possible.  I go by the thinking that everything goes to its very basic – personal comfort.  We know we can’t get out of this life alive I’ve often wondered (I am a whyz-guy) about people’s motivations and the way in which we achieve our goals and plan our lives.  From these learnings, I’ve come to create certain truisms about people and life..

In this post, I focus on how we relate to each other and how we’ve been socially conditioned to believe certain ‘facts’ about life.  These are the kind of life facts that help us get along in life and keep ourselves safe and more assured.  We live by these because we’ve got nothing else, and we’ve heard these over and over and over again in our lives as truisms.

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How I achieve it is based on everything I’ve ever experienced and learned throughout my life.  Some are personal life tests, some from my family, from the media, and from the social conditioning this North American culture (here in Toronto) provides us.  Over the life of this blog, I will come to discuss these issues in greater depth; but for now, I’d like to share with you some of my imaginings and illusions I’ve come to park in my belief system.

As everything else in my life, it doesn’t mean I am married to these beliefs; rather, they are just some thoughts I am ‘trying on’ in my thought patterns.  What I do is test them as often as possible.

Why do I call them lies, you ask?

How did I arrive at my musings?

On what do I base my suppositions? 

Hmmm.  Funny you should ask.

If you happened to venture to my page explaining my background (and what I think about myself, haha), you will find that I carry a philosophical background under the labels of Humanism and Existentialism.  I think of myself, in other words, as someone who loves people and dislikes social games.

I believe that we are responsible individuals who can take control of our lives,
and actually have complete control of its outcome.

That’s not to say many outside influences shape our thoughts and actions, but I do believe we can overcome those influences and challenges.  I think that we, as a specie, are very special individually and as a group.

Given these motivations, I tend to look to the positive as much as possible.  I’ve had enough challenges in my own life to have the opportunity to challenge and stretch myself countless times.  I could see life as a problem.  I dunno, but I figure it can’t be all that bad because I am still alive and kicking … and I needed a lot of help and love from others to get me here.

Along the way, I saw a lot of recurring events/nightmares coming up in people’s lives that didn’t make sense.  It wasn’t until I developed deeper relationships with others that I was able to make some kind of sense (at least to me) of this wonderful mystery called life.  It left and impression, that’s for sure!

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So what I’m getting at is that I’ve probably ‘been there and done that’ as far as life experiences go and I’m blessed to have had the ability to survive it and tell.  Through these experiences (even in my limited knowledge) I’ve both conscious and unconsciously tested these lies – and I personally hold them to be true to my belief system (and not in any particular order).  What do you think?


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The 5 BIGGEST Lies of Life

LIE # 1: The Strongest Survive

There was a time in our history of humankind where this was evident and true.  In those times, physical prowess is what got you what you wanted and needed.  As we’ve become more intelligent and created systems, processes, and events that make it easier on our physical lives, we no longer need physicality.

We’ve recorded too many instances over the last few millennium to doubt that brains make the difference.  Heck, the 19th and 20th centuries were a hotbed of inventions, thought, creativity, and advancement.  I figure we’ve been hanging on to an out-dated lie.

LIE # 2: Knowledge Is Power

This lie is a child of the demon above – and we have taken this lie to be something motivational.  Sadly, (the way I see it) I think we’ve gone too far with this one; and even more >> it is missing the real power and misleading us into thinking knowledge is actually power.

Give me a moment with this one, if you will.  First, I am not suggesting at all that one forgets about seeking knowledge.  Knowledge is important because it gives us awareness.  But still no power.

Think about it: How many people do you know that are very knowledgeable but are not very successful/powerful in their lives?  How much knowledge do governments and powerful organizations have and still mess up on a regular basis?  How often do you see people that rhyme off statistics and observations yet really don’t know what the heck is going on?  This is what I figure: 

Knowledge is only the FUEL –

ACTION is the TRUE POWER.

 It doesn’t matter how much you know.  What we need to do is USE THE KNOWLEDGE so we can take action.  Our actions can be more effective with knowledge – but pity the soul who still lives in this lie.

LIE # 3: Trust is Earned

This is one of those lies that goes right over our heads.  We’ve seen it countless of times – someone breaks the sacred trust between them, and the victim of the broken trust states that people now have to earn his/her trust.  A lot of us live that mantra and really believe that trust is indeed earned. Yet, we fail to realize that trust is actually something that is automatically given to someone else.

We play head games with ourselves into thinking that there is a certain degree of mistrust, inevitably, we GIVE them our trust.  We have to or we would never get anything done.  That’s why we have contracts – to help us trust the other in business dealings.  It gives us a remedy (to sue) when the trust is broken; and as we know, a lot of weight is given to a WRITTEN agreement.

What actually happens is that we give the trust (sometimes reluctantly) and
expect the best outcome.

We sometimes shake on an agreement as a symbol
of showing each other that integrity in the agreement is based on trust.

When the trust is broken, we are heartbroken (and we express it in different ways) that someone would do that.  Then, in the heat of the pain, we declare that from now on, trust is earned – and that goes for everyone.

Sadly, we often go too far on this one.  If anything, it would be better for us to declare that the one particular individual has to re-earn the trust they broke.  It would be shameful to make it a blanket statement.

If we knowingly and willing gave everyone the trust we all deserve, we could possibly experience a shift in cooperation and community.  Just this acknowledgement can make a difference, as I have had the amazing times meeting a broad range of individuals who contributed so much to my experience of life.

LIE # 4: There Is NO Fear.

This lie has been one of my issues with the world because of it’s misuse.

In one way, there is a lot of truth in this statement.
Unfortunately, even though people use this mantra to empower themselves or others,
the true essence is missing.

It is not a saying to be played with any more than telling someone they are going to live to be 100 years old.  Yes indeed, it is possible, but unless you have all the facts and you are doing all the right things, then the possibility of achievement is limited.

And when it comes to fear, there is a lot of limited information given and not enough depth to the conversation.  So, if I may, allow me to expand on my philosophy on fear.
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In empowerment training (like athletics), there is a belief that there is NO FEAR.  We are told that regardless of what people are saying, how you are feeling, and what is going on, you have nothing to fear in your drive to achieve your goal.  To their credit, the teaching advises us that we can overcome the fear – with the benefit of being c
ourageous.  And while this is a noble thought in assisting to raise someone’s ability, it only goes part of the way without fully explaining the depth of the teaching.

Without going into great detail, I suggest that we remind people that our beliefs about fear, courage, excitement, etc., are not based on reality.  Rather, we make up stories in our head about our feelings based on what is going on around us.  Here’s an example of what I mean.

The way I was able to eliminate fear completely when it came to performing publicly (not overcome – it never existed except for the first time) was to realize that I was letting a bodily feeling tell me how I should feel emotionally or psychologically.  So this is how it went:

I was around 8 years old and was studying piano music with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.  I guess I was pretty good (though I had no thought about it at the time) because soon after starting, I was playing in recitals and other public venues.As I said, it happened only the first time I ever performed.

I remember feeling my adrenalin rushing through my mid-section and working its way to my heart.  I was starting to breathe a little heavier and my legs became weak.  As I sat, I remember having thoughts of what those feelings meant.  Given my family, the first and most obvious answer was “fear” and “nervousness”.  I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way because I loved playing the piano (still do) – yet here I was – scared and nervous.

I can’t remember who said what and how it was implanted, but I arrived at a profound understanding about life.  I realized that I felt the very same way when I am practicing and playing music (singing too) at home or school.

I had the exact same bodily feelings – adrenalin, speeding heart, goose bumps, etc – when I was alive, excited, and experiencing full self-expression.  THE EXACT SAME FEELING – except my brain called it something different because I was doing something else.  Therefore, since the feeling is the same and just my thought about it was different, then I can change the thought about the feelings.

Instead of saying I was nervous when performing in front of a lot of people, I told myself I was actually excited about performing.  I still had the same feelings; but instead of feeling bad, I felt so much more excited that I often performed beyond my wildest imaginations.  Ever since, I never ever had any fear of performing (acting, singing, speaking, training, etc).  As a result, I never have to even think about fear because it is not a part of my being.

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A couple of interesting thoughts on this.  First, for many years, I thought there was something wrong with me because I could manipulate my feelings about my motivations.  I thought I was doing something devious or mentally imbalanced because I didn’t think other people would do the same thing.  But I was addicted, so I pursued every interest I’ve ever had regardless.

The second thing to mention that this knowledge about fear has given me so many more enriching experiences and deeper relationships.  One example is my desire to always be in school or training of some kind.  If it interests me, I’ll try it out.  Because I am not afraid of failing, I always have great experiences with learning.

LIE # 5: The World has Truth (or Meaning)

In a way, this is tied in with the thoughts on Fear.  As I got older and learned more about life, I realized I wasn’t crazy (or really was!) because understanding that meaning is an individual thing with transient motivations depending on the individual, the culture, and family background.

     Of course, we know the world has no real meaning and definitely no single truth;
yet we will fight to the death to protect the meaning we have given.

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Meaning and truth are a funny couple too.  It’s like a double-edged sword on human relationships.  Which one is worse: We give meaning to something and we create a truth to make a fit, or we create a truth and fit it with a meaning to validate it?

I guess there could be two ways of looking at the problem with truth and meaning.  The great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, ”the thing is to find a truth which is true for me…”.  So given the world changes all the time making truth a constantly moving force, can we live with long-held truths passed down over time?

Secondly, given we know that some people are going to defend their truths and meaning to the mortal end, can we accept their belief systems as theirs?
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Here’s a bonus:

Wind Blows

This is only my illusion about how science works here.  Since heat creates a vacuum in the atmosphere, cold air would be sucked into it creating an effect that feels like blowing.  It’s really wind sucking and not blowing.
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Any thoughts?

Benni’s Dirty Secret

From his darkened bedroom window in the attic, Benni poked his head out into the snowy and shadowy night of winter and wondered if he would survive falling three stories to the cold ground below.

His worst-case scenario would be to have him end up living through the sudden impact of hitting the concrete below rendering him helpless and crippled. The last thing Benni wanted was to possibly survive become further dependent upon the very person he had come to despise.

Not cognizant of the significance of yet another beating at the hands of his father, Benni felt a wave of desperation overtaking his thoughts. He could not understand why his father would beat him again; after all, he did nothing wrong – again. How could it possibly be wrong to just be a kid?

He would prefer to cry and get it out and over with; but he couldn’t – not any more.  It seemed like a hundred years ago when he last shed a tear. It seemed like there wasn’t a good enough reason to cry anymore.

Too young at thirteen years old to understand, little did he know that the life path he was unknowingly thrust upon would take him on a bipolar journey of constant crises that would take forty years from which to recover.  Worse still, while he continued to beat himself up, Benni didn’t know it was not he who was broken – it was the dysfunctional culture of his family; and it gave rise to a defining moment in Benni’s life that began his subconscious decision to break free and move towards a life reflecting the many he witnessed outside of his family.

***

Having moved to Toronto to raise a family and seek the promise of prosperity, the Smith’s were escaping a cycle of misery and disappointment that haunted generations before them.  Their hope was to free themselves from the memories of a village where ‘less’ was the accepted norm and a humiliating handout was the grudging practice.  Dad lived with anger, and Mom with fear.  Socially under-developed, they arrived in the big city with lowered eyes and all the expected baggage: poor, uneducated, authoritarian, and waging the constant battle for power and status.

Christian leanings were strongly held and literally enforced, so it was only natural to soon begin a family with the belief that “He” will provide.  With steady jobs and a promising future, their salvation and rewards of happiness was only around the corner – or so they thought.  They didn’t realize their cultural patterns of thinking about life and living (behaviour, knowledge, and coping techniques) passed on from their parents were not left far behind in the past.

Before long, the Smith’s had babies popping up almost every second year.  They didn’t count on the incessant struggles increasing with each newborn; so by the time the final and eighth child was born, life was a living hell of diapers, debt, and desperation.

***

Benni was the firstborn son and much was expected from him.  Naturally bright and talented, he was seen as the great hope and source of pride for his parents early in life.  He was rewarded with choices not afforded his siblings as early as possible.  While somewhat lonely and isolated at times from being away from home so often, Benni was thankful for the opportunity to experience life away from the constant circus of sibling battles waged within the household.  Unfortunately, he did have to return to the home every day and he could not escape the toxic environment brewing of anger, frustration, and resentment.

Because of the poverty in the family, only basic needs were met.  Both parents had to work with he holding down two full-time union jobs and she working in factories not conducive to her chronic asthma.  Expected by everyone except themselves, family relationships snapped without repair, and the constant need of the children for attention always going unfulfilled.  Without the time or energy to cope, parental responses to the demands of the children became increasingly abusive psychologically, emotionally, and physically.

Fearful of his father’s wrath, Benni quickly accepted this way of life as the normal way of coping with life’s stressors.  It wasn’t long before the parental teachings of frustration management became the family norm and it profoundly affected how Benni perceived life and his behaviour towards it.

Given his extensive exposure to life at a private Christian school, Benni knew something was not right, but he chose to avoid thinking about it because it caused him much anxiety when doing so.  The only bright spot in his life was the love, inspiration, and nurturing he received at the choir school far from the asylum he called home.  This allowed him to detach himself from the stress of the family and focus on his own individual training and education goals with, of course, the demanding approval of his father.

From all his outside activities, Benni received guidance to become a healthy boy who flourished.  He grew into an academic scholar, as well as reaching a small level of virtuosity in music.  In spite of the evening crises at home, he was able to achieve a level of psychological competence and success in all of his endeavours by pretending he was just a visitor to the family home  – with the priests and church actually being his real parents and home.

In spite of the conflicting environments to which he was exposed, Benni was able to keep the daily troubles (and secrets) in the back of his mind even though he was constantly exposed to (and perceived) the ‘odd’ behaviours of love and affection he witnessed from his classmates and their families during social and school functions.  Sadly, when Benni reached thirteen years old, he was withdrawn from the school, and everything changed.  His private, secret world disappeared forever.

Living again at home “full-time”, Benni was beginning to experience the full force of his father’s brutality.  Having disappointed his father by wanting to pursue interests other than music and religion (Benni wanted to become a priest), the privileges of being ‘the one’ quickly vanished.  He was now subject to the same methods of disciplinary ‘correction’ as his siblings.  Daily beatings were expected to the point where any contact with his father automatically brought him to tears and wet pants even before he stood before that powerful force of authority.  Long-lived physical and mental scars were beginning to rupture.

Why, he wondered, does his dad never tell him he was proud of his achievements, or hug him, or smile when something was done to his strict level of satisfaction?

Benni was beginning to understand now why his siblings often lied; after all, when truthfulness was punished, “what was the point?”  Flurries of questions were soon to follow.  Was all the piety and goodness he modeled from the priests and other leaders nonsense?  “Was there really goodness, or were the priests lying to me all along?”  “Why was I being punished for laughing too loud?”  “Why, all of a sudden, was I beginning to wet my bed at night and chew my fingernails?”

Benni quickly re-learned the brutal social norms and values of the house (not home).  Along the way, stress, higher competitiveness, lower perception of control, and fewer feelings of ability to make choices were beginning to take hold of his consciousness.  It was no longer safe to invest his time or interest with his own family – and this concerned him greatly.  The only option available was to find some kind of escape from the madness because everything he knew was no longer valid, and the assimilation of new information was slowly changing his beliefs in ways in which he didn’t like.

Gone was the joy of life.  His vitality was being sucked out of him and feelings of depression were beginning to creep into his mind.  The house was a constant war zone and Benni never won a battle.  There was never enough of anything from basic needs and security to affection and trust.  A culture of various abuses was accepted and internalized in this family of ten; and as a result, dysfunctional secrecy became the norm that was successfully thrust onto his generation.

One day, after spending the weekend at a friend’s house without his father’s knowledge or approval, Benni was banished to the attic – after a severe beating and a broken collarbone, of course.  His father said he didn’t want to look at him any more.  Benni was labeled a disgrace for asking his friend to have him over, and “that kind of behaviour (begging) was simply not tolerated”.

Benni knew this was just another reason for his father to beat him up.  His father was always angry now, and everyone disappeared like roaches in the light when even a hint of his presence was felt.  The mother was always sick and she was fearful herself, so any assistance from her was non-existent.

As for moving his bedroom to the attic, Benni actually felt relieved as he finally found his tiny respite from the pain.  He was already emotionally detached from his family and he had nothing in common with any of them.  All that interested him now was listening to hockey games on the radio under a small spotlight in the darkened room and exploring his newfound talent for painting.

Emotionally and psychologically, the attic was taking its toll.  Solitary living, although a choice at the time, was sucking the life out of Benni.  Loneliness was a constant companion and the isolation drove him to a world where his only joy was reading and re-reading motivational books by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Norman Vincent Peale he stole from the local library.

***

Soon, Benni’s search for meaningful friendships outside of his bedroom walls was completely gone.  Endless days and nights brought lots of time to think and ponder about the meaning of life – his life; and somehow he felt this wasn’t something he should be concerned with at that stage in his life.  Not knowing it, but Benni was not developing normally as a young adolescent was supposed to become.

Everything was confusing and nothing seemed real as it appeared as if there were two alternative worlds in his same existence.  A part of him felt stuck and lost, yet the other felt as if he was going to become someone great and important.  A part of him wanted to meet new friends (but he didn’t even know how any more), and the other part didn’t want the emotional hassle with relationships.  Benni wanted to be a part of his family, but couldn’t bring himself to have anything to do with them.

He didn’t even know who he was anymore.  He wanted to believe in something positive again.  Breaching his teen years, he couldn’t quite articulate the feeling of a deep personal crisis forming in the base of his chest.

Benni went to the attic windows overlooking the street far below, opened them wide and invited the cold wind to choke back his first deep breath, and then fell to his knees.  Unable to cry, he looked to the sky and asked for help.  He then leaned over and exposed his head and shoulders to the frigid beast of fear.  With a long deep breath inhaled through his nose, he closed his eyes and wondered …