Solitude

Solitude
The word solitude spawns many negative meanings in the thesaurus: aloneness, isolation, loneness, solitariness. They tell me a comparable word is seclusion, and that relative words are: detachment, separateness, retirement, withdrawal, confinement, quarantine, loneliness, and lonesomeness.

HOW SAD that such a beautiful word beginning with solo (alone, singular, unexampled, unique, unrepeatable) and ending with the tude (a state) should be listed in our educational materials in such a negative way. Why not: The state of aloneness is the state of singularity, the sate of being unrepeatable, the state of being unique.
SOLITUDE–The state of being alone.
Alas, our society has diminished this state—relegated it to a position of negativity. When, in fact, it is the state of our existence—our ultimate state–the state in which we entered the universe and the state in which we will leave it. Society wishes to make us interdependent, but succeeds in making us co-dependent instead. The inefficiency of codependence is only now beginning to be understood.
Society, including our religions, has presented us with models, which have confused us.
The benevolent intent may have been to make us interdependent, the result, in many areas, however, was codependence. Interdependence is the result of individual singularity—individual aloneness knowingly participating. Codependence is the result of the absence of singular individuality, or, at least, the abandonment of singular individuality. Society has programmed us to give up our individuality, our uniqueness, to sacrifice it to the god of misunderstood conformity. The confusion of individuality and conformity is similar to the confusion of blind obedience and anarchy. Somewhere in these equations there is room for growth and understanding at an individual personal level–a level to be owned, a level to be developed upon freely. Solitude should be equated to freedom, not isolation. Solitude is not a state of negativity. It is where the work of individuality begins and ultimately ends.
Note: Codependence is also not totally negative. It becomes negative when it willfully replaces self-sufficiency.

My Mom—on Life and Death

“I believe” she told me one day, “that when you are born the ‘spark’ comes into you”. I attempted to have her tell me what she thought that ‘spark’ was. The Italian translation was ‘light’. She went on, “then when you die, it leaves—goes out—gone”. “All that remains is trash.”

She was Roman Catholic Italian and if you have interacted with many from that genre, they are different. Roman Catholics compress dogma, culture, ethnicity and beliefs to suit their purposes. Italians actually shaped the religion to accommodate their convenience, understanding, politics or the curse or blessing they were looking to apply to any specific imminent situation.

Now many years later, I ponder, “What is the ‘light?” Obviously, breath fits; but then so does the ‘soul’, knowledge, or even God. The statement is open to interpretation–kind of like a parable.

This conversation was not unlike many of Mom’s pronouncements—again viewed from way afar. I believe now that this and others I will share will indeed prove Mom to have spoken in parables. She did not give the answer, even though at seven you were certain she had. At 57, you were still contemplating the question and in the intervening years you had supplied many different answers. In keeping with your Italian brand of Roman Catholicism, you shaped the answer to accommodate your current circumstances.

Mom, however, revered life. She had a daily mantra upon waking of thanking God for another day. She repeated the mantra at bedtime.

Death, on the other hand, she dealt with differently. Once at her brother’s viewing I watched her go up to the casket and pull some coins out of her purse and place them in her brother’s pockets. “Why Mom?” was the question. The answer was a problem for me for years, at least until I was older and began to understand that not everything has logic.

She said, “The dead must have money not to get themselves into purgatory or heaven, but to be able to give some to others who cannot get there by their good works in life.” Doesn’t it just ‘blow your mind’—charity continues on your trip on to heaven.

How does hatred affect your self esteem?

There is a LOT of hate here in 2017. Oh dear Lord, the airwaves are crowded with it. It permeates the air; it is in our streets; and for many it appears to fill the bloodstream.
As a student of self-affirmation for the past 50 years, I found myself ‘hating the haters’ and falling into the cycle that spreads when hatred is shared. That is how it works, you know–find someone who has the same hates you have; share them; boil them up; spread them around; make your only discussions with people who share your hate; listen to only those news media who share that same hatred and all is copasetic. But is it? What happens to your soul when your mind, heart and intellect are polluted by hatred?
I know that many believe it was the disappointing outcome of the 2016 election that motivated their hatred. The winner was shocking, out of the mainstream, an idiot, ‘not my president’, etc. No, that was just the excuse. What has been happening in our world for as many years as I have been paying attention—that is about fifty–is the loss of self-love. Anyone who has learned to love and accept him or her self cannot hate another. That is not a religious statement that is a psychological statement and it is complicated.
Teaching ourselves to love and respect who we are is an endless task. Alas, we live in a world where we seldom have to do it. There are so many distractions for us to procrastinate starting or even thinking about it. Also, self esteem (self acceptance and self actualization) cannot be taught in school. No, there are no teachers. You cannot take a course in self-awareness or self-honesty. Those qualities are difficult and can probably never be mastered. Unfortunately, few even think to begin the process. Only people who have hit the hard wall of emotional stress and inadequate living consider its necessity.
I began my torturous journey when I had to consider my contribution to my failing marriage and the dysfunctional environment my children had to endure. It will always be torturous; it will always require the question ‘what is MY own behavior contributing to this mess?’
As I began reflecting on the hatred all around me and my own desire to ‘hate the haters’, the question became: ‘what kinds of cost to my self esteem will this bring? ’
And the answer is NOT WORTH IT. Not only does hatred diminish the soul, it pollutes the intellect and the tension, stress and turmoil of it probably destroys a healthy body.

America is becoming a country of Victims

 

Today is July 18, 2016. We have experienced several weeks of unbelievable tragedy—Dallas TX where police officers were targets; Nice France where eighty plus innocent people were purposefully run over by a madman in a truck; and Baton Rouge LA where again police officers were ambushed.

Why?

These REAL victims are the result of people who have been convinced they are victims in life and now seek faux retribution. OK, that is a complicated sentence—what do I mean by it?

In my last blog, “Americans are Starving for Self-Esteem”, I argued that freedom is tied to the reputation we have with ourselves and that reputation is tied to how much we love and respect ourselves—real self love, not ego. My next blog was to be a description of tools one must develop in order to begin recognizing how this true self-respect evolves. The events of this past week, however, reveal the erosion to society that occurs when individual self-respect is subverted by malicious decades of greedy, but influential, non-leaders who have become personally wealthy by convincing large swathes of Americans that they are VICTIMS.

Who are these villains?

Where do we begin? There are so many. All the people who come to you; pander for your votes at election time; tell you how they are there for YOU, but really only want you to vote for them and then they dump you. It is kinda like the old singles scene where boy meets girl—tells her how beautiful she is and then as soon as she acquiesces to his wants, he drops her and forgets her until he has that itch again.   In my years of counseling singles, I saw how this destroyed personal self-esteem. But multiply this kind of greed by the millions and see how city managers apply the same tactics. And then there are the really, really nasty folks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who pretend to want to help black people when all they want is to use them—telling them they are looking out for their interest when in reality they enslave them to victimhood as they themselves wear beautiful Italian made, expensive suits and live on the wealth they derive from speeches and preaches. Oh, they could have done good things and maybe they started out to do so. However, as time went on, they merely told their followers that the impoverishment in their lives was someone else’s fault. What does it do to one’s self worth to feel hopeless and helpless?

The Struggle

The victims who are gunned down, run down or blown up by the angst and malfunctioning of those who are victims of manipulation, are to be mourned and given prayers. So too the manipulated victims who have been convinced that they are not unique and beautiful, need prayers. Learning how to love you; understanding yourself; accepting yourself is what self-esteem is all about. You can never love and accept another, if you first do not love and respect yourself. Also, until one develops an awareness and love of self, it is difficult to identify the agendas of those who will make you a victim.

Our World is Starving for Self Esteem

Self Esteem, Self Confidence, Self Respect, Freedom and Choices

….. When I awakened from my dream that ‘happiness just happens and mostly to other people’ and began to look at myself a few decades ago, I read everything I could read, i.e., every pop psychology book I could find. Nathanial Brandon was one of my favorite writers and I actually used his writings in my lectures promoting self-esteem—that is after I became arrogant enough to believe I had some.

….. Through the reading I learned that Self Esteem is the integration of our self-confidence and self-respect. Both are necessary to balancing our world of freedom and uncertainty. Freedom means that we can make the correct choices–choices that will propel us to greater joy. Most people never recognize how their choices happen. Sometimes we don’t even know we are choosing. Oh, we think long and hard about what refrigerator we want to buy, what music we want to spend our money on; but seldom did we think about the consequences of smoking, unsafe sex, etc. These are not choices so much as spontaneous reactions. We also do not think that hating or not hating is a choice.

Self Confidence allows us to trust the tools of life to make good choices. Self Respect is the result of our understanding that we have goodness. Together these interact, to help us make good choices.

….. The understanding I experienced from this long process of self-improvement, made me realize how imperative it is for each of us to look to improve our self-esteem. Self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself.

….. The correlation between good choices and good self-esteem is indivisible. The importance, particularly in young adults, is diabolical. Young adults who have a strong sense of who they are, have the strength to ignore bad choices and peer pressure.

….. Most of society’s problems stem from an abundance of low self-esteem. People who don’t love themselves are incapable of loving others. (That didn’t come from my reading Brandon, it came from my Italian mother). Back two decades ago when I thought of this ALL the time, I recognized how onerous the problem was. How does one learn self-esteem? It cannot be taught in school because only a select few adults have even reflected upon it AND it is like everything else in life—if you don’t have it, you can’t give it.

Self Esteem and the Child Parent Relationship

….. Brandon states: “Every organism depends on its environment for its successful growth.”

….. Vegetables and flowers cannot grow well if they lack an abundance of good soil, moisture and sunlight. Unfortunately, they cannot choose to alter their environment.

….. Adults and particularly children cannot grow in an environment that does not offer acceptance. Adults are able to choose to transcend an adverse environment. For children, particularly in their primary years, they are at the same disadvantage of the flowers and vegetables. They cannot choose to alter their adversarial environment. Much worse, however is that children attribute their parents with omniscience and omnipotence—parents are all good, all knowing, all loving.

….. Brandon offers this analogy: “When human beings developed the notion of a God who is omniscient and omnipotent, they quickly added the attribute of all-good. It would be too terrifying to imagine a capricious or sadistic God. Therefore, if disaster befalls, the fault must be ours. Someone or something must be sacrificed to appease this God.”

….. Children need to be visible (real & separate) from their parents and in their parent’s eyes. A child needs to feel he can be his own individual self, with important thoughts and ideas. He needs to know that he is responsible for his choices and his ideas. He needs to feel parental trust in his ability to take responsibility for these ideas and choices.

….. When parents, by their behavior (sometimes very well intentioned) protect the child from hurt, or his own feelings, they deny him his responsibility to experience those feelings.

This blog comes from my very old notes.  I created the notes from several of Brandon’s writings so I cannot, after all these years direct you to a specific book he wrote.

My Mom — On Life and Death

“I believe” she told me one day, “that when you are born the ‘spark’ comes into you”.  I attempted to have her tell me what she thought that ‘spark’ was.  The Italian translation was ‘light’.  She went on, “then when you die, it leaves—goes out—gone”.  “All that remains is trash.”

She was Roman Catholic Italian and if you have interacted with many from that genre, they are different.  Roman Catholics compress dogma, culture, ethnicity and beliefs to suit their purposes.  Italians actually shaped the religion to accommodate their convenience, understanding, politics or the curse or blessing they were looking to apply to any specific imminent situation.

Now many years later, I ponder, “What is the ‘light?”  Obviously, breath fits; but then so does the ‘soul’, knowledge, or even God.  The statement is open to interpretation–kind of like a parable.

This conversation was not unlike many of Mom’s pronouncements—again viewed from way afar.  I believe now that this and others I will share will indeed prove Mom to have spoken in parables.  She did not give the answer, even though at seven you were certain she had. At 57, you were still contemplating the question and in the intervening years you had supplied many different answers.  In keeping with your Italian brand of Roman Catholicism, you shaped the answer to accommodate your current circumstances.

Mom, however, revered life.  She had a daily mantra upon waking of thanking God for another day.  She repeated the mantra at bedtime.

Death, on the other hand, she dealt with differently.  Once at her brother’s viewing I watched her go up to the casket and pull some coins out of her purse and place them in her brother’s pockets.  “Why Mom?” was the question.  The answer was a problem for me for years, at least until I was older and began to understand that not everything has logic.

She said, “The dead must have money not to get themselves into purgatory or heaven, but to be able to give some to others who cannot get there by their good works in life.”   Doesn’t it just ‘blow your mind’—charity continues on your trip on to heaven.

 

Keeping Our Secrets, Our Right to Privacy, The Patriot Act and Our Own Stupidity

So, we have politicians standing around for ten hours telling us how we will lose our freedom if the government can collect metadata under the Patriot Act.  So far there have been no reported incidents of the government trading in our personal secrets from the phone data they collected.

What I do see is hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens (and me too) pouring their hearts out on Facebook, Twitter, et al. Actually, today’ headlines tell me that a dating site was hacked (and not by our government) and millions of people’s sexual secrets have been exposed. Added to that we daily have homosexual groups petitioning for ‘rights’ to marry, thereby telling us their sexual preferences. I’m not really interested in anyone’s sexual behavior. I would like them to keep it to themselves. People I truly like and admire telling me their sexual preferences gives me a mental picture of them I could do without.

So just who is taking away our freedom of privacy? I am certainly not in favor of the government taking anything else from us and in particular not my right to privacy. Therefore, my logical mind tells me, I NEED to keep my own privacy and not put ALL of my life secrets on the Internet, where it can be shared, snared, and hacked. Wake up folks, nobody really cares; it is our own vanity that is our biggest loss of personal freedom.

Should I feel guilty about Baltimore

By Clare Dinnocenti

….. Guilt is such a burden and I refuse to accept it. Should someone feel guilty? Perhaps. But it is not I and it probably isn’t you. Let’s take a look at where the guilt lies:

  • First there are the people who have been trained to believe that others are responsible for their lives. These are good people but over time charlatans have convinced them that in order to succeed in life they have to be victims.
  • Second there are the charlatans themselves who exploited the ‘victims’ they created by having the ‘victims’ make them their leaders. These charlatans pass themselves off as champions of the ‘victims’ and actually project themselves into powerful positions and threaten boycotts to companies and decent people who oppose them.
  • Third there are the ‘citizen victims’ who accept the false promises of those politicians who care about winning but not about solving any problems. Unfortunately, the ‘citizen victims’ don’t seem to focus on the fact that they are voting for the same kind of people and these people continue to do nothing for them.

…….. What is to be done? The government and media heaping guilt on you and me is not going to make things better. It only makes us angry. Our response to such taunts as ‘black lives matter’ is, ‘yes they matter but nobody saved me, I had to dig in, pick myself up and save myself.’ At least that is how I think about it, but then I’m white and never had those charlatans telling me ‘it’s not my fault’. NO ONE wants to be the responsible party.

…….. I became a single parent when I turned forty. It was scary as hell. I had no college degree—I did clerical work. What to do? Going into welfare was not even considered. It was not in my biology. The charlatans who set up the standard of ‘it’s not your fault’ also set up the standard of ‘it’s their fault and they need to be responsible’. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of people became dependents instead of learning to cope, grow and hold their heads up high. This became a way of life generation after generation.

…….. The answer is difficult but I believe that people need their self-esteem. People need to work for their wages. Instead of sending welfare checks and food stamps, which is equivalent of a drone strike, i.e., you don’t have to look at the mayhem you are creating, handouts should be personal. Communities who really care about their people should have the ability to exact work for cash.   Believe me, if I had to pick up trash for my food stamps, I would be a lot more interested in learning how to do a different kind of work. But even picking up trash for my food stamps would give me back more of my dignity than getting it free. Nothing is FREE. Entitlements in this country have cost millions of people their God given dignity.

WAKING UP AMERICA

American virtue is receiving a lot of attention.   Finally, we are awakening to the fact that in our haste to make ourselves fat, rich and over-educated, we have neglected our personhood, our humanity, our goodness, our souls.

Professionals, in all disciplines, are asking the questions, “How do we begin to fix it?” “Where can we put the best effort to achieve results quickly?” In what has become an “American tradition”, the blame for the problem and the responsibility for fixing it, belongs to someone, “someone else, somewhere else”. Blame is fixed first and foremost with parents. Psychologists tell us that it is we, the parents who create positive or negative environments. We are the single MOST important role modeling a child receives. I agree. As a parent I cannot pass this responsibility off. There are no excuses. We hold the trust of these small people, our children. Each idea that transcends their formative, evolving intellects and spirits is influenced by us. We are more powerful than God in the evolution of our children. We are, however, a part of the society in which we live and, unfortunately, not God, but human. Therefore, let us look at the causes, not to fix blame, but to increase awareness and seek solutions.

America is alive. As a living resource, it is constantly in transition and transition is a process. Issues are not resolved instantly. Over the past 25 years many transitional forces were at work in America: women began to look for their own identity within themselves–this was and is necessary for growth. The repercussion of women’s search created a disturbance to the accepted routine and the general function of the home. During this same time, the standard of success in America and, consequently, the driving force for many men–some of whom were married to those women seeking their own identity–was education, education, education. The single focus of securing this abundance of education was to convert it to money and power. Although women may have initially sought an identity separate from that delegated to them by their husbands, mothers, fathers, etc., they subsequently subscribed to the same criteria as men, i.e., career success equals identity.

The environment described above may be an over simplification, but the presence of these conditions over the last several decades cannot be disputed. Was it bad? We didn’t think so. Nor did we set out to remove our focus from honesty, dignity, discipline, honor, trust and benevolence. We believed we possessed these values and that they would remain untouched during our pursuit of self-identification. It was inconceivable to us that it would be necessary to intrinsically cultivate and constantly reaffirm our morality during the exploration. There was no preparation for the overwhelming power of what became our materialistic focus. For many of us, the search was and continues to be unconscious. Insidious as drug addiction, success orientation slowly invaded our value system. Regretfully, we are unaware that the identity we so desperately sought existed within us, and not in money, houses, power and careers.

It is the self-environment we must begin to restore. When the self-understanding is healthy, erosion of a person’s value system cannot exist.

BUT HOW do we achieve this goal? We cannot return to college and take a course. There are no credentials for teachers. Only those who possess positive self evaluation can assist other, “If you do not own a loaf of bread, you cannot give half of it to another.”

The work belongs to us. To each of us individually. There are no short cuts, no quick fixes, no kluging, no hacks, only diligent attention to distinguishing honesty, genuineness, benevolence and goodness in ourselves and others. We cannot ask the schools to teach virtue. Nor can we expect our churches to restore it. It begins and ends in each of us. It is a resource, which lives, a process that requires transition. It must be nurtured and developed, but most of all, it must be given to each and every individual we touch in our lives.

 

Getting Old is Hard Work

When we are young we are given our preconceptions—being a kid is fun, being an adult is having the freedom to pursue and manage our lives, and growing old gives you wisdom and peace. This is a marketing approach given by parents, teachers and, I suppose, ourselves.

We need and want to look forward to something so we encase it in golden threads; the threads are spun to offer us a glow of wonderfulness to work toward or to reflect upon.

This is a very efficient system, which is used quite effectively. As children—birth to two, we have fun. We don’t know we are having fun, it is something we learn about when we are older and see the pictures and hear people telling us how much fun we had and how much joy we brought to everyone. By the time we are two however, we DO acquire responsibility—don’t hit siblings, don’t mess our pants, don’t throw our food etc. Oops here it comes.

Yes, there is always that big R word throughout our lives

This epistle, and that is all it is—a tome directed at my children and grandchildren to explain myself, will reflect on the second phase mentioned above “adulthood” often. Looking at the span of life however logically: as a small child you do not have the skills to record or explain your opinions; as an adult you do not have the time nor the insight (you are too busy gathering the experience that will lead to insight). Entering old age, however, one has more time and finally that freedom we were supposed to have during our median adulthood.

It is the circumstance of available time and the need to share my thoughts that place me before the computer to write this epistle. You see old age has many faces and paths. There are incredible role models for how to “mature” gracefully and beautifully. What I mean here is that we are occasionally given a Birdseye view of productive notables such as Henry Kissinger or former President George H.W. Bush. We see them as contented contributors to society—still engaged.

Alternatively, we see old retired people in our own families. We can even observe, particularly in my case, those who have will and stamina and those who have become “medical groupies”. Don’t get me wrong; we all have to march to the beat of bodies that are becoming inefficient. We all must be proactive in taking our lipitor, diabetes drugs, etc. That is our RESPONSIBILITY—there’s that word again. There are those my age, however, whose lives revolve around their medical history. They fill their lives and our ears with endless tales of this operation or that medicine. They thrive upon sad or glorious medical escapades.

As I approach my 67th birthday, I currently fall into the strong will and stamina category. I suppose I had better capture this phase quickly for one of the realities of old age is that you can never be sure when you will be “overcome by events” and find yourself a “medical groupie”. Without a doubt retirement is the worse thing that can happen to an old person. Imagine having to spend an entire day focusing on each little pain and its possible implications. Between the ages of 30 and 60 pains have cause and effect—worked too hard at the gym, etc. After 60, despite their possibly also having a cause and effect, they have wider and more sinister implications. “Am I getting fibermyalgia, like Arlene?” “Is this indigestion or is my heart beginning to fail, like Ethel’s?” “I wonder if I should write this down and talk to the doctor about it?” After retirement, these thoughts are not simply quick mind flashes; they become focus points for the entire day. Better, much better, to have other things to fill a day. For those, and I am one of them, who continue to work and pretend—out of perceived fear or real fear of being sent to retirement, to be younger than we are, another set of requirements opens.

The pretense takes on a life of its own.