50 First Dates with Life

Hi, my name is Tom…

We classify things. It’s in our core nature. We also judge things. It’s in our core nature.

Satisfying or unsatisfying.

Balanced or unbalanced.

Safe or unsafe.

Yes or no.

Classification allows us to quickly and easily respond to opportunities as they arise in our environment, and the recall of classification status can be of great benefit.

…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head so I won’t drink it because I expect I might do it again…

…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it so I expect I will enjoy it again…

…the last time I met this person they hurt me so I expect they’ll do it again…

Where problems arise is the generalization of classification status to all individual examples of the class, or if the classification inhibits the experience in the Moment by placing expectations on it from the past. Even if the classified object has been consistent in its classification every moment in the past, if you are truly living in the present Moment then you must allow opportunity for a adjustment in classification. You can be ready for what you expect to happen, you can be prepared for consistency, but your actions every moment need to allow for change. Need to be open for growth and acceptance. Need to hold hope.

Expectations are only meant for preparation not perpetuity.

…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head. I will observe my consumption this time and see if I still need protect myself…

…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it. I will observe my consumption and see if I continue to love it…

…the last time I met this person they hurt me. I will observe my interaction and see if I still need to protect myself…

Our classifications and judgements are about keeping us safe and getting our needs met. They are information used to predict the potential of a situation to hurt us, help us, or hinder us, and we rely on a script built on the pattern card for the classification we’ve assigned to our past experiences. Yet, if our boundaries are sound and our faith solid, we can throw away those recipes for survival and instead trust our instinct for success and our universe to provide for our needs.

Every Moment should be a blank page ready to be written rather than a worn script being re-read. Each interaction should be an exploration of options rather than a rote recipe; even if the ingredients are the same, you can have different results by changing up the mixture.

In the case of the WWF players, classifying a Scammy Sammy involves a judgement of the patterns and characteristics typical of the fraud-minded users. Recent start date. Low average game score. Low average word score. Interchangeable first and last names. The fact they challenge in the first place. And most tellingly, the speedy chat attempt. Based on these ingredients, the classification as Scammy Sammy makes sense and engaging appropriate defense mechanisms is understandable.

Except…those same mechanisms should be in place for all interactions no matter the classification! The rule of no expectations, only boundaries applies at all times. If you are consistent in your boundaries then you are safe no matter if you’re in the lion’s den or the games room. Everyone you meet should be treated with the same respect, courtesy, curiosity and interest while maintaining healthy boundaries. Even Scammy Sammys are human beings behind the script and feel the barbs of judgemental contempt if levelled at them.

Accept the information your classifications give you, hear the options your emotional and judgemental minds feed you, but don’t act upon either until the Moment of choice is upon you and then act from compassion not from fear, because very rarely are you in true danger if you live inside solid boundaries.

If someone hurt you in the past, but are not hurting you in the present, then enlightenment demands you treat them according to the present Moment. If someone previously fit one of your class groupings but is not demonstrating those traits today, mindfulness demands you give the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries. If someone you have never met before seems to be falling into one of the classifications, observe the interaction but reserve your judgement and give them the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries until a moment of choice arises. If your boundaries are working properly, people’s behavior will not catch you off guard since you have no expectations!

Live it like Lucy.

Lucy wakes up each morning with no recall of recent events in the Adam Sandler romantic comedy 50 First Dates. A brain injury destroyed the connection between her short term and long term memory. Her core personality remains intact but she cannot consciously add new experiences to her life history. Once she falls asleep, which is when healthy brains compile the day’s adventures, her slate gets wiped clean.

She truly lives in the Moment. Not as profoundly as poor Tom who has a ten second recall, but she cannot consciously remember the days after her accident, good or bad.

Enter Henry, a man who lives for variety and challenge so cannot commit to relationships. Normally a girl like Lucy would never keep him, and would never fall for his ploys because she would catch on after one day. The next time she saw him, he would be classified as unable to meet her needs thus unsafe to engage with.

Yet those needs were based on the woman she was the day before. Her classification is based on historical data rather than the current situation. Her judgement is flawed because the woman she is does not now need protection from the man he is. Yesterday she may have told him he had one day to win her trust and then she’d be done with him.

Except now Henry always has one day. He gets to know Lucy inside and out, one day at a time, and learns how to be everything she could ever want while not being judged for who he is. His insecurities, his passions, his core self are not vulnerable in this relationship because any mistakes he makes are erased and he gets to start fresh the very next day. She doesn’t remember what happened the day before and he chooses only to remember the good parts.

Both are truly living in the Moment and both loving it. Lucy has no expectations of Henry, while he has none of her, yet both maintain their personal boundaries.

Until Lucy starts leaving herself notes. Judging Henry’s satisfaction with the relationship based on her values and experiences. She stops living in the Moment and relies on her thoughts and feelings about the contents of her journal, ultimately breaking up with Henry. Her conscious attention to her classification of the relationship as unfair to Henry thus inconsistent with her core values ignored the sincere joy both she and Henry felt. She felt like a burden on him and her family and admitted herself into a residential facility. There she figured she’d forget about Henry.

She was wrong.

Although her thinking mind and her feeling brain could not recognize the person in front of her or put a name to his face, her wise mind knew that face and missed the bond between them which was deeper than the events of each moment.

When we truly let go of the past, or at least the emotions associated with it if not the information collected from it, then we can start each morning with a clean slate and let those around us be free of judgement and classification while still keeping ourselves balanced and satisfied.

With our eyes wide open and full of acceptance and curiosity, we see only what we need to see.

Trojan Horses and Gordian Knots

No strings attached?

Look that gift horse in the mouth and examine every strand of hair in its mane and tail looking for threads which may inextricably bind you before accepting unsolicited gifts. Or unsolicited acts of service, for that matter.

Generosity is an aspect of sincere compassion but like all behaviours can be used for control. Extricating yourself from negative billing on an uninvited gift or service can be incredibly tricky. Have you ever sat on the phone navigating the layers of red tape required to cancel that free trial you signed up for on a whim…and you knew what you were getting into there!

Providing unexpected gifts or services is a common behaviour in those struggling to reach emotional stability. It is a way to secure connection without a risk of personal rejection – our society tells us it is churlish to turn away someone bearing gifts or who does nice things for us…until the moment where the words ” After all I’ve done for you…” come to haunt you.

There is no shame or dysfunction in choosing to involve yourself with someone who engages in dysfunctional behaviour if you do so with conscious compassion and joyful intent. Just like accepting an offer of a free trial book of the month club gives you a chance to see if you like what you get, if it meets your needs.

A gift horse does have value even if long in the tooth. A Trojan army can only overrun your boundaries if you are unprepared or weakened. Every interaction, unsolicited or not, with another human being is a bid for contact, an attempt to get a need met, an effort to find stability. Greeted with receptive curiosity, these threads of connection can weave beautiful patterns not possible without the tension created by the variance in personalities.

Understanding yourself and your needs and motivations will allow you to examine the details of Trojan horses to determine if acceptance is worth the cost. Awareness of your strengths and defenses will provide you with certainty as you decide to allow entry or reject the offering presented to you.

Knowledge of the patterns and personality of the gift giver will inform your decision; don’t trust anyone but love them anyway by having hopeful assumptions. Trust Synergy to keep you satisfied and in balance as you endeavor to meet your needs while being of service to others.

Even if they seem to be trying to pay you in advance.

That behaviour, being generous, is sincere, as is the motive, getting needs met. What makes the interaction insincere and thus unsatisfying is the lack of clear expectations. Perhaps because of a history of rejection and manipulation, they feel they must use passive means to meet their needs. Maybe they’ve experienced helplessness or hopelessness and are attempting to cultivate relationships in advance so when they need support they already have a line of credit with you.

With all unsolicited bids for contact, especially those involving gifts or acts of service, you are able to make an intentional and deliberate choice to accept the gift and its possible knot of hidden obligations, or choose to block access to your energy by turning the gift away at the door. Feel no shame or guilt in saying no because your boundaries still apply even in the face of apparent acts of generosity. Since Synergy gifts us with what we need each day, we are programmed to receive and resistance goes against our very nature!

You will feel the Moment a truly compassionate gift or act is bestowed upon you, and anything less than that sensation will have some degree of transaction involved, some measure of score keeping. When in the Presence of sincere compassion, the taste of satisfaction and gratitude will be unmistakable and you will feel compelled to accept out of sheer joy.

Behaviour Blame Shifting

An exit strategy

Receiving a no, with or without explanation, can lead to a battle of wills as the person seeking to meet a need attempts to obtain it from someone who is not offering to do so.

Leave judgement behind and forget about wrong and right. In the Moment, there is no such thing. There is only need and satisfaction. This is how the defense of temporary insanity arises, when the emotional monster overwhelms a wise mind for a moment and seizes control attempting to overcome an obstacle in the way of an unmet need. Needs are valid, but forcing someone to meet them against their will is not.

When you remove the lense of judgement from evaluating behaviour, and accept that unmet needs are the driving force regardless of your personal opinion on the veracity of the need, then you will be better able resist attempts to dominate your will since emotionality and judgement are not part of the operations of a wise mind.

But resistance is necessary when your boundaries are at stake, and understanding your needs and boundaries gives stability to your defenses.

Some people will try to smash those walls, breaking themselves in the process. They may go to great lengths, driven by uncontrolled thoughts and emotions, to bend you to their objective. They may become someone they don’t even recognize in their efforts to make you into what they need.

And then they’ll blame you.

Upon reflection, in a convoluted way it is your fault. You did not follow the script in their head and they responded to your failure to meet their need. Your boundaries drove them to greater heights attempting to scale them. If you hadn’t been so strong in the face of their desperate need, they would never have gone to such lengths to win you.

Understanding this rationale will allow you to recognize how and why blame shifting happens thus letting you accept it without defending yourself, justifying your boundaries, or arguing how you actually did nothing wrong!

What you did was watch as a scaffold was constructed right outside your door. You listened as the rope was strung. And you waited as they mounted the blocks telling you you’d put the hangman’s noose outside your boundaries. Telling you if you don’t let them in they are going to die. Telling you they are in distress and only you can fix it. You didn’t stop them from building their own downfall. Because you held your boundaries, you were to blame for letting them hang themselves. Using Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and shame they shroud the scaffold in a FOG smokescreen and convince you it doesn’t exist and your walls are to blame for their distress.

We are not truly responsible for the actions, thoughts or feelings of another and our own past emotions have no relevance to the presence. We are not obliged to stop them burning their own bridges or jumping under busses. We do not need to surrender to their needs any more than they are required to meet our expectations.

Back to our WWF friends. They have a need. It is to earn money. They are exploiting an opportunity to connect with potentially vulnerable targets, in an effort to redistribute wealth. The need is real but the ends do not justify the means. In fact, were these Scammy Sammys given the opportunity to put their energy toward a legitimate enterprise, their obvious wits and flexibility would make them incredibly successful. Leaving judgement aside and meeting them with curiosity, you develop compassion for the situation they are in while also recognizing it is not ok to take advantage of people.

And they are aware. They know exactly what they are doing and take pride in a job well done until they feel judged or ashamed. Although we often hide the truth from ourselves, we all know what we are doing. We all make choices. We all have moments of clarity where we sit inside our wise mind and hate what our monsters have made us do. Then we either embrace change…

Or we shift that hate onto the person who made us look in the mirror.

“Look what you made me do.”

Clear Expectations

They bridge the space between.

Being of service requires truly understanding how to be of service. Asking someone directly is an effective and straightforward way of determining if what you have to offer is indeed what is wanted or needed. Clarifying expectations and setting boundaries is a necessary part of being of service yet is often inhibited by our discomfort in asking for expectations and articulation of boundaries. Without these invaluable guidelines one or both parties get disappointed, exploited, or otherwise dissatisfied. The space between gets clouded and murky and connection becomes strained.

On the boundaries side, it starts with the offering. The more information you provide about what you are willing to give, the less chance of misunderstanding. But you must balance this with the fact information gives power and power gives control.

If you are actively offering a good or service then providing extensive details in your description saves you and your prospective customers time and energy. You don’t have to field the same question dozens of times while they don’t waste their time asking. If you really want to sell, you voluntarily share all the details. Doing so generates an intimacy which simulates trust, which is exactly why the WWF Sammy Scammys overshare! In these days of digital fraud surrounding marketplace advertisements you as a seller must be alert to scamsters too and the lack of details provided in their queries will often be the first clue to the insincere purchaser. Of course, reading an invalid URL as in the example below will also reveal a scam attempt.

On the recipient’s side, articulating expectations ensures that you are going to be satisfied with what you obtain from the transaction. Make no mistake, every single interaction with another human being is a transaction in one way or another. Except in the case of acts of true compassion, where nothing is expected in return.

It’s the currency and the outcome which determine if it feels mercenary or rewarding or simply a daily task. Pretending that our interactions are not transactions does not change that reality and in fact creates the phenomenon of generalized dissatisfaction in society. Many people experience a nebulous discomfort as they go about their day, a sense of being unfulfilled and cheated yet they can’t put their finger on it. Because we feel guilty saying no, we feel uncomfortable denying someone when they express a need but also because of the legitimate confusion which exists within the ambiguity of social interactions. Our WWF Scammy Sammys consistently exploit the very name of the program, insisting that since you accepted a game and chat, you are their friend and must meet all the responsibilities and obligations inherent in THEIR definition of friendship even if you did not actively agree to a working definition of friendship.

Intentional business transactions drive global finance. Personal transactions drive global society yet we do not give intentionality to most of our human interactions. Even acts of compassion are only effective if the need is understood. Without intentionality, we don’t get what we really want nor give what we truly meant to.

Sincere and intentional communication can not only be used as protection against exploitation by controlling data mining but also ensures interpersonal transactions remain satisfying while even becoming a delight in and of itself.

Saying what you want is satisfying. Indicating what you are willing to offer is comforting. Avoiding either can be a sign of a power play but assuming the best is what Synergy wants us to do as we seek to meet our needs.

Data Mining

Tell me about yourself…

Curiosity is a natural and wonderful sensation. It drives toddlers to ask why and impels much of our daily lives. Those who aren’t feeling satisfied with their situation often are failing to engage their sense of wonder and intrigue. Discoveries are made and inventions generated by the engine of inquiry.

Even commonplace items and experiences can become delightful explorations if you remove the filter of complacency and look through an intentional lens of curiosity. Asking questions polishes away dusty assumptions and any buildup of judgements. Old becomes new when you are present in the Moment using wise eyes to see.

Data mining is an extension of curiosity. Information is power and fuels the momentum toward satisfaction. Sincere questions and interest open opportunities for service by identifying needs and interests. Every single interaction has a purpose for the participants and to dismiss the gift is to ignore the chance for satisfaction for both parties.

Data mining itself is a natural impulse and when performed with pure intentions leads to fulfillment. Questions coming from innocence and authentic interest leave both parties feeling satisfied. But probing queries driven by ulterior motives, even unconscious ones, feel uncomfortable and distasteful.

People can use data mining in insidious ways and if you have been exploited by those who gain power and control through weilding information against you, you develop an aversion to sharing. If as a child you were compelled to give control to a data mining parent, you may fall on the other end of the spectrum and find yourself oversharing.

Back to the scripts used by Sammy Scammys on WWF, where data mining not only fosters a sense of intimacy but verifies the traits of a vulnerable target. Seemingly benign chitchat has a sinister edge because the ultimate goal is bilking the victim of funds. The fact you play the game implies you may be lonely or bored. Alert predators will watch your play habits since your speedy response to a move implies you have time on your hands. If you claim to have a spouse and family yet are a frequent visitor you may have family conflict you are seeking to escape.

If you respond to flattery you may be vulnerable to exploitation. Using your name also creates intimacy because it feels like they are paying attention to your little details.

Depending on your time zone, if you are mostly active during your evening you may be susceptible and also likely employed. Asking where you live narrows this down. A strange question that often comes up with Sammy Scammys is where are you originally from. This likely arises from the idea that people emigrated to North America, and is a key indicator that it is Sammy on the other end since those born in North America don’t tend to ask where someone is originally from, they ask where you grew up.

A frequent question is about your work, couched in various ways, but the motive is to see if you earn money while again testing your boundaries. If you overshare because they overshared, you are a more likely prospect. The more information you give, the more avenues they can travel down trying to drive you toward emotional entanglement and financial exploitation.

The script of a data miner is similar whether they are benevolent, benign, or malignant. Like passive behaviour, asking questions is not toxic in and of itself and indeed is the hallmark of an open, curious, and enlightened mind. When you live in the Moment everything and everyone around is fascinating and delightful. It is the underlying motives behind the investigation which trigger your sense of discomfort or connection.

Awareness of the scripts and your unconscious vulnerability to probing will allow you to intentionally respond to questions and avoid intrusive data mining both online and in real life. Standing around the water cooler, data can be the currency and your life events the game pieces laid out, so recognizing a harvest for what it is protects you from the imbalance of a violation. If you don’t mind being the one people talk about, you can make the conscious decision to share instead of feeling betrayed by unintentionally feeding a data miner’s curiosity, mistaking it for interest in who you are.

Each of us is interesting and worthy. Data mining is how we build connections and intimacy between each other but opens the doors to misuse if we don’t recognize the patterns.

No Explanation Required

Stop justifying boundaries!

Sorry, I am washing my hair so can’t talk to you.

Our instinct when we say no, when we assert a boundary, is to give our reasons. This drive is so deeply ingrained that we will lie when we say no just to avoid judgement of our real reason for refusing something or someone. We feel the need to provide an excuse, information meant to ease their pain.

Rarely does it do that.

But worse, information is power. Power is control. Control is an opportunity for imbalance through judgement, exploitation and manipulation.

Our healthy boundaries are valid for us. And when we say no, our reasons are our own. To tell them to others is to hand them power over our boundary and invite them to debate our internal limits.

Synergy provides no explanation when she denies us what we think we want. She does not justify, argue or defend. She offers what she can, and it is not our place to question her. Since we know she won’t answer, we may try to fathom her reasons but we don’t attempt to change her mind.

Unlike our fellow humans.

We regularly engage in campaigns to get our way. Overt intimidation, covert manipulation, wheedling, cajoling, and bribing are all efforts to turn a no to a yes. And the more information we are armed with, the more effective our battle strategies. Admittedly it is satisfying to get our way and not taking no for an answer does have its place.

So long as that place does not steamroll the rights of another and violate their fair and reasonable boundaries. A no may feel unfair and unreasonable to us, and at times it is, given that inappropriate and unhealthy boundaries also involve the word no! Someone exploiting you is going to emphatically tell YOU no when you tell them to stop violating you!

If you are moving toward sincere joy and satisfaction, then examining a no with curiosity and openness should reveal Synergy’s reasons for the obstacle. Asking questions is part of the journey, as is accepting the answers.

When you assert a boundary and say no, you do not need to volunteer your rationale. You do not need to give the other person control of your boundary. Your sense of security is not up for debate.

But it is open to investigation, fair game for fair and appropriate action. Respectful curiosity is what Synergy wants from all of us, including pointing it at our own emotional mind. Do YOU know why you are saying no? Do you understand what aspect of the situation makes you uncomfortable thus prompting a rejection? Have you given intentionality to your boundary or is it just a knee jerk response from habit or training?

When someone probes your boundaries with gentle analysis, it can feel frightening and possibly invasive, which triggers a greater sense of discomfort. But if we don’t understand why we say no when we say no we are not only doing a possible disservice to ourselves, but perhaps losing the chance to serve the needs of others, a core imperative in our design.

There are times to explain yourself, when an opportunity for service is present and both you and the other party have sincere needs and authentic reasons for your positions. In those moments, intimacy can grow as you offer the vulnerability of an explanation, giving the power of information to the other party.

Sharing your reasons is an act of intimacy. Of surrender. It generates a Moment of connection. That is why we feel the need to explain ourselves. But to jump the gun and offer unsolicited information is to force intimacy. Allowing a give and take fosters more depth of connection. If you do all the giving and don’t allow reciprocal giving you have missed a moment. And if there are unhealthy motives, allowing give and take to flow naturally will shine the light on them.

Try it on WWF! The Scammy Sammys volunteer their life story – invariably a poor widowed father who doesn’t get on the game often so wants to meet on Google Hangouts. This disclosure of information is intended to generate a sense of reciprocity and intimacy yet comes uninvited! When you do not offer a similar level of disclosure, when you say no and enforce a healthy boundary, you will come under attack!

Some people will simply leave you alone when you say no, blocking you out of their life with no explanation once they realize you have clear boundaries. These are Scammy Sammys who like easy prey.

Others will attempt to shame you and make you question your boundaries. These Scammy Sammys enjoy the negativity where a no triggers contempt.

While yet others will try to find ways to circumnavigate your boundaries, testing your defenses from various angles until they find a weak spot in your armour. To them no means convince you, and they delight in a challenge. They use an arsenal of strategies to reach their goal. Your weak spots will be either insincere or unhealthy defenses. In your analysis of your boundaries you will recognize some areas needing work and reinforcement. Proactive reflection will keep you safer by preventing intrusions.

Fielding the constant attacks of these types gets exhausting and is the most dangerous to you core self. Every hit weakens your walls and if enough volleys hit home you eventually crumble and fall victim to a violation.

Boundaries form the walls protecting our wise mind and helping to keep our monsters subdued. Boundary violations trigger Moodasaurus and Logiticus to patrol our perimeter and unhealthy boundaries confuse those two lovely beasts as well as the targets of their defenses.

We do not need to justify our boundaries to others…so long as we have justified them to ourselves.

Words with Friends as Target Practice

This time of year offers a natural opportunity to change our ways and improve our lives and selves. Physical boundary setting has never been more clearly delineated and accepted as in the current global climate yet social and emotional boundaries remain relatively ambiguous and oftentimes porous.

Understanding boundaries and how to gently enforce them while maintaining vulnerability and sincerity is a distinct challenge. There are few safe places to do so because costs are high when you make a social blunder amongst strangers and even friends. If your walls are too flimsy you’re left feeling violated, betrayed or exploited without necessarily being able to put your finger on what part of the interaction was uncomfortable. If your defenses are too rigid you find yourself alone behind them because no one can make it through unscathed.

The online letter tile game Words With Friends provides a uniquely ironic way to learn how to be vulnerable yet safe, open yet guarded, and sincere yet having walls. The site is populated with lots of legitimate players but is also a favourite for scam artists because it allows chats between users. It is easy to block or ignore the users but why not take advantage of the opportunity to refine your skill at saying no while honing your vocabulary!

There are tells in every interaction, ways of knowing if someone is grooming you, testing your defenses, or sounding out your vulnerability. People who share easily are often easy targets. Sadly, sharing is a core need and our instinct to do so does make us susceptible to predators. In general social settings we don’t know who may look to take our resources against our wishes but the deliberate strategies used on WWF are identical to the recipes used by all who seek to meet their needs through exploitation. Recognizing the patterns allows you to identify prospective toxic situations and navigate them to find satisfaction and safety.

Not all strategies and manipulations are conscious and not all exploitation is intentional. But the patterns and techniques are the same. Where you differentiate is by determining what you stand to gain from engaging in the script verses exiting the game. If someone is going to take advantage of you, but you are comfortable with the transaction because you feel you are getting sufficient needs met, then are they really exploiting you? Exploitation is in the mind of the victim and what a third party perceives as unfair, the parties involved may find a satisfactory exchange.

On WWF, engaging with scammers pays you in coins and experience levels. But you can also learn how to maintain personal boundaries in the chat, while experiencing the strategies used to build artificial intimacy, tests for openness to exploitation, and recipes for future faking. You will learn how to say no to direct violations but can practice doing so without judgement or shaming of the other party.

There are two sides to boundaries and understanding how to maintain them both is a critical skill. On the one side, letting people in is necessary for mental health and social well-being. Most people are good at that. On the other, feeling safe while not causing pain to others is important yet many respond to intrusions with judgement, shaming, and harsh enforcement.

On WWF, it is safe to assume anyone who initiates a chat is a fraud artist. But if you accept them for what they are knowing you are in complete control of the situation and your exposure, you can learn a lot about human nature and how to graciously assert boundaries while not putting any sincere, authentic relationships at risk. If you practice courtesy, compassion and kindness on someone whose objective is to defraud you, you learn to control your revulsion and rein in your judgemental language. Treat the interaction like a game of operation where your objective is to maintain your safety while studying their actions to determine your emotional weaknesses.

It’s like hiring a hacker to hack a computer to test the defenses. And while you are deliberately distracting the fraudster, you are also protecting others by keeping them busy with you!

Consider this a challenge. Try to engage without judgement, enforce boundaries without shaming, and interact with no expectations, only boundaries. Learn about yourself as you carry on a conversation that you know is completely artificial and contrived. Walk into it with your eyes wide open.

And then turn those eyes to your authentic life and recognize where those same patterns exist.

Contempt, Compassion, and Empathy

Empathy really is a buzz word nowadays. It’s held up by many as the standard of excellence in emotional functioning and the antidote to contempt. Empathy is seen as a higher level of awareness and the solution to social ills. But there is a problem with this ideal.

Empathy is feeling someone else’s emotions as if they are your own. Although on the surface this would seem a noble and compassionate thing, especially when held up in contrast of contempt which is judgement of someone else’s emotions, to feel someone’s emotions is…well…immature, selfish and in fact a form of contempt!

This is not to say understanding someone’s feelings is inappropriate, not in the least. That is the root of compassion, which is a healthy respect for and awareness of the emotions of others.

But in its truest form, empathy is an example of someone with poor boundaries who is unable to distinguish between themselves and others thus feels a strong need to fix the problems for others in order to find peace themselves. Many empaths talk of being overwhelmed and taken advantage of, which is a way of blaming others for their failure to protect themselves by establishing healthy boundaries. To act to change someone else’s circumstances can often be a form of contempt because the message is you know better then they, the victims, do.

Contempt and callous disregard for the feelings of others is an easy target to disparage and the narcissist easy to blame for society’s ills. The person exhibiting contempt is demonstrating rigid boundaries with complete distinction between themselves and others, which is viewed as toxic and dysfunctional. True, there is an imbalance present in this way of coping and to reach authenticity and enlightenment a shift needs to happen away from a focus on the judgemental coping mechanisms into wise and compassionate processes. Yet empathy is not the answer either.

The empath is also often toxic and dysfunctional yet in a way deemed acceptable to society because the appearance of helpfulness and caring, yet the drive is just as internally motivated as the actions of the narcissist. There is an imbalance present here, too, and a shift away from the emotional coping mechanisms into wise and compassionate processes needs to happen.

Compassion does not mean your are suffering with the people you feel compassionate towards. They are not you and you are not them, their emotions are not yours to feel. But compassion does elicit discomfort when imbalance, injustice, or negativity is witnessed. Compassion involves the desire to see balance restored, in whatever form the victim might feel it needs to take. As soon as you decide what form restitution or balance must take, you are no longer being compassionate, you are being contemptuous. To demand anything on anyone’s behalf except your very own, is to show contempt of that person’s or groups’ ability to determine their own needs. And unless they asked for your help, you disempower them by taking up their cause unless you yourself are directly affected by the imbalance.

Don’t mistake activism for compassion and empathy for support. Those without voices do need to be heard, but unless you are one of the voiceless, your sounds will drown out the meaning of their silence. Speaking from a place of experience is the only way to drive change, and listening from a place of compassion if you are not the victim, is the only way to support change.

Triggers

Every single one of us plays, and is being played, like the Operation game. And that game board sits on a pivoting table in a boat in the middle of an ocean of emotional turmoil!

We all have our sensitive touch points, our triggers that make us aversive and obnoxious when we’ve been poked with carelessness or imbalance. That’s our feeling mind or judgemental brain having a knee jerk response to a perceived threat and bypassing our wise mind to send out a growling response in hopes the source of discomfort backs off.

Effective, no doubt! But since it also sets off alarms in the other players, such a response heightens everyone’s anxiety and distress. Plus so very often, the source of distress is a memory, an echo of a moment, not the reality of the present.

The tighter those operating spaces, the harder someone is to get along with, the more people avoid trying. Unfortunately that becomes a positive feedback cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy because the more unpleasant a person is, the more people treat them with unpleasantness, the more intense their unpleasant responses become.

To escape the trauma drama of conditioned reflexive patterns requires stepping into the present in an intentional and mindful way. Seeing your own self from a distance and examining your Operation game to determine what spots you can safely widen, which triggers are legitimate boundaries that keep you in balance, and what parts of you can be cracked wide open and offered freely to any and all comers.

No expectations. Only boundaries. Don’t trust anyone but love them anyway.

We have every right to establish our boundaries but no right to growl and flare up and traumatize others without fair warning. In the Operation Game, the raw nerve edges are visible…and so are the contents of the target spaces. That makes it a fair game because the player can see the object actually exists and is available for pursuit, while they know what margins for error they have in the effort.

Life doesn’t come with that fairness so the only way one person learns to recognize the invisible bubble which is personal boundaries is to bounce up against it. To be fair, first offense demands a warning shot not a kill shot. That makes sense.

But that’s a loophole exploited by those whose elementary personality drives them to use others to either raise or lower their own energy level in their search for stability. Warning shots identify a boundary the first time. A second warning shot is no longer a warning, it’s a bluff, and becomes background noise. An expectation, not a boundary. Expectations are demands and demands are a type of resistance to Synergy and our purpose.

Examination of our personal triggers frees us from patterns of resistance, instability, and imbalance. We can set off our own raw edges just as easily as other people can. We must use our wise mind to calmly and serenely look upon our game play and remove our expectations of others while setting our boundaries. And then we need to offer our whole selves to others with open vulnerability, prepared both to gently advise when a boundary gets struck the first time, but firmly remove ourselves the Moment that same person intentionally chooses to touch that same boundary a second time. Boundaries protect our core selves. If we don’t enforce them, we lose who we are, we spurn that precious gift Synergy gave us, of curiosity and hope and joy.

A boundary is a plan of how to remove yourself from an unbalanced situation, not an action plan to stop the other people in the situation. You can’t control others, or situations any more than you can stop the boat rocking on the ocean during a storm. Yes, the patterns we have structured our Operation circuit board around do sometimes work to temporarily stabilize the game board but since those actions and reactions arise from feelings and judgements the balance is temporary. The eye of the storm. Setting the entire board game on the grounded Moment right Now keeps it level and firm for future game play.

Judgement Aside

We are who we are. There is no wrong nor right, good nor evil, bad nor good. There are consequences and fallout from our choices, and those cause balance or imbalance, satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

It is our short circuit which leads us to judge. That is not our role. Our role is to live with curiosity and hope, making choices in the Moment that will bring stability to our elemental personality and joy to our Eternal mind.

If we truly embrace Mindfulness and Enlightenment and follow through to the ultimate understanding of reality, then we have to accept that everything is as it has to be. Which means things we perceive as evil or wrong had to happen…thus they are not wrong, they are an adjustment to compensate for imbalance.

Each person acts to satisfy their needs in each moment. Some people are able to do so without cost to others, while some must do it at the expense of someone else. To shame people for these situations is to work against Synergy, to act in judgement and to take a position of superiority. Hubris.

Humility and acceptance cause no harm if given sincerely. False humility, that which feels hurt when not honoured or respected, is not authentic.

True surrender means being walked upon, being martyred, being vulnerable while still understanding there is purpose to the pain and beauty in the sacrifice.

All who live join Synergy in death, their Eternal consciousness freed from the sensory ties and judgements…and temptations…of reality. No matter what they did on Earth, they will find acceptance and comfort. Every act on Earth is an attempt to refine Datter and balance Matter, not elicit evil or judge worth.

To fight the short circuit, to forsake judgement and condemnation, to be open and vulnerable even to those known to exploit and violate, takes immense courage and faith.

And sometimes merely walking out the door in these uncertain times takes incredible courage and faith.

Courage and faith, and patience, get rewarded with peace and joy, in one lifetime or the next.

Walk with hope and curiosity, faith and courage, joy and happiness, and Synergy walks with you.