Category Archives: Psychology

A Change of Heart

I have explored the topic of self love previously. Recently, I came to a deeper understanding of this concept while attending a retreat. It happened while I explored why I feel inhibited at times around other people.

This exploration seemed to be related to my mother who died two years ago. Since then, I puzzled as to why I do not really miss her. I asked God why this was so. The answer came to me very clearly. There was no connection between us. I assumed a connection existed but the more I examined it the more I knew that this assumption was false. Accordingly, when she died there was no connection to miss. In my heart, beneath my denial and “beliefs” I knew this was true.

This insight left me feeling a profound emptiness. I saw how because I had no motherly connection I had never learned to love myself. And so I looked for love from other people. I sought to look good in the eyes of others, to entertain them and be the life of the party. I see now how this was a clinging, covetous, jealous love that generated friends who were not good for me. It made me hurt those people in my life who were good for me. I sought girlfriends I did everything to get and then quickly felt trapped by them. I never knew what I actually wanted in life and made quick decisions that I later came to regret. None of this ever took me to a place I wanted to be. These experiences made me feel good in the short term but never in the long term.

I saw all this and saw how empty I was. So I asked God to fill my emptiness with his love. To my surprise, the very clear answer I received was, “Fill it yourself.” He was right. I had to love myself first before I sought love from an external source. Having never really loved myself in the past I was at a loss as to where to begin. This was a place where God could help me.

It was through intent that God created this universe in which we live in all its mystery and complexity. Intent comes from God. And so I intended to love myself. I made the conscious choice to do so. Then God miraculously transformed me, and my own love for myself welled within me. I felt it. I wore a yellow and black checkerboard cloak. “I love myself,” I said inside with a silly, bemused fascination. I felt love within me in a way I had not felt as far back as I can remember.

Then I felt a profound love and gratitude for God. I felt his presence deeply but I longed for him to reveal himself in some more obvious way. I held my hands in prayer looking at the ceiling. “I love you, I love you, I love you…,” I repeated over and over. “I am so grateful!” And tears of grief for all the hurt that led to this point streamed down my face. All the regret for the emptiness and missed opportunity I held in my life for so long became starkly revealed. But my tears were also tears of joy. I sobbed for what seemed like hours.

I saw how my lack of self love made me incapable of offering authentic love to anyone else because I needed their love to make me whole. It was a transaction. I was a hungry ghost. I saw how my lack of self-love inhibited all my aims because I felt I had no entitlement to achieve them. I saw how my lack of self-love drove me to addictive behavior to fill the emptiness. I saw how if I don’t love myself and need validation from others then I will be inhibited in my actions because I will fear failure and humiliation. For how can I be validated from another person if I am a humiliated failure? And I saw how my mother had no love for herself either and therefore could not give me authentic love. I asked her forgiveness for never having a connection and for my lack of compassion. I forgave her as well.

Over the course of that long night, the tears would leave for a time and then came back again and again. Finally, the tears subsided and I felt peace and the healing process at long last began.

To love authentically I must first love myself. When I love myself I don’t need the love of another to feel whole. When I love myself I am capable of freely giving love to another who can then reciprocate freely and authentically. And of course, that authentic love is what I do need. Loving myself is liberating because I am not reliant on others or external circumstances to feel whole. If I love myself and find joy in myself then I never have to feel like I must engage in addictive or self-destructive behavior to fit in. My  presence (in theory) will be a joy to others. If I love myself then I will not demand of others to be a certain way. I can teach and set an example and they may follow of their own accord. If they do then we will be in a superior harmony than if I compelled them against their will.

I said the healing began, but it is far from complete. I spent a life time not loving myself and it will take a while to build up an internal reservoir of self love to sustain me. It will also take time for me to learn the new patters associated with self love and to discard the old patters associated with its lack. Finally, it will take time for me to trust in the divine plan overseeing this transformation. Whatever it is and whatever it takes and whatever uncomfortable feelings I must endure to get to the other side of this I will do it. There are old internal forces of darkness within me who do not want me to change and will fight this process. But there is also an internal force of light that allowed me to love myself and that seeks my change of heart. That internal force is of course, the hidden one, the one who created the universe with his intent, the one I love and the one to whom I am eternally grateful.

 

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Taking on Responsibility

Jordan Peterson frequently makes the argument that life is made meaningful by taking on as much responsibility as possible. The idea of taking responsibility occurs frequently in “self-help” literature. Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, for example, talks about taking responsibility as opposed to being “entitled” and expecting success to be given without earning it. Jack Canfield and Dave Andrews talk about committing to their program 100% (integral to taking on responsibility as I will explain) as a means of cutting off the internal, mental debate that would ensure if one committed anything less than 100% to the 30 Day Sobriety Solution.

Although the idea of taking responsibility is approached from different perspectives by each author there is a common theme present among them all. That is, the best way to live one’s life is by taking on the responsibility of living it. Put another way, the best way to live one’s life is to embrace the responsibilities that present themselves rather than avoiding them, treating them as a burden or blaming them for your own problems. Whether this means deriving meaning through responsibility, accepting the consequences of one’s actions without excuses, complaint or blame, or simply deciding to leave no wiggle room to escape when one makes a decision, the taking on of responsibility brings forth an authenticity to one’s life that would not otherwise be there. This authenticity, in turn, improves the quality of existence because it is aligned with Truth.

One might reasonably argue that the aforementioned authenticity comes from both taking control of one’s life by actively deciding to take on responsibility as well as from submitting to the higher power that bestowed the responsibility upon the self. In other words, authenticity is found by navigating that middle ground between ego and selflessness. The ego is needed for survival in this world. But selflessness or service to a purpose other than the self is where meaning can be found. Obviously, meaning in this world cannot be found if one is dead, so one must first survive. So in a sense, it is authentic (or real or truthful) to acknowledge both the need for the self to survive and the need to be selfless to provide meaning to the self’s existence at the same time.

Manson talks about the difference between fault and responsibility. He asserts that we are not at fault for the situations in which we find ourselves much of the time. But we are always responsible for how we act in response to those situations. This means that we frequently find ourselves in situations not of our own making that we are, nevertheless, responsible for. In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, he provides the example of someone leaving a baby on another person’s doorstep. In this scenario, the person to whom the doorstep belongs is not at fault for the baby’s predicament, but once he becomes aware of the baby, he becomes responsible for acting to protect the baby or deliver it to someone else who can. In this situation he could theoretically avoid responsibility and pretend he has not seen the baby or in some other way ignore it. But (I assume few people would contest) that the right thing to do would be to take responsibility for the situation.

Notice, that pretending he has not seen the baby or ignoring the baby requires the doorstep owner to act inauthentically. He is pretending he has not seen the baby when he actually has seen it in order to avoid responsibility for it. Of course, one could argue that if the baby is not a member of the doorstep owner’s tribe (however he chooses to define it) he could authentically not take responsibility for the baby out of principle. That is, he is only responsible for those people he defines as inside his tribe. But this, in my eyes, would be denying the innocence and humanity of the baby who is neither at fault nor responsible for its situation and therefore, the doorstep owner’s denial would necessarily be another form of inauthenticity.

Now, it is not immediately obvious that the taking on of responsibility should be a proper aim in life. For example, many people often assume that happiness should be the proper orienting principle. But this would be a mistake from the position of those who hold that responsibility should be the orienting principle. Peterson argues that happiness is nice when it comes around but is not the proper goal because unbridled happiness is antithetical with survival in the material world. Manson argues that happiness is not enough because life is suffering and the only way for a person to grow and learn is by encountering problems and solving them. Happiness comes as a by product of solving problems but the problems, and solving of the problems, are integral parts of the process and should be accepted as such.

In the final analysis, the only way any individual can determine if taking on responsibility should be their proper aim in life and whether pursuing this aim will improve their life is to try it for themselves and to learn from it empirically. In a sense, taking on responsibility requires this empirical investigation because in a sense, taking on responsibility is itself an empirical investigation. That is, one who takes on a responsibility will necessarily learn from the experience. But again, the responsibility should be taken on willingly and not viewed as a burden or imposition. This is the connection with Jack Canfield and Dave Andrew’s concept of committing 100% to a process. Because any commitment that is less than 100% is not taking full responsibility for whatever is being undertaken. If a responsibility is not taken on with 100% commitment then it is not seriously being taken on. This, in turn, will open the door to the internal debate as to whether the responsibility should be taken on it the first place. Whereas, taking on a responsibility with 100% commitment eliminates this internal debate.

 

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Thordaddy’s Claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian Doctrine

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

Thordaddy claims that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist” religion, therefore any white Christian must be a “white (S)upremacist”. There are two problems with this claim. First, (as always) Thordaddy’s unique terminology is vaguely and confusingly defined. Second, there is no scriptural basis for this assertion.

(a) The reoccurring problem with definitions

Thordaddy uses two definitions for white supremacy: (1) the mundane definition, and (2) the absolute definition. The mundane definition of white supremacy is the common definition that most people share. That is, “the belief, theory or doctrine that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and therefore should dominate society.” By contrast, Thordaddy argues that he practices the “absolute” version of “white (S)upremacy” which he defines as a “white man who believes in and therefore strives towards perfection.” Thordaddy admits that these practices are not mutually exclusive. That is, a practitioner of absolute white (S)upremacy will often also be a practitioner of mundane white supremacy.

Now, Thordaddy often argues that the “dull masses” abhor the practice of absolute white (S)upremacy because they cannot see past the mundane version of white supremacy. This, I believe is incorrect. First, I do not think anyone would object to a white person striving for perfection unrelated to the mundane definition. I certainly cannot think of an example of this happening. Second, if the mundane and the absolute practices are often “intertwined” (as Thordaddy has said) then this is very likely the reason why the “dull masses” cannot see past the concept of mundane white supremacy. Moreover, Thordaddy is unwilling or unable to provide a clear definition regarding what he means by “striving towards perfection.” When asked for a definition or example the best he could offer was his “spreading his righteousness” to people he encounters. I assume this means him communicating his racist message in his unique communication style which again seems to only reflect the mundane definition.

In conclusion, if we are defining “supremacy” as trying to be the best you can be and a “white (S)upremacist” as someone trying to be the best they can be who also happens to be white, then I suppose Thordaddy could legitimately make the argument that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist religion”.  However, if the mundane definition is employed, then there can be no doubt that Christianity is not a supremacist religion because there is no scriptural support to support this contention. In fact, quite the opposite, as we will discuss in the next section.

(b) The lack of scriptural foundation

In the past, when confronted with the argument that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian doctrine has no scriptural basis, Thordaddy has never once countered with a scriptural passage supporting his position. This suggests to me that he is not at all familiar with scripture. Further, I suspect his lack of familiarity with scripture is on some level intentional, because if he was familiar with scripture, he would then have to explain the discrepancies between his arguments and the scripture. There are many obvious discrepancies. The following are a few of the most glaring examples.

(i) “Love thy Neighbor as Thyself”

In the past, Thordaddy has taken the novel position that the Second Greatest Commandment does not instruct a Christian to actually love his neighbor as a general proposition. Rather the commandment is to love his neighbor only to the extent that he loves himself. Accordingly, if a person does not love himself he is under no obligation to love his neighbor. He uses this as a license with the blessing of Christian dogma to hate his neighbor if he so chooses. I find this a novel interpretation of the commandment chiefly because, it has been my experience that (with the exception of Thordaddy alone) all Christians seem to agree that there is an underlying assumption embedded within the Second Greatest Commandment that a person would naturally love himself.

Moreover, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is logically inconsistent with his unique interpretation of the second great commandment. His interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is to give all love to God such that there is no love remaining for the self and less still for the neighbor. In other words he sees love as a zero sum game in which there is a finite amount of love to go around and if all of a person’s love goes to God there is none left for anyone else. I would argue that the plain meaning of the Greatest Commandment speaks to the intensity of love and not to the percentage of love available. Furthermore, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment eliminates the need for the Second Greatest Commandment. That is, it would not make sense for Christ to specifically emphasize the Second Greatest Commandment in the gospels if the Greatest Commandment effectively rendered it moot.

His unique interpretation of the Second Greatest Commandment is made more peculiar still by the fact that he is obsessed with the concept of the (presumably sinful) act of self-annihilation which he seems to take delight in accusing other people of committing. I asked him point blank if he loved himself and he repeatedly dodged this question which surprised me. I would think a person who feels so strongly that the act of self annihilation is so morally wrong would naturally love himself. I assume, however, that he does not want to admit to loving himself because by his own logic he would then be compelled by the Second Greatest Commandment to also love his neighbor. In this light, his reluctance to admit to loving himself seems to prove that even he is dubious of his unique interpretation.

(ii)  “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”

From its inception, Christianity has been a racially ecumenical religion. This is expressly stated in the Gospel of Mark:

Afterward [Jesus] appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:14-15)

Here we see Jesus himself commanding his disciples to preach the good news of his resurrection to “every creature” in “all the world.” He, by no means instructed them to limit their teachings to their own kind, let alone exclusively white people,

(iii) “The fruit of the spirit”

Racism is also at odds with St. Paul’s conception of the “Fruit of the Spirit” he writes about in his letter to the Galations:

[T]he desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh…  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, … and things like these. (Gal 5:19-21)

Racism, seems very much in accord with what St. Paul describes as the “desires of the flesh” particularly including “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy”. By contrast, Saint Paul describes the fruit of the spirit:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (Gal 5:22-23)

I must say that I do not see these qualities in any of Thordaddy’s comments. This is one of many reasons (beyond his incoherence and his illogical arguments) I hold his contempt and judgment of his fellow Christians suspect. Accordingly, if he intends to hold himself out as a righteous Christian, perhaps he should reconsider the spirit behind his message. And if the spirit behind his message cannot be reconciled with his message perhaps he should reconsider his message.

 

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Thordaddy’s Concept of White Supremacy

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

(1) The Ambiguous Definition

Thordaddy has defined what he refers to as “white (S)upremacy” in the following manner:

White men who believe in and therefore strive towards objective (S)upremacy are white (S)upremacists. … [T]he definition of objective (S)upremacy is (P)erfection. What is (P)erfection? HE WHO WILLS ALL (R)IGHT.

This definition, however, does little to clarify what Thordaddy has in mind when using these terms. Declaring “objective (S)upremacy” means “(P)erfection” means “HE WHO WILLS ALL RIGHT” does not give me an understanding of what these terms mean or what a person would do to strive towards “objective (P)erfection”. I assume the “HE” Thordaddy refers to is Jesus or perhaps God the father. But if one were to imitate Jesus, it seems very unlikely that they would act as Thordaddy does particularly his hostility towards other races. Ultimately, a person trying to understand what he is attempting to articulate is left confused which he then claims is evidence of “radical autonomy” and “self-annihilation”.

(2) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” is distinct from “white supremacy”

On a general level, it seems to me that the “definition” above is an attempt by Thordaddy to distance his concept of “white (S)upremacy” from the commonly understood concept of white supremacy, which by its plain meaning promotes the idea that white people should be supreme over (and thus hostile to) other “nonwhite” races. Thordaddy, however, denies this by saying:

This is exactly what I AM NOT TRYING TO DO. The “commonly understood concept” of “white (s)upremacy” is the liberated concept whereas my articulation represents the absolute concept. … [T]he liberated concept has perversely illegitimated the absolute concept in the minds of the degenerately dull mass. And those who participate in this deception are almost certainly hell bound without repentance.

As we have established supra, the “absolute concept” of “white (S)upremacy” is white men who strive towards perfection. Although Thordaddy has consistently resisted defining what he means by perfection, or what one would do to achieve perfection, we can assume that he means something along the lines of “white men trying to be the best they can be morally and in other dimensions.”

This begs the question as to how “absolute white (S)upremacy” has been “perversely illegitimated” by the commonly understood form of white supremacy? For example, I don’t think anyone equates the 2019 white supremacist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand with other white men trying to act morally in other contexts. The two have nothing to do with each other as far as I can tell. But Thordaddy seems to believe the two are connected and that liberals have somehow conspired to make them connected.

(3) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races.

Thordaddy has at times argued that “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races and that “striving towards objective (P)erfection” is something akin to white people trying to be the best they can be on their own, and not related or in comparison to other races. He becomes very dodgy when asked what “perfection” means in this context nor does he seem to be able to provide concrete examples of what a white man would do whilst in the act of striving towards perfection. For example, he stated the following in the comment section to this blog post:

If I offer every individual who crosses my path my righteousness then I have expressed a desire for (P)erfection. It need not be anymore complicated than this.

If a group of white men share this desire, the horde of orcs call it “white (s)upremacy” (or racist a [sic] Christianity).

In the quoted passage above we see Thordaddy give an example of his “striving towards perfection” as him “offer[ing his] righteousness”. I assume the literally hundreds of comments he has posted on my blog is an example of him “offering” me “his righteousness”. If that is the case, then I am unclear as to what is “perfect” about this. On the contrary, it seems obsessive and maladapted. Moreover, if he really wanted to offer his “righteousness” perfectly, I would think he would be able to communicate it in a manner that could be understood.

Further, I am unsure why he believes his acts of “offering his righteousness” to be unrelated to other races when his “righteousness” is replete with racial epitaphs. His own logic seems to betray him on this point as well as is evidenced in the following quote:

So when I say that my offering of righteousness to whomever crosses my path has nothing to do with other races, this is no different than saying that my offering of righteousness is not contingent upon the existence of other races.

I think what he is saying here is that when he offers his righteousness (i.e., insults other races, or labels those who question this behavior “radically autonomous” or a “self-annihilator”) it has nothing to do with other races because he, himself is white. He seems to believe his “white (S)upremacy” and his hostility to other races are unrelated and coincidental. But I think any reasonable person would find this argument dubious at best. The dubiousness of this argument is further reinforced by the following comment he posted:

I need only point to the single instance of the entire socio-political “spectrum” being against [a] white man desiring “supremacy.” IOW, the dulled, mass desire for “equality” JUST IS animus for white men desiring (P)erfection. [The] “Equality” dogma JUST IS the reaction to white man’s desire for objective (S)upremacy.

Why is desire for (P)erfection racial?

Because desire for “equality” is anti-racial.

Here we see Thordaddy explicitly contradict his own claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” is unrelated to other races. He says quite clearly that the “desire for (P)erfection” (i.e., his concept of “white (S)upremacy”) is racial. And that “equality” (i.e., the opposite of a “desire for (P)erfection”) is “anti-racial”. One marvels at the mental gymnastics he must put himself through to make sense of all this.

Ultimately, it is obvious that Thordaddy is racist according to the common understanding of this term but is unwilling to fully own his racism as is evidenced by his attempts to philosophically or “intellectually” justify it. Moreover, the fact that he is incapable of clearly defining what he means by “striving towards (P)erfection” or what one can do to accomplish this state (besides trolling my blog with hundreds of comments) is also telling.

(4) Thordaddy’s Queer Assertion – “Your Race is Your Father”

Thordaddy often makes the claim that a person’s race is his father and that a line of fathers extends back to God the Father. The implication to this assertion is that a white person’s line of fathers is different from a non-white person’s line of fathers. Therefore, because the lines of fathers are different between races, there is no requirement to love a person of a different race. In fact, to love a person of another race is an act of self-annihilation according to Thordaddy. Of course one glaring problem with this theory is that “race” is not so easily defined and certainly blurs around the edges when examined closely. Moreover, a recent study has shown that every living person on Earth today shares a common male ancestor. Accordingly, every living person shares the same, ultimate line of fathers.

What also makes this claim strange is that Thordaddy apparently does not believe women to be a part of a person’s race. He asserts this even though women are required to procreate just as much as men are. This is yet another example of Thordaddy taking an obvious concept, claiming the opposite is true and then justifying it with a line of complicated mumbo jumbo.

 

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Thordaddian Stock Response Repository

This series of post can probably be ignored by most of my readers unless they are Thordaddy or have been following his voluminous comments and my responses thereto in the comment sections to other blog posts. For just one example of his obsessive comments, please see the comment section of my previous post. You can also review the comments to this blog post as well. You will notice that all his comments revolve around his personal philosophy of white supremacy. In fact, he has a history of transforming the comment section for any blog post I make into a conversation on white supremacy regardless of the original topic.

For a long time, I indulged him primarily because his voluminous comments tended to increase the overall traffic to my blog. I indulged him secondarily because trying to understand and then countering his theories and arguments presented an intellectual challenge. However, this interaction has gone on too long and has become tiresome. The same subjects, arguments and counter arguments have been made ad nauseam (to the fullest extent of that term).

Therefore, I have created this series of posts for two main reasons. First, I want to save some time and effort by putting all of my stock answers to his arguments and accusations in one area which can then be referred to when the subject arises again without having to redundantly re-argue the same topic over and over. Second, because his obsessive commenting tends to turn every comment section of every post on my blog into a “debate” on the subject of white supremacy, I want to confine this business to one area of my blog. This will allow future posts unrelated to white supremacy to remain unpolluted by this dialog. I suspect some training will be required in that I will have to delete his comments to future posts and direct him back to this series. So be it.

Here are the subjects addressed thus far:

Thordaddy’s Use of Private Jargon / Secret Language

Thordaddy’s Twin Concepts of “Radical Autonomy” and “Self-Annihilation”

Thordaddy’s Concept of White Supremacy

Thordaddy’s Claim that White Supremacy Accords With Christian Doctrine

Note: I reserve the right to edit any post in this series to address any new arguments that happen to arise.

 

 

 

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Blue Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

bwThere is a pattern of behavior common to some of the people I have encountered on the internet who identify with the Spiral Dynamics Stage Blue mentality. I will refer to the people who exhibit this behavior a Blue Wolf. This pattern of behavior is as follows. When a Blue Wolf encounters a non-Blue (say an Orange or Green), the Blue Wolf will feel this person out. If this person is not immediately hostile and willing to hear the Blue position in a respectful manner, the Blue Wolf will at first appear to be very charitable and hospitable to the non-Blue. But, if after a brief period of time the non-Blue continues to disagree with or questions too much the Blue world view, the Blue Wolf becomes angry and aggressive. This switch happens suddenly and the suddenness of this switch suggests the anger and aggression existed from the start but was merely masked by the initial show of friendliness. Perhaps the Blue Wolf thinks he can persuade the non-Blue to his philosophy through friendliness. Perhaps the Blue Wolf legitimately believes himself to be a good, moral person but is easily triggered by the “enemies” who do not share his beliefs.

The Blue Wolf’s Ego Identifies With Being Blue

It is important to note that the Blue Wolf behavior is not displayed by all of those who identify with Stage Blue. Many Blues will simply cease to engage with the non-Blue once it is clear they cannot see eye to eye. A few Blues will patiently continue to explain their beliefs kindly and politely. It seems that these Blue Wolves are perhaps less self-aware or have their egos so identified with their Blueness that any challenge to it is experienced as a mortal threat. Blue Wolves tend not to want their motivations or psychology examined. One Blue Wolf told me he rejected the entire science of psychology as a liberal invention (which is a good way to never become self-aware in my estimation). But of course, being self-aware is not a Blue priority.

To a Blue, the priority is dedication to a higher power and not to self-actualization. To a Blue there is…

[a] single guiding force [that] controls the world and determine[s] our destiny… Abiding Truth provides structure and order for all aspects of living here on Earth and rules the heavens as, well… [A Blue will] willingly sacrifice [his] desires in the present in the sure knowledge that [he] look[s] forward to something wonderful in the future. (1)

This makes the hostile stance of the Blue Wolf understandable. For anything that conflicts with their believed Truth is per se un-Truth.  With that in mind, however, it is interesting to note that some Blues will react to challenges to their Truth in less threatened manners than others. Again, I attribute this different reaction to the degree of ego identification a particular Blue has with his Blue world view.

The Blue Wolf ‘s True Motive is to Argue With and Shame His Enemies

I encountered another Blue Wolf in the comment section of my last post “The Spiral Dynamics of a Christmas Carol“. I recognized this commentor as a reader of the Blue blog, the Orthospehere. True to the Blue Wolf form, this commentor adopted the persona of one who did not know anything about Spiral Dynamics and honestly wanted to understand it. His questions, which began as friendly, quickly turned adversarial when I did not accept his counter arguments to the answers I gave him. He then accused me of not following the proper rules of logic and debate. This is a typical Blue Wolf tactic I have observed. That is, a Blue Wolf will dismiss a non-Blue person and his point of view if the non-Blue violates a rule of logical debate even if the exchange is a casual one in a comment section and not entered into as a formal debate. This has the dual intended effect of allowing the Blue Wolf to exit the exchange seemingly in possession of the moral high ground while at the same time humiliating his interlocutor. Guilt and shame are the primary means by which a Blue enforces his social order. (2).

The Blue Wolf Cloaks His Motives in Logic and Objective Truth

I have observed Blue Wolves will often try to humiliate their non-Blue interlocutors while masking this intention in morality and truth. One Blue Wolf who is (I have heard) now deceased, took the position that the non-Blues who disagreed with him “lacked the capacity” to understand his arguments. This same person and his ilk would cry ad-hominem if a similar claim were made of them. However, when he questioned a person’s intelligence he claimed to be not doing so in order to undermine his interlocutor’s position but rather to describe the truth of the situation. In this way he could (hypocritically) avoid the appearance of committing the ad-hominem fallacy to the like-minded readers of his blog who would readily agree with his position.

Conclusion

I ended up deleting most of the argument from the thread in my previous blog post. I know this is considered to be bad form for the moderator of a comment section. People (Blue Wolves especially I suspect) like to see the documentation of their comment section arguments. Perhaps they feel that a piece of them has been removed when their arguments are edited. In my defense, I did not feel like we were debating. It seemed as if he was asking questions about Spiral Dynamics and I was answering them to the best of my ability. I certainly do not claim to be an expert on the subject. I only claim to have an interest and am blogging about it as I learn more about it. For this reason, I am not interested in documenting any supposed debate a particular Blue Wolf believes we are having.

Post Script: There is a great example of a Blue Wolf interaction in the comment section to this blog post. It is interesting how this Blue Wolf accuses me of being intellectually dishonest for deleting his argumentative comments in the previous blog post when he was (in my estimation) being intellectually dishonest by pretending to want to know more about the Spiral Dynamics model when in fact he only wanted to debunk it. Of course he only bases his debunking attempt on reading my blog posts and I never claimed to be an expert on the subject.  Nor did I claim to want to debate it even though he chooses to frame the interaction in that manner. I could not have scripted the interaction better if I tried. I un-deleted his comments in the previous post in order to document the nature of his comments because it is relevant to this post.


(1) Beck, Edward and Cowan, Christopher, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change,  Blackwell Publishing, 1996, pg 229.

(2) Ibid, pg 232.

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Filed under Political Philosophy, Psychology

Striving for Perfection Based in Shame

In John Bradshaw’s powerful book “Healing the Shame that Binds You” he talks about the many manifestations of “toxic shame” (as opposed to healthy shame), how they are generated and how to heal them. One important way in which toxic shame is generated is through cultural systems that require or encourage a striving towards perfection in thoughts, emotions and actions.

Perfectionism denies healthy shame. It does so by assuming we can be perfect. Such an assumption denies our human finitude because it denies the fact that we are essentially limited. (1)

Healthy shame, according to Bradshaw, is a feeling that informs a person of his limits. For example, when a person makes a mistake or engages in a shameful behavior the feeling of shame kicks in and informs the person to go no further. By contrast, toxic shame becomes internalized. Instead of a person being made aware that he has made a mistake and perhaps vowing to to better next time, the toxically-shamed person will feel that he, himself is a mistake and intrinsically flawed. This is an excruciating feeling to experience and one that cannot be easily remedied.

Unfortunately, according to Bradshaw, the modern incarnations of religion have played a role in this dynamic.

Religion has been a major source of shaming through perfectionism. Moral shoulds, outghts and musts have been sanctioned by subjective interpretation of religious revelation. The Bible has been used to justify all sorts of blaming judgment. Religious perfectionism teaches a kind of behavioral righteousness. There is a religious script that contains the standards of holiness and righteous behavior. These standards dictate how to talk (there is a proper God voice), how to dress, walk and behave in almost every situation. Departure from this standard is deemed sinful.

[Moreover, what] a perfectionistic system creates is a “how to get it right” behavioral script. In such a script one is taught how to act loving and righteous. [According to this system it is] actually more important to act loving and righteous than to be loving and righteous. The feeling of righteousness and acting sanctimoniously are wonderful ways to mood-alter toxic shame. They are often ways to … transfer one’s shame to others. (2)

Shame begets more shame because it is an uncomfortable feeling. This often inspires the person feeling the shame to engage in a mood-altering behavior. Consuming alcohol is a prime example of mood-altering behavior but it is not the only one. Interestingly, shaming another person (i.e., causing them to feel shame) has mood altering effects as well.  For this reason, many toxically shamed people will feel compelled to shame other people in order to temporarily relieve their own feelings of shame. This has the effect, however, of begetting more shame in both parties.

In this way, when a person claims to “strive for perfection” ostensibly based on religious grounds he is very likely motivated by shame. When this claim is also associated with behavior or rhetoric designed to shame others, this motivation is only confirmed. This is not to say that people should not strive to be the best people they can be, however, this striving is called into question when it involves internalized shame and the shaming of others for mood-altering purposes. It is called into question because at its heart it is really an attempt to obscure the truth disguised as an attempt to improve the self morally or in some other positive way.


(1) Bradshaw, Michael. Healing the Shame that Binds You. Health Communications, Inc. 2005. p. 88.

(2) Ibid. p. 94.

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Filed under Psychology