Tag Archives: Motivation

Denying a Troll His Fix

img_0826One of the hallmarks of a troll is that he (it’s always a he) becomes extremely uncomfortable when the person he intends to annoy does not respond to him. Again, I claim some authority here because I was once a troll. Actually, I was accused of being a troll but at the time I did not consider myself as such. I saw myself as a simple member of a Star Trek message board community who decided to give a certain bully named Admiralbill a taste of his own medicine. But for some reason the other members of the board seemed to side with him. That was how I came to be labeled as a troll and as I came to find out once a person has been labeled a troll it is very difficult for him to shed that label. But I digress.

As I said, trolls do not like to be ignored. I can remember times I issued a zinger against Admiralbill and sat waiting for his response. I remember the rush of adrenaline anticipating him flying off the hammer as he had done so many times before. I lived for that feeling. There were, however, a few times when he did not respond which resulted in the reverse effect. I would compulsively refresh the screen over and over. I became irritable and agitated. Eventually an anger would well inside of me. Obviously, this emotional reaction resulted because Admiralbill’s non response triggered something inside of me. An old, unconscious pattern played itself out in a new form.

Unconsciousness is another hallmark of a troll. That is, the troll is typically unconscious of his own motivations. He wants to describe his actions as a crusade for truth or righteousness or some such. When I fought with Admirallbill I saw myself as standing up for those other members of the message board who could no defend themselves for example. But what any troll is really doing when he attacks his victim is replaying a drama that had once been played upon him. More basically, what he is doing is getting off on and becoming addicted to the endorphins that get release every time he engages in his trolling behavior.

In a sense, when the object of a troll’s desires refuses to respond to him it is like parent stealing the stash of heroine from his or her addicted son. Once that juvenile mind who is anticipating a high discovers that he will not get his fix he becomes angry and lashes out. This is the first phase of the withdrawal process.

It is tough medicine indeed for the object of the troll to deny the troll the fix he needs. On one level this is a satisfying way to fight back against the troll because there is satisfaction in knowing that the troll is justly experiencing pain as punishment for his previous actions. On another level this experience is what the troll needs. He needs to learn that his actions are evil and carry consequences. On the highest level, the troll may gain insight into himself. Through the process of being denied his fix he may come to realize the dynamic at play. He may come to recognize the old pattern that he had been unconsciously playing out over and over again. He just might become aware of his true motivations. It is probably only through this awareness that the troll will ever be able to reform himself.

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Metta

A Facebook friend posted this article entitled 18 Spiritual Teachings That Will Alter Your Mind and Improve Your Life. The seventh item on the list reads:

Metta

Learning the metta meditation technique at a spiritual conference in Palo Alto in 2004 was transformative. Metta is loving kindness. The basic technique is to send good wishes to ourselves, our loved ones, strangers, enemies and ultimately every sentient being without exception. I have introduced it to countless yoga students over the years. Metta is powerful and can be used in formal meditation as well as on-the-spot.

 

At first glance this exercise seems easy and innocuous enough. What could be wrong with extending loving kindness? But then my mind (my ego more specifically) dwells on the following two problems. First, must I really extend loving kindness to the people who have hurt me? Second, what possible benefit would I receive by doing this?

To address the first problem, I must admit that it is really difficult for me to send loving kindness to those kids who bullied me when I was young or to other people I hold resentments towards. I can sort of force myself to do it but then I sense a layer of protective sarcasm develop. This feels inauthentic to me and not what this exercise is about.

To address the second problem, I begin with the proposition that those lingering resentments are an energy drain that would be to my benefit to plug up. This of course is a selfish reason for wanting to perform this exercise. I suspect the real purpose or value of this exercise has nothing to do with selfishness. After all, loving kindness by definition is not selfish I would think. It seems reasonable to say that in order to truly extend loving kindness it must be done selflessly. It must be a gift with no strings attached. Otherwise it is merely an investment. It is akin to lending money at interest. Not that investing or lending money at interest are intrinsically evil activities. They are just not authentic extensions of loving kindness.

But maybe I am getting too caught up in labels and definitions and categories. Perhaps I am looking at this from an egocentric perspective. Maybe it is better not to look at this in terms of who benefits from it or my motivations behind it. Maybe it is good enough just to extend loving kindness and that is it. Let the benefits and motivations be there or not be there, in other words.

The mere experience of extending loving kindness without concern about who benefits or what motivates me is the exercise in and of itself. It is its own reward in other words. I should treat any thoughts about benefits and motivations as any other examples of my mind wandering while meditating. When this happens I merely bring my mind back to center without judgment or recrimination. In this case, bringing my mind back to center would be to return to extending my loving kindness out there. Anything else is a distraction.

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Ash Wednesday – Motivation by Shame or Heart

There are two forms of motivation; shame and heart.  Shame motivates through the fear of humiliation.  Heart motivates through the true love and desire to do something.  It is a Catholic tradition to give up something for Lent.  Giving up something motivated by shame is a burden and difficult because it is not truly what is desired.  When a person is motivated by shame they seek to avoid humiliation.  Their actions are not directed towards their true desires.  On the other hand, giving up something motivated by heart is not the same kind of burden because it is an act of devotion and the act itself is desired.

The readings for Ash Wednesday describe this.  Joel 2:12 reads:

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning; Rend your hearts, not you garments and return to the Lord, your God.

God does not want praise that is motivated by shame.  God wants authentic, whole-hearted praise.  Likewise, the true self is never motivation by shame because the true self can only act authentically.  It is the ego that is motivated by shame and acts inauthentically.  In truth, both God and the true self desire motivation by heart because they are the one and the same and they are the heart.

Matthew 6:6 reads:

When you pray, go into your room and close the door and pray to your father in secret; and your father who sees in secret, will reward you.

Who is this “father who sees in secret”?  I would say, of course, it is God but it is also the true self.  It is the true self that knows truth and knows your true desires and therefore acts authentically.  The true self does not act motivated by shame.

When I was young I felt compelled to give something up because I thought I would be a bad person if I did not.  My motivation was shame.  I did not understand the readings.  I don’t think the people instructing me in my religion understood the readings either because they were all motivated by shame.  People motivated by shame seek to pass their shame on to others.  They believe this is morality.  They believe shame binds and upholds civilization.  But if participation in religion is to have any meaning or saving power it cannot be by shame.  It cannot be done half heartedly and inauthentically.  It has to be whole-hearted and authentically.  Organizations can be held together through shame but shame can never be as powerful a binding agent as heart.  Furthermore, shame takes all the joy out of life.  On the other hand, acting with heart creates joy and is its own reward.

And so I enter Lent whole heartedly.  I give up my vices because I truly want to live free of them.  I want to glorify God, my true self, my father who sees in secret.  It has taken me 43 years to get to this point.  I cannot regret that fact because regret is another form of shame and any form of shame is not aligned with the true self.

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