Tag Archives: Perfection

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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Comment Section Dialog

One of the things I find challenging about exchanges between debating parties on the internet whether it be on message boards or in the comment sections of blogs is that the parties tend to make too many points in one post. When this happens it becomes impossible for an opposing side to argue every point effectively because the chain of ideas becomes too fractured. That is why I tend to respond to only one point in any comment I make. That way the conversation stays clear and coherent (or at least that is the intent).

Over the past year a very judgmental and obsessive person has been commenting in bulk on my blog. This individual named Thordaddy identifies as a white supremacist who is not a Christian but worships Christ as a perfect man nonetheless. There is something about my writing that apparently gets his goat which makes our exchanges entertaining for me. (I am not proud of the fact that I do enjoy getting a rise out of him by the way). The comment section of my last blog post is no exception to this dynamic. In that comment section it would have been too cumbersome and ineffective to respond to every point he attempted to make. As such, I thought it would be interesting to break apart the first section of his comments by individual point and address them individually in this blog post in the form of a dialog.

The passages marked TD are his own words taken directly from the comment section of the previous post. The passages marked WS are my responses that I did not make in that comment section but attempt to address them now. Feel free to refer to that comment section for the original text of the exchange.

DIALOG

TD : Even in your NOW genuine quest for a more perfected self made aware by a desire to resolve all mental conflicts, YOU DELUDE YOURSELF as to the true nature of “thordaddy” FOR THE PURPOSE of a self-sabotaging. There is simply not existing within ANY OF YOUR RETORTS actual evidence of a true belief in the idea that you are “f$&king” with some “poor guy.”

WS : Don’t you think the fact that I need only mention “some poor guy” without referencing “Thordaddy” to get a huge response out of you is evidence of my ability to bait you?

TD : Stripped down to its bare naked letters, your rhetoric is, in reality, incredibly pathetic now GIVEN the size and scope of the dialogue and the informative analytics which measure the impact of my work HERE.

WS : I don’t really understand what you are talking about. However, you do sound kind of angry and full of yourself.

TD : If your take were more in line with reality then “we” would have witnessed some sort of piling-on effect by equal-minded winston Scrooges. “We” have “seen” NOTHING of the sort. And of course, AS YOU HAVE REITERATED time and again, I have no actual side ready to pounce upon you. So what is closer to reality is that your fans are mere spectators in no way prepared to engage in the dialogue as they leave you all alone to do the best you can.

WS : I don’t have an extensive readership or following. You by far constitute the bulk of the comments on my blog over the past year or so. It’s not like I have created a community of my blog readers. As such, I don’t find your argument here particularly persuasive.

TD : Then again, YOUR SIDE does not really BELIEVE in doing the best one can. Your side DOES NOT BELIEVE in the perfecting of the self. Your side only believes in the annihilation of the self AS absolute liberation.

WS : When you say “your side” do you mean the non radical, right-wing, nut job side? Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that I don’t believe in perfecting the self. I strive to improve myself every day in various areas. This blog is an effort to improve my writing skills for example.

TD : And now your continued obliviousness to the above is the very empirical evidence one would look for so as to declare this dialogue to be amongst a radical autonomist and a white Supremacist.

WS : That is a circular argument which relies upon undefined terms. All your rhetoric seems to follow this pattern which I find very interesting. You say you have defined the terms you use but your definitions are usually in the form of other undefined terms that in turn define themselves based on the first undefined terms . I have to wonder why you shun using the ordinary definitions and word usage that everyone else uses. I suspect it has to do with you wanting to “separate” from reality and live in a world of your own construction rather than in the real world that actually exists.

TD : What is clear is that when a radical liberationist meets true belief, he is at a loss, SELF-EVIDENTLY. And when that “true belief” is “Perfection as operating paradigm” then said liberationist INEVITABLY morphs radical AS HIS ONLY MANDATED REACTION. So if YOU REJECT “Perfection as your operating paradigm” THEN you will just self-annihilate. In other words, if your spirit is not put to the idea of Perfection THEN your Ego will be busy devising many ways to annihilate your Self so that its “perfection” IS SIMPLY OUT OF THE QUESTION.

WS : But I don’t reject perfection. I know that does not fit in your circular, “logical” scheme which is probably why you continue to write as if I do reject it.

TD : And this is exactly where the masses “stand.” Perfecting their selves is out of the question… Out of their minds… A real absurdity… And you stir this pot THROUGH your anti-white Supremacy.

WS : I admit that I do not self identify as a white supremacist but that is a good thing. A great deal of evil has been wrought throughout human history under the banner of racial supremacy.

 

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A Conversation with Writer’s Block Part III

I burned Cate's book today in the woods as a symbolic conclusion to this project.

 

WS : Your underlying premise so far has been that writer’s block is caused by a subconscious, psychological process designed to protect me from experiencing uncomfortable feelings.

WB : Yes, that is essentially what I am in a nutshell.

WS : So how do I break through?

WB : The first method is to muster the awareness and courage to break through the writer’s block which means you have to allow yourself to experience that uncomfortable feeling that you are unwilling to experience.

WS : That sounds simple enough to do from a theoretical perspective.

WB : It is simple but unfortunately it is also impossible. At the very least it is extremely difficult to do.

WS : Why is it impossible?

WB : Because you cannot change the fact that you are unwilling to experience something simply by declaring that you are willing to experience it. The truth of the matter remains that you are unwilling to experience it and making a declaration of your willingness to experience what you are unwilling to experience is simply a misstatement of reality.

WS : How does a writer get through you then?

WB : In order to bypass the mechanism that I personify a writer must distract me or sneak by me in some manner.

WS : How does a writer do that?

WB : What I am about to tell you will probably only apply to you on the level of the specific because everyone has different fears. However, it may work to shed light on the process of writer’s block in general and in that regard may help someone other than you who happens to be reading this.

WS : Lay it on me.

WB : A method you are employing right now is to write in dialog. For some reason this allows you the freedom to generate ideas in a way that writing prose does not much of the time.

WS : Why is that?

WB : I think it works because you are in a sense stepping out of your head which is where the fear resides and stepping into the head of another entity that does not have that particular fear.

WS : Yes but the head I am stepping into is created from my head so really I’m not stepping out of my head.

WB : True, but you cannot deny the results. It is a slight of hand, but it works so why question it?

WS : Are there any other methods?

WB : Sure. Recently you have been generating a great deal of material for your blog by debating a certain individual who is let’s say easily antagonized. This seems to be another way in which you can bypass me. Do you know why that is?

WS : Well, by entering into a dialog with him it is in a sense like entering into a dialog with you. We bounce ideas off of each other and together we come up with something that neither one of us would have come up with on our own.

WB : Yes, that’s part of it. The other part of it is that you sort of “get off” on fucking with the poor guy. You get a charge out of it and that charge is perhaps more enticing that the fear is scary. Does that make sense?

WS : It does although I am not proud to admit it.

WB : Part of you is not proud to admit it. Part of you thoroughly enjoys it. We’re entering into territory that you have covered extensively on this blog. It is the addictive nature of trolling that is caused by a personality that was shaped by shame.

WS : Yes. A shame based personality enjoys making other people feel ashamed. This is the primary reason why people pass judgment on others and why they cloak their judgment in morality. They judge other people because they get off on it. It feels good to put other people below them hierarchically. But they cloak this desire for relative supremacy in morality and objectivity in order to mask this true desire.

WB : Right. We don’t need to go too deep into this. It is good to acknowledge that is what is going on here and to recognize what a powerful motivating force this is. It is so powerful, for example, that you can harness it to bypass your fears.

WS : But there is an evil negativity associated with it.

WB : Yes. It is dishonest in that it claims to be doing something good and right when it is actually serving a base desire. It is also evil in the sense that it achieves its goal of benefiting you by hurting someone else.

WS : Yes, and the more I use it the more I feel pulled to the dark side and become dominated by it.

WB : It is an addiction in other words.

WS : Yes, it starts out serving me or perhaps more accurately it starts out with the appearance of serving me but eventually displays it’s true nature and becomes my master.

WB : So although it can be a powerful force it is probably better to leave it alone.

WS : It is difficult to do that. I find that it comes and goes in waves. I will indulge in the behavior. At first it is fun and exhilarating but after a period of time it begins to disgust me. At that point I cut myself off. At first being free of it feels liberating and peaceful but after a period of time it becomes stale and boring. And so I think maybe I can do it just a little bit. And so I do and the cycle repeats itself. I know that if I were to strive for a more perfect me I would divorce myself from this cycle entirely. But again it is difficult.

WB : It is but if perfection were easy we would all be perfect.

WS : Assuming we all want to be perfect…

WB : Good point.

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Monolog of a [W]hite Supremacist Part III

He pontificated poetically on white Supremacy in general:

White Supremacy isn’t precise, but suffice… Isn’t deficient, but efficient.

I wonder if this is an actual slogan of his movement. I wonder if he even has a movement. There are other self proclaimed white supremacists out there but I have never heard one communicate as he does. I have never heard his taBOANke on Christianity from any other mouthpiece. As such, I wonder if his philosophy was taught to him from a group or whether he is a lone wolf who cooked all this up on his own. His language quoted above reminds me of the rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan. The implication is that his ideas carry more legitimacy if the words used to express them rhyme. I have never seen him use this technique before which may suggest he heard it from someone else and is merely parroting it. Then again it may just be an idea that popped in his head that sounded good to him in the moment and so he wrote it.

It casts a wide net so as to catch a very few perfect fish.

I am reasonably certain this statement refers to an idea he has articulated on a number of occasions. This idea is that 99% of the world’s population are degenerate masses who either knowingly or through ignorance pursue a path of “radical autonomy” and ultimate “self-annihilation.” As we have discussed, the self annihilation he speaks of works on two complimentary levels. One level is on the material or racial level. That is, the radical autonomist does not value his unique racial history and practices sexual deviancy (contraception, abortion etc.) and in doing so is undermining his race and ultimately bringing his race to extinction. The second level is spiritual. That is, the radical autonomist seeks autonomy from God and practices sexual deviancy which separates him from God and in doing so brings about his own annihilation.

Opposed to this 99% of the population are the 1% who act in accordance with “God-ordained free will” which protects them from self-annihilation. I am not sure what he means when he says white Supremacy “casts a wide net…” I assume he counts himself to be one of the “perfect fish” but his philosophy is necessarily narrow in the sense that it restricts itself on racial grounds to white people of northern European racial extraction. Perhaps he was again attempting to be poetic but there may be a deeper meaning that I am not catching here.

There are indestructible memes and destructible mindsets [that] manifest those memes in concrete form. There are attempts to create new memes based around understood mindsets and understood mindsets set out to create new memes.

This seems to be a more difficult nut to crack. I am reasonably certain the “indestructible memes” he is referring to are the liberal ideas and philosophies espoused by the degenerate 99%. By indestructible I assume he is suggesting that these ideas will always be around to tempt man into annihilating himself. The “destructible mindsets” are the people who believe these ideas or perhaps he is referring to the beliefs themselves. They are destructible in that they will not always be around because they will annihilate themselves or perhaps can be changed or converted to right belief. These mindset and memes work together as a self reinforcing mechanism.

But there is ALWAYS a greater paradigm enveloping it all. Perfection or Nothing. What YOU choose will have the most profoundly just consequences either way.

According to the white Supremacist, underlying these false ideas and the system that propagates them is the greater paradigm of “Perfection or Nothing.” This makes sense from the standpoint that there are circumstances where there is truth and untruth. Science makes this point clearly. The truth or untruth of any theory is born out through experimentation. Truth is more difficult to prove in spiritual matters because spirit cannot be measured like matter. As such, it is easy enough to say that one can choose between perfection and nothing. But what exactly is “perfect” can be difficult to know. He seems to think his version of perfection should be perfectly obvious to everyone. But most people do not see racism as a “perfect” philosophy. But in his mind if you disagree with racism then not only are you not perfect but you are also part of the degenerate 99% of the population. I wonder if he can see that his memes and mindsets are equally as self-reinforcing as the liberal ones.

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