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Exploring Thoughts, Feelings, Actions and Reactions in Life

(Part 1. The questions below appear in My Story {bed} Room, under the heading: What do You do when Life as a Human Being is More Painful than Pleasant? Remember, thoughts are “things” with a reality of their own and each of us, an artist. With thoughts in the form of beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations, we paint the landscape of our lives. In other words, thinking, feeling, acting and reacting is where it all begins, from nothing to something, from dreams to reality. – Pete)

How come I never think about how good I am, how much I do, and how well I do it?

As I turned the empty bus into the dark parking lot at the end of my northbound run, out of the blue I shouted in great exasperation, how come I never think about how good I am, how much I do, and how well I do it? Yeah, I thought, I only react to my shortcomings and mistakes. What’s up with that? Why have I always been more concerned about how bad I am than how good I am, how bad others are instead of how good they are? Cultural conditioning?

Even my dreams played into this negative belief structure. I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve had about building bridges across deep chasms or waterways that were so flawed I couldn’t cross them without falling into one of the many holes I had left unfinished! My holey bridge episodes were extremely exasperating, to say nothing about trying to climb up to roadways whose soft shoulders kept turning into increasingly steep drop-offs while the sand kept becoming softer and softer, making it impossible to make any forward progress.

Even rooftops played a role in reminding me of how inadequate and unworthy I felt about myself at times. Whether I was sitting or standing on the roof didn’t matter. On these frightening occasions, it seemed the roof came to life with the intent to kill or injure me. I figure it was either that or my Greater Consciousness was telling me to wake up, wise up, and rise up to greater awareness and understanding. What do you think? You know what, I haven’t had a dream like this for a long time. Maybe I’ve moved past the need for them. If so, hallelujah!

When I first said, I love myself, why didn’t I feel anything?

I began saying I love myself on a regular basis after my parking lot revelation. It took time but before long, my mind began to show me things about myself that I could love. Thinking I couldn’t or shouldn’t love myself was an idea that had been rattling around in my subconscious since early childhood. My mother used to say, “Anyone who loves themselves gets stuck on themselves.” Roadblock!

I assumed she was implying that once you decide to love yourself, no one else matters. At the time, I didn’t question her assumption outright but I do remember feeling a twinge of doubt about her take on this subject. And of course, there was always someone around to make this belief real, or at least, it seemed that way.

Why was I so shy and defensive around other people?

Maybe it had something to do with being told at the age of five that everyone was “born in sin” because Adam and Eve, of whom “we are all descendants, ate fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil against God’s Command.” The nun teaching the class in catechism immediately followed this bombshell up with another one, “…and you can’t trust the flesh because it will always betray you.” Totally dumbfounded, I protested these claims and when she told me to shut up and pay attention, I turned my back on her for the rest of the class.

The next morning as we lined up outside her classroom, she asked me if I was ready to accept the teachings of the church. Looking her straight in the eye, I said no! In response, she pulled out a heavy eighteen inch wooden ruler she had been hiding inside her habit. Holding my wrist with one hand she beat my knuckles as hard as she could until the pain made me start crying in front of the other students. At that point her mission was accomplished and she stopped hitting me. Little did she realize that the next day I would skip school and the day after that, I would be attending the local public school, which didn’t seem to be much better.

In public school, when my new teacher asked me to stand up and introduce myself to the class, I did, and then I told him what the Catholic school was teaching their students and how they treated them if they didn’t agree. When I asked him how public schools treat their students his face turned red with rage. Pointing his finger at me, he yelled, “Sit down, shut up and do as I tell you! I’m the teacher and I know what’s best for you.” OMG, that went well!

For more on What I Learned in Catholic School, click the link or visit https://realtalkworld.com and enter the title in the search window.

Are there reasons for what we experience?

Is there another way to look at the experiences we have in life? I think so. For example, many of my experiences during childhood reinforced the idea that I couldn’t trust or believe in myself, or others. Did it feel unpleasant to be told you can’t trust or believe in yourself or anyone else? No, it felt awful! Besides, it just didn’t feel right. On the other hand, if you want to create what you like, how can you do that without knowing what it is you don’t like?

Take My Recurring Superman Nightmare. I relived it about once a year every year for more than four decades. It was a story about oppression and authoritarianism in the form of a priest and a large and powerful Frankenstein monster that kept chasing me through a park and up the side of an office building, nightmare after nightmare. Out of panic, every time he reached up to grab my ankle, I woke up in my bed to save myself. One day, I decided to stop being afraid. The next time the Frankenstein monster reached up to grab my ankle, I turned around in rage and beat him until he fell off the building to the street below. Then I flew out from the building and saw a priest surrounded by a crowd of followers.

That was the last time I had that dream. Making people feel weak and dependent on authority is not only one stage of development, it may be essential to the greater development of All That Is. Experiences like these may not be fun but without something to annoy or challenge us, why would we bother to change? Why would we bother to evolve?

Why did I hate my crooked front teeth so much I wanted to destroy them?

I don’t know why I felt so angry but, at some level of consciousness I thought my teeth had the power to choose to grow in straight. I certainly treated them as if they did. Maybe I was using this one obvious flaw as a catchall for all the flaws I believed to be a part of who I was.

It didn’t help matters any that not only did my stepdad refuse to spend money on braces, my mother suggested I use a finger to push on the sharp point of my most crooked front tooth. I tried her remedy a few times and found that it was impossible to push on the sharp point of my tooth for more than a minute because of the intense pain from pressing on one tiny spot of my finger. A minute at a time, several times a day just wasn’t enough to straighten out a  tooth that is deeply embedded in gum tissue and bone. I don’t know what you think, but in my life story having crooked teeth in your preteens was damning in a culture that values beauty and perfection as highly as ours. It certainly felt devastating to me!

Based on my experiences in life, I have come to believe that there are no accidents and that there are reasons for everything. If this is so, does it mean that my teeth grew in crooked for a reason? Perhaps. What about the nun beating my knuckles and the teacher yelling at me in public school? Were these experiences initiated and controlled by unseen forces to steer me in a particular direction? Who knows? Without experiences like these, how can we learn the difference between inner strength and self-pity?

Instead of drawing this discussion out further, let me highlight some of the major areas of thought and feeling (challenges) I faced growing up. You may be able to identify with some of them.

Why was I so confused and fearful about how to be with other people?

Can it be the result of an authoritarian culture based on judgments of right and wrong, good and bad, reinforced by the shame of guilt and the fear of punishment? How else can you exercise control over others and protect yourself? Oh boy, there is so much I want to say about why it’s time to outgrow this strategy!

Why did I feel unworthy and insignificant so much of the time?

My biological father died when I was four years old. He was forty nine at the time, sixteen years older than my mother. He managed a small grocery store owned by his father and he rarely interacted with me or my brothers. A year after his death, my mother married a plumber who owned a race horse. He made enough money to feed and shelter all of us, which was great. However, even as a young boy I knew about class status and both my dad and stepdad were near the bottom rung as blue collar workers. To me that meant my brothers and I, and my mother, were all on the bottom rung of society. I don’t know about them but this discriminatory, class-conscious system made me feel unworthy and unwanted.

Here are several messages many of us receive during childhood. “Sit down, shut up and do as I tell you. I’m the teacher and I know what’s best for you!” – Excerpt from my school experience. “Children should be seen and not heard. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. What’s wrong with you?”

Whether these messages are conveyed through words, behavior, or organizational structure doesn’t matter. They exist and affect our behavior.

Why did I feel like I wasn’t good enough?

When I asked my mother why she never complimented us (her children), she replied, “I don’t want you to get a fat head.” How many of us as adults feel the same way as my mother? As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know how to support my own children other than provide them with food and shelter, hug them, and go on walks with them. There was so much more I wanted to accomplish as their father but I just didn’t know how. Maybe that’s why so many of us spend time reviewing our experiences in life. We want to learn more so we can do better.

Why did I think there was something wrong with me?

When you hear the question, “What’s wrong with you?” or you say, what’s wrong with me to yourself often enough, you begin to believe it.

Why did I hate myself and others sometimes?

Unless it is replaced with love and understanding, hate begets hate.

As a young man, why was I angry with so many people in positions of authority?

Abuse of power. Not everyone seeks a position of authority because they want to serve others. Some do it to serve themselves and feel like they’re “somebody.”

Why did I love animals more than people?

People judge you and animals don’t. Animals may not like who you are or what you do in the moment but they do love you and want to be loved in return.

Why didn’t I know what to tell my children when they were growing up and needed help?

I didn’t agree with much of what I was taught growing up and had too little time and too little experience to figure it out on my own. As a result, I had no clue about what to say to my children, something I found to be very disturbing. Again, how can you create what you like unless you know what you don’t like?

All the while, I believed in a different story than the ones we currently tell ourselves. Until now, I didn’t know what that story was.

By Roger Peterson (Pete) https://realtalkworld.com

Part 2: What do You do when Life as a Human Being is More Painful than Pleasant? Religion’s Role in Shaping Human Behavior.

Part 3: What do You do when Life as a Human Being is More Painful than Pleasant? Moving Beyond Fear, Anger, and Depression

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller

What others will not or cannot do for us, we must do for ourselves.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Tania July 30, 2020, 5:09 AM

    You were such a brave little boy! I want to just send that earlier self of yours lots of love and support. His resistance and powerful refusal to be brainwashed by society and religious dogma has made him such a powerful teacher today.

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