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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 All That Is begins, 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 loudly asked myself 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. Why is 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 play 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 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 revelation in the parking lot. 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.”

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-duty eighteen inch wooden ruler she had been hiding inside her habit. Holding my wrist with one hand she beat my knuckles with it as hard as she could. When I couldn’t take the pain any longer and started crying in front of the other students, she stopped hitting me, her mission accomplished.

On the way home from school that day, I told my older brother, Dicky, what happened and said, I was never going to school there again. The next day, I hid behind the church and when we got home, I told my mother what had happened the day before and that I was never going back there again. The following day, Dicky and I both attended the local public school.

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 taught their students and how they treated them. 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 that I couldn’t trust or believe in myself or anyone else? No, it felt terrible! However, if you want to create what you like, how can you do it without knowing what 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 bed to save myself. One day, I decided to stop being afraid. The next time my Frankenstein monster reached up to grab my ankle, I turned around in anger and beat him until he fell off the building to the street below. Then I flew out from the building and saw the priest surrounded by a crowd of people.

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 this 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 or two because of the pain from the intense pressure on my finger. Several minutes at a time, several times a day just wasn’t enough to straighten something out that’s deeply embedded in bone. I don’t know what you think, but in my story having crooked teeth in your preteens was devastating 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 else can we learn about 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 and managed a small grocery store owned by his father and he rarely interacted with my brothers and me. A year after his death, my mother married a plumber who owned a race horse. He made enough money to feed and shelter us, but 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 our 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 didn’t know how. Maybe that’s why so many of us review our lives later in life. We want to learn what we can from past experiences so we can do better in future lives, if there are any.

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.

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 tell my children, which I found 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.

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