self reflection

All posts in the self reflection category

More Thoughts on Shame and Guilt

Published January 14, 2019 by Nan Mykel

(I punched the wrong button somewhere along the line and can’t post images any more. My screen says: (Technological message doesn’t print on blog, just Dashboard). If anyone knows what to do please advise. Back to this post: [Well, there you go. I don’t know what I’m doing in this technological world]. Welcome, image.

I committed the cardinal sin of using words without defining. In my earlier post on Shame and Guilt I referred to “narcissism” without defining it as “healthy narcissism,” or “self esteem.” Obviously (to me) that definition is permissible because if my primitive ancestors hadn’t cared about themselves above all else I won’t exist. We’re all the product of organisms who won over their neighbors. Pledging one’s life to helping others, unfortunately, can also function as a way to improve one’s self esteem or “puffing oneself up,” as I said in my original post.
The closest I’ve come to sniffing out unequivocable altruism (maybe) are the postings showing one kind of animal protecting another kind, or a seeing dog helping a blind one.
Ernest Becker is somewhat extreme in his attempt to tear down defenses which help us avoid seeing life as it really may be, with everything doomed to die.

Man does not seem able to “help” his selfishness; it seems to come from his animal nature…In man a working level of narcissism is inseparable from self-esteem, from a basic sense of self-worth….When you combine natural narcissism with the basic need for self esteem you create a creature who has to feel himself an object of primary value…The basic motivation for human behavior is our biological need to control our basic anxiety…To have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression–and with all this yet to die…We need to assure ourselves that we have achieved something of lasting worth…It doesn’t matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious and primitive or secular, scientific and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning…To become conscious, aware of what he is doing to earn his feelings of heroism is the main self-analytic problem of life.

“A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts, perfecting his discriminations about the world, broadening and sharpening his appetite, learning to bear the disappointments of life, becoming mature, seasoned–finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity and nobility and transcending the animal condition; no longer driven, no longer a complete reflex, not stamped out of any mold. And as Andre Malraux wrote, the real tragedy is that that it takes sixty years of incredible suffering and effort to make such an individual, and then he is only good for dying”…He has to go the way of the grasshopper, even though it takes longer…. Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, Simon and Schuster, Free Press Paperbacks, New York).

Now what does all that have to do with me? Let’s avoid the religious question if we may. I’ve said my head is atheistic and my heart is hopeful.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that my apologies and suffering over transgressions against others is a way to protect my self esteem. I’m working on abandoning that part of me and focussing on my “heroic journey,” of which I am aware. I seek to be a hero by creativity, my blogging, empathizing with others including my children, absorbing beauty and nature, feeding my hungry curiosity and giving free reign to my imagination.

Kinda Preachy?

Published April 3, 2018 by Nan Mykel

While continuing my discard trip through ages of hoarding the written word, I’m about to discard the following, but cheating and saving it here:

The majority of people are born with one head, two arms and two legs. They have two eyes, two ears, one nose and mouth.  But there across-the-board similarities appear to stop. (Of course they stopped with the first sentence in some who have had to struggle from birth with physical differences).

Inside, however, great differences can and do exist. Our nighttime dreams are unique to us, as are our combination of innate temperaments, our perceptions, intellectual potential, educational and family environments, and our genes. (Scientists have even identified a gene for “happiness.”)

It is natural to assume that most of us are as alike inside as outside. We begin to feel different soon after exposure to other children, however.  Temperamental differences are one example. With age, some children learn to hide their unique differences; differences which appear unique to themselves; differences which are viewed negatively by others.

Become aware of your feelings as you read the following: cross-eyed, epileptic, club-footed, hare-lipped, retarded, crippled, senile, pock-marked, abused, victim, bow-legged, leper, old nag, brain-damaged, psychotic, neurotic… I wonder if the feelings differ if you’re inside one of these categories or outside.  Probably not, because we soak up society’s perception of us. You think, therefore I am.

Eric Berne developed the concept of life scripting, in which people assume the scripts and characteristics that others expect from them, early in life. Some people start out physically and mentally healthy, but along the way are shamed into dis-ease.*

When we feel diminished, we are diminished. When we feel shame, we are shamed. The carpet of our life rolls out until the ragged end unless we can somehow intercept its path.

*Of course, our parents play a big role in this

 

 

The Last Quarter Mile

Published February 21, 2017 by Nan Mykel

I’ve sure had my share of experiences in my life, and pets.  No “visions,” or other spiritual dramas. Almost three years ago I began this blog because someone told me that was the way to get folks to know about and buy my books. Far as I know not one has been sold that way.  I’m really not an example of how an incest survivor can morph into a successful, healthy, peppy, loving and undepressed woman, wife and mother.  I’m still afraid of men, at the gut level. Not all my children are satisfied with me. I have been plagued with impulsivity.  I loathe to read posts expressing discontent with oneself and life.  Well, why am I writing this?  I’m bored and a teeny bit depressed, I guess.  I won’t stay away from sweets, and am extremely touchy when discounted.  There are things about me I wouldn’t even tell you, and that’s saying a lot.  A positive item is that years ago I made the decision never to kill myself (and that includes anyone else), but I did euthanize an old cat and dog, to my subsequent regret.  I am excited to read that fish and trees are smarter than we know.  I guess that will make me feel guilty about the few fish I have caught, but I have always loved and cherished trees.  If there’s anything in this post that you feel like laughing at, go ahead. I’m happy for you.

 

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