Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Some take the road filled with dreams

We're aggressive when dealing with authority figures, seeing them as enemies which threaten us in some way. We're reluctant to listen and respond positively to other people's points of view, believing that we know best and are always right. I would wager that everybody reading this article will have thought or behaved in ways that resemble at least one of the descriptions mentioned. My focus is on those of us who persistently experience many of these symptoms and feel that their lives are being seriously affected as a result. If, like me, you're one of those people, it's time to take action. If you're not, then you may know somebody who is and will want to understand more about what is happening. Comparisons, schemas and mental health The first thing to recognise is that people are not necessarily coming up to us and pointing out our relative inadequacies. She has no tolerance for his childhood neediness. If she has to tend to his needs for any reason, he will somehow be made to suffer for the inconvenience. From very young ages, mothers hold these boys responsible for feeding and dressing themselves. They are forced to grow up far too early. Neglect is the hallmark of the invisible son, but there are extreme cases of total abandonment where these boys are deserted, given to someone else to take care of, or put in foster care. Invisible sons who are lucky will end up in better homes with families who care about them, but there is no guarantee of that. They can just as easily end up in more abusive situations. Whether neglected, rejected or discarded, the invisible son feels abandoned. Logic tells him that he must be an unlovable person or that he must have done some reprehensible, unforgivable act to make his mother despise him. The responsibility and guilt he feels for causing his mother's rejection never goes away. Knowing your purpose and fulfilling it is easier and more fruitful when you use your time and energy wisely every day. In the next article we will talk about how to get the best start to your day and how to follow through from there.

SIX ROUTINE Location Has Energy; Time Has Memory Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. There are twelve of us, maybe more, sleeping on the floor, each on a thin yoga-type pad, covered by a simple sheet. The walls of the room are made of packed cow dung that feels like rough plaster and gives the place a not-unpleasant earthy smell. The unfinished stone floors are worn smooth, but a far cry from memory foam. There are no finished windows in this building--we're in an interior room that keeps us dry in the rainy season and has plenty of doors for ventilation. Did you see that mixed media piece I created to represent my article's message that I posted on Facearticle? That's what our life is like: little bits and broken pieces. Everything we went through and experienced up until that moment when our beloved took their last breath. There are ugly moments we'd rather not remember and beautiful ones. There are precious memories. There is a pattern to our life that has made us who we are. Picture your life as a mixed media collage. Whatever you add to the collage from this point forward is up to you. You can keep moving those broken parts around. You can add similar pieces. Instead, we've become conditioned to think about ourselves in an unhelpful way as a result of previous or ongoing comparisons. Whether we're aware of it or not, we are usually the ones telling ourselves that we're inadequate or incredible.

After all, this is consistent with the picture we have of ourselves and, as everybody knows, pictures never lie! These images, known as schemas in the language of psychology, are usually activated automatically by internal thoughts and/or external prompts. For example, our boss may ask us to deliver a presentation to a large audience, triggering our public speaking schema. We perceive ourselves to have done much worse than colleagues in the past and conclude, `I'm bound to fail again and make a fool of myself in the process. My reputation will be destroyed. With these thoughts occupying our mind, we waste precious time considering how to get out of the talk, rather than what we can do to make it as interesting and informative as possible. If, having given the presentation, we believe that we've performed poorly our public speaking schema will be supplemented by the negative images and thoughts associated with the experience. Our internal beliefs may now be so firmly set that if we're persuaded to present again and receive positive feedback we don't believe it. No form of surrogate nurturing will ever make up for the loss of his mother--the one person in the world who is supposed to love him. The pain of maternal neglect leaves an indelible mark on him. The emotional wounds fester for a lifetime. Many invisible sons self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to block the painful memories that haunt them. Maternal narcissistic abuse is severely damaging no matter which role sons are assigned. The repercussions of it last a lifetime. Narcissistic mothers never allow their sons to earn anything in their own right. They don't like to be shown up by their children. If they can somehow take credit for their sons' achievements, they will. If they cannot, they will devalue or ignore what they do. Although I sleep here every night, there is no particular space that I consider mine. We steer clear of ownership here--no possessions, no material attachments.

Right now the room is dark as a cave, but from the tenor of the birds outside, our bodies know that it's 4 a. We're due at collective prayers in half an hour. Without speaking a word, we move to the locker room, some of us showering, some of us pulling on our robes. We wait in line to brush our teeth at one of the four communal sinks. No one from the outside world is witness to our activity, but if they were, they would see a group of seemingly well-rested men, all of whom appear perfectly content to be getting up at this early hour. It wasn't always that easy. Every morning my brain, desperate to remain shut down just a little bit longer, thought of a different excuse for why I should sleep in. But I pushed myself to adopt this new routine because I was committed to the process. That is your comfort zone, and there is nothing wrong with that. There's a reason it's called the comfort zone; But God might have something more for you, and if you continue saying `I can't' or `I'd never,' you are essentially saying `NO. He can use you in so many ways if you let him. You can grow in him and share in the masterpiece he wants to make of your life's collage. Is God asking you to do something today? Is there something you are feeling led to that sounds too difficult, is uncomfortable, or you don't feel qualified for? What might you be saying NO to? Ordinary women become extraordinary when they find a way to tap into the wellspring of creativity. THE GREAT COLLABORATOR We conclude either that people are `just being nice' or it was a one-off. On another occasion, we're invited to a party.

Based on experience we know that we won't enjoy it or, worse still, it will upset us. I'm so boring in comparison. I haven't done anything exciting and I don't have any funny stories to tell. At this stage, I should note that it's perfectly possible, if not likely, to feel inferior in some circumstances and superior in others. This happens when our comparisons have led us to adopt contrasting schemas for different situations. Having done much better than our classmates in a previous music test, for example, we may approach future such exams with confidence - `I'm good at music and I'm certain I'll do brilliantly again. By continually accessing one negative schema or having many different harmful schemas that are triggered frequently it's not hard to see how our mental health can deteriorate. In some cases, we might as well have somebody shouting hurtful things in our ear for the majority of the day; Should their sons fail at something, they will relish in it. The only efforts narcissistic mothers support are the ones they initiate or those that make them look good. Image is everything to the narcissistic mother. She uses her sons to replicate her perfect image--the self she wants the world to see. Tony's mother, whom he discusses in his letter at the beginning of this article, perfectly exemplifies that: Tony's mother is of Cuban refugee descent. As an adult woman living in the United States with a medical doctor as a husband and two boys of her own, she strived to project an image of wealth. Though middle class and comfortable, she pretended to be an educated woman of culture, affluence and social prominence. She used her two young sons to perpetuate the false family image. Their youth was anything but normal. The fact that it was hard was an important part of the journey. Eventually, I learned the one infallible trick to successfully getting up earlier: I had to go to sleep earlier.

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