I was sat on the train – a train I take regularly – and paused the music streaming through my headphones to notice the train attendant fighting with a passenger for the 75p he owed for his travels. His excuse was that he had no money on him and so couldn’t pay the fare. He was kicked off at the next stop.

She walked my way, looking worn down and saw that I had been watching the exchange. I turned up the corner of my mouth in sympathy and she went on to tell me her struggle with having to constantly battle with passengers who refused to pay for their journeys. Journeys costing less than £1. She said that train might be cancelled soon due to so many people trying to pull  a fast one and get away with travelling for free. The tragedy that would be!

This whole encounter got me thinking about responsibility and how so many of us refuse to take it. Some of us more often than others. I won’t lie – there are times I hope I’ll be able to commute for free. There’s the hope I’ll get lucky and be able to travel the one stop without paying. Because I could always use the extra cash, right? Couldn’t we all? But if an attendant appears, I buy a ticket. Why? Because I am choosing to use service they are providing. It’s helpful in getting me from A to B. I can’t expect to use it for free.

Trying to get something for free indicates a feeling of entitlment. A person feels they are able to have what they want at any expense. This is a selfish approach. And this is very different to a person who believes in abundance.

Let’s look at these two concepts. If you believe in abundance, you believe that there is enough to go around. You believe that there is enough for everyone to live a rich life and therefore you freely give because you know you have nothing to worry about. This automatically leads to kindness because there is no need to look out for yourself and get yourself ahead at the expense of another.

If you believe you are entitled, this means that you put ‘getting yourself ahead’ above all else. You believe that you should be able to get special privileges that others do not. You cannot believe this and believe in abundance. If you believed in abundance, you wouldn’t need to keep trying to get away with special treatment. This stems from feelings of scarcity. This stems from a person not getting what they needed early on in life.

Ironic, or not really at all? A person who grows up feeling deprived of basic needs as a child enters adolescence and adulthood having to look out for number one. If they don’t look out for themselves, no one else will, right? That’s the sad ‘truth’ they’ve been taught.

If a child has his or her needs met, he or she grows up believing the ‘truth’ that whatever they want or need will naturally come to them. He or she doesn’t need to go on the hunt for loopholes and special privileges to get those things.

So parenting is everything, as we know. It’s so much easier to learn the correct behaviour the first time round. But what about for so many of us that struggle with entitlement? What can we do to transform this negative behaviour into something more positive?

The first step is realising that your approach to life will always be reflected back at you. It’s called the law of attraction (though I know, I know, that phrase is so overused and vomit-inducing that you might struggle to read past it.)

Everything in this universe is made of energy. This energy is expressed in different forms and it just shifts between them . Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed in one way or another. Thanks Einstein.

An entitled approach instills negativity in those who suffer at your expense. An entitled approach emits vibrations of scarcity. And these resonate further than you might imagine. But just as you can create this negativity, you can also create positivity. That positivity can spread and transform into higher vibrations.

Give, and you’ll be amazed what you get back in return.

 

Photo via Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.conditioning_Pavlovs_Dog

Conditioning is the process of developing a learned behaviour associated with a stimulus. Take the most famous example of Pavlov’s Dog. Nineteenth century psychologist Ivan Pavlov discovered that any association that a dog made with food would elicit the same response as the food itself: salivation from said canine. He learned that repeating a particular action or stimulus when feeding the dog (such as ringing a bell) would teach the dog that bell ringing = food. Food causes salivation, but eventually the dog wouldn’t even need the food to perform this response. It would simply hear the bell ringing and start salivating knowing the connection it has made in its brain.

We’ve seen conditioning across the animal kingdom in a variety of experiments that have been conducted since. Trainers utilise it in the form of ‘positive reinforcement’ in performing or captive animals. And it’s seen in parenting techniques in our own species. But does it really offer anything positive in humans?

Parenting & Conditioning

Positive reinforcement is used by parents wanting to get more good behaviour out of their children and less bad. But take the example in Grolnick’s The Psychology of Parental Control: How Well-Meant Parenting Backfires where a young girl brings home a report card displaying ‘C’ grades. Her parents are disappointed, no doubt by projecting their own internal fears of not doing well enough in their own lives. But instead of looking at the cause of why she might be getting C’s, they evoke guilt as they offer monetary rewards for A’s and B’s. If the girl isn’t performing well, there’s an issue at hand. She might be experiencing bullying. She might have an unaddressed learning difficulty.

Humans are such immensely complex creatures. Trying to simplify the situations in our lives serves no benefit. All actions and events in our lives are interconnected. It’s only when we realise that that we can then begin to parent with love. We can then and place priority on understanding. In the above example, the parents place increased stress on the child. This forces her performance to decrease. They will continue scorning the grades she brings home. They  withhold love from her until the relationship or any hope of salvaging it disintegrates.

I see this time and time again. I saw it growing up from a child’s perspective and I see it now in adulthood. We’ve got all these people having babies, but so many haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. It’s brash, but true. I guess we argue that it’s a person’s right to produce offspring, but it’s the greatest responsibility you can have to raise a member of a future generation. Why aren’t we placing more emphasis on parenting techniques? It’s the same way that there’s no license needed to adopt a pet. We want something cute and fluffy, without realising that the animal is complex. It will do it’s own thing unless you develop a reliable, loving relationship with it.

Polarity in Behaviour

Last week I was sat in a beer garden trying not to watch a family with a howling dog. I kept glancing over and realised what was happening. The dog would whine endlessly when his owners were not around. The response from the mother was to dote on the dog. She would kiss him and hug him. This would elicit a positive response: tail wagging and rolling over. The response from the father was to hit the dog in the face. This inconsistently and polarity confuses the hell out of the dog. No one really wants him to whine; that’s a separation anxiety behaviour, but he knows that 50% of the time he will get love from the female owner and so he continues.

This happens time and time again in children. One parent offers one technique, the other another. The result is that the child has no idea what to do. There is the risk of him or her bonding more closely with the parent who does not withhold love. And we wonder why there are so many broken families?

Social Conditioning

Conditioning if done for the right reasons and from a place of love can be immensely beneficial. Conditioning yourself to eat a healthier diet or have a daily exercise regime is your way of looking after your mind, body and soul. This stems from the part of you that wants to show yourself love. The same goes for conditioning yourself to be kinder to your partner. Let’s say you’ve developed a detrimental routine of criticizing his or her punctuality. Conditioning yourself to approach the issue with love and understanding serves your relationship far better. The other person no longer feels under attack, but rather on your level.

Conditioning in the form of manipulation for an individual’s personal gain is harmful. On an individual level, we see this in relationships whereby one person has some unaddressed trauma. Instead of healing this, they use it as fuel for subconsciously manipulating someone in their lives to temporarily make them feel better. This is done at the expensive of the manipulated.

On a larger scale, we experience conditioning in society. We’re meant to strive for money and a college education. Supposedly happiness equals getting a well-paid job, owning a home, getting married and having babies. Also, did you know that the world is a dangerous place and everyone a serial killer or rapist? We are force-fed mainstream media telling us that all the important stuff is right there: that’s all we need to hear. We are pressured into thinking that we must look a certain way to be considered beautiful by others.

All of this is harmful. That is, until you realise that you’re playing a game and are free to live differently and make your own choices.

Photo: Flickr

 

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reach out

I use this space on the World Wide Web to scream and shout and roar and talk about the day-to-day and regurgitate the slime I’ve been fed so that I can analyse it and transform it into something more worthwhile, more contributory towards lighter and brighter times. The thoughts, the whirring in the cavity of my skull that has me verging between questionably insane and thoroughly alive gets too much, too often. I have always vowed to germinate purpose in prose, though today is one of those days that mental diarrhoea has taken over, I am afraid. Bear with, or pop back in a few days’ time…

Sometimes I look around me and wonder what’s going on. Rather frequently I look around and seriously question how things got so chaotic. I’m referring to the collective, existential crisis on the globe.

There are times I feel like I’m the only one, surrounded by dead bodies moving from place to place; zombies, if you like. I feel prompted to poke and persist and question everyone about their drive and their ethos and their desires and all at the same time run away from it all and whimper at this lack of awakening at large. Shortly afterwards I delve into a fantasy whereby I discover the means to teleport to a place where beings have got it right; clearly somewhere far away from Earth.

How did greed and rigidity broach the forefront of existence on this planet and become a baseline from which we must all model ourselves and warp ourselves and condition ourselves? It is trying to force a block of steel into a silicone mould and expect it to transform. Why are we allowing ourselves to be told how we should look and act and think and how we should live our lives? Its happiness misconstrued. It’s the death of creativity and expansion. It is sinking to the bottom of Dean’s Blue Hole, to undergo anaerobic digestion of your body and soul, never to emerge whole or capable again.

I’ve been called an idealist before; a term bestowed upon me by those who have truly given up, or are so comatose to the freedom of life that they may as well be in a hospital bed. It’s brash and I’m not accusatory, but this is my plea of sorts to the universe for an answer, for change.

Is it good enough to assume that life is cruel, people are cruel and within the animal kingdom there is no rhyme or reason to beings that are simply labelled ‘a bad egg’? The behavioural ecology studies I have read on various species displaying behaviours that would be deemed by us as ‘cruel’ are performed – in theory – because of evolutionary developments and the belief that these organisms know no different. You tend to see these ‘cruel’ traits displayed across most or all individuals collectively fighting to increase their biological ‘fitness’ and contribute more offspring from their own bloodline into the future. That’s really what it all comes down to: surviving. There is an inherent drive to survive in us all, from man to mayfly.

An example of this is the mighty lion. Adult lionesses are social beings that work together to hunt and take care of the pride and young. The male lion is a solitary creature who must fight his way to be the leader of a pride. Let’s say you have a pride with a group of lionesses, one male lion, and several lion cubs. A lone male lion who has been wandering the savannah will one day make an attempt to fight the current leader of the pride – taking his place if he succeeds – and then makes the ‘cruel’  decision to kill all the lion cubs currently in that pride. He does this because all those cubs are of the genes of another lion; he doesn’t want those genes being carried forward; he wants his own. So he kills all the cubs. Shortly after, all the lionesses enter oestrus and he begins to make new cubs from his own genepool. If this lion is strong enough, he may maintain his status with the pride until the cubs grow big and strong; the females growing to maintain loyalty to the pride and learning from their mothers, the males going off to conquer new prides themselves. But he may also be outcompeted by another lone lion desperate to take a pride, in which case all his young will die at the paws of another male and so the cycle continues.

Imagine this behaviour amongst humans. It’s disgusting, right? But this is the thing, we know that and we make the choice to live differently. It can be considered common knowledge that killing or harming another human is bad and instead attempting to lead a peaceful, loving life is good. We have an inner ‘guiltometer’ and we know when we’re hurting another and it simply doesn’t feel good. Yet some of us do it anyway.

We hurt when we conquer land that isn’t ours. We hurt when we engage in war and victimise those who look or live differently to us. We hurt when we have the power to help a nation, but instead we deny its people of basic resources like food and water.

So what perpetuates this pain? It really comes down to power struggles. Could it be one charismatic individual with a bad idea and poor morals who charms an army into bringing forth a sick ideal? Yes. Is it these ‘armies’ of lost individuals who are traumatised, broken souls wanting a sense of belonging that are so desperate to be a part of something that they sacrifice the consequences of inflicting pain on others? This is what I believe to be true.

We seem to be a destructive people who are not serving our children in the best way possible. And unfortunately it is these people who were not loved enough or treated well as children who grow up – unless they happen onto the path of self-help – to do the damage. It has to stop here. We must heal ourselves and realise the responsibility in deciding to raise a child. If we want a better future for the planet, it starts with this. Everything starts with those early years. If you are going to be a parent, I shrug, but if you commit to being a good parent, I take my hat off to you and love you a thousand times over.

Photo: Noor Kadir (rana) via Flickr

I know I’m not the first to write about this and I also hope I’m not the last. Resting somewhere in that middle range, I feel prompted to discuss parenting after the topic arose in my office yesterday. Specifically, I want to talk about why being able to have children is not the same thing as being meant to.

Now let’s rewind and break it down here. From a biological perspective, we are programmed to reproduce as a species, sure, but from a spiritual perspective, there is so much more to us than the animalistic eat, sleep, and mate routine. We have devoured and destroyed many beautiful people and places on this planet, but have also created beauty and evolved to learn from our mistakes (although we’ve still got a long way to go on that one!). Look around at the world that humans just like you have designed and you can see why I say we’re different to other mammals and thus cannot be lumped in with them.

Part of the mechanism of societal evolution is the combining of different skillsets and strengths to produce something greater than any one individual alone. It is the same as swarm mentality; one insect alone isn’t intelligent, but a swarm is genius.

Alongside our different skillsets and strengths are our talents and interests and all of this combined creates our identity: what makes you, you. The layer on top of our identity is our emotional health. I’m talking about the trauma which we carry with us either from childhood or adulthood because we have endured situations where we weren’t treated with love and kindness. As such, we behave in a particular fashion or carry with us particular burdens that infiltrate into all of our relationships – especially those we have with our children.

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A good parent is someone who has the right personality (wants to give, nurture and provide a life for another), is aware of their own emotions and has identified destructive behaviours. They are not perfect (as nobody is) but lead with good example and freely emanate love. A contrast to this is a person who does not want to make the time or sacrifice of having to put another’s life before their own; perhaps they are not yet ready, perhaps they will never be; either way, an unwanted child can quickly lead to resentment which wreaks havoc on both parties: a child who feels neglected and a parent who is miserable because they are not living the life they desire.

Of course there is a whole spectrum of circumstances in between those two scenarios. There are parents who did not plan on having children but unexpectedly got pregnant and then found their lives finally had purpose. There are those that were told they could never have children, but then again – surprise – and they found themselves to be natural parents. Then there the people that are deeply unhappy in their marriages and trick themselves into believing that having a baby will somehow rectify the situation. Unfortunately the result for these people is that they end up with the stress of both a child and an unhappy relationship. The list goes on.

I don’t have children myself and do not plan on it anytime soon. As such, I can’t write this from a parent’s perspective. But, I can write this as someone who comes from a broken home, because I had one parent who wasn’t built for the job. If more people spent half as much time dealing with their own emotional issues as they do rotting their brains in front of reality TV, we would be well on our way to a society of savvy souls capable of understanding ourselves and why we are the way we are. Of these people, those who desire to be parents could really give it a good shot.

Although all of these things apply to both genders, I know that we are still living at a time where men and women of a certain age are not viewed in the same light. This is something I really hope to see change in my lifetime. I detest that when we – as women – get to ‘that age’ we are expected to a) be married and b) have children. Men seem to be able to get away with the ‘eligible bachelor’ card much more easily. It is what we have been doing for so long now in so many aspects of this society: forcing us as pegs of all different and intricate shapes into the same round-shaped holes. I have a bounty of respect for the women of the world that make the conscious choice not to have children; they know it isn’t for them and realise that they can contribute far more as an ‘aunt’ than as a mother. They deserve to be treated exactly the same as the excellent mothers who do pursue parenthood.

If we don’t understand ourselves, how can we possibly begin to understand others? More importantly, when are we going to start accepting that each of us is individual and cannot be expected to fit the old paradigm of what men and women are ‘supposed’ to do? Things are changing now and we have an opportunity to focus on healing ourselves and bringing future generations into this world surrounded by love, rather than resentment. I would like to see more conscious parenting and respect for those who do not feel it is right for them.