Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are We merely there WITH, or FOR One Another?



"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself."

- Henry Miller (1891 - 1980)

Six Degrees

The Six Degrees of Separation or "Human Web" concept has been explored in various literally works and the creative arts for many years all over the world.

Essentially, it asserts that all human beings are largely interconnected.

Since the 1990 play and the 1993 film of the same name, the Six Degrees of Separation concept has been prominently deployed in the immensely popular TV Show LOST. It has also inspired films such as Crash and Babel.

Babel Movie Poster


Babel

This is a movie that stars an ensemble cast. It focuses on four interrelated sets of situations and characters - in Morocco, Japan, United States and Mexico.

Basically, a high-powered rifle originally owned by a Japanese hunter is used by two boys in Morocco to critically injure an American tourist [Susan].

At home in the USA, the Mexican nanny in charge of Richard and Susan's twin children is involved in border trespass after attending her son's wedding in Tijuana, Mexico.

Noteworthy themes

Throughout the movie, misunderstandings abound:

> The immediate classification of the American tourist's shooting as a terrorist act, Amelia's [Mexican nanny]treatment by the border police and the treatment of local Arabs by the American tourists. All this has obvious racial undertones.

> Suspicion and misplaced priorities - the tourists in the bus are quick to leave to avoid the desert heat as well as forestall "further attacks" by the locals.

> Political issues between governments significantly hinder quick help for Susan.

Despite the above, and what I found most inspiring, is the willingness of strangers [the local veterinarian and the bus tour guide] to be of help. In fact, the tour guide declined financial compensation from Richard [Susan's husband] as Susan was being carried away in a helicopter.

Somebody for Someone

In their song Somebody for Someone, The Corrs capture the very essence of being there for other people:
"Look at me, see me' 'look at me, save me'

'Free me, find me 'cos if there's

Somebody for someone, yeah look at me"

Somebody for someone

Bridges

A while back, I blogged on the Walkabout about the need to communicate, create human bridges and be united in purpose.

The human bridge is nurtured by introduction, familiarity and co-operation. With a common purpose, everything becomes possible.

We therefore need to be there for one another, even without the presence of a crisis. We have to go beyond merely being there with one another.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sex and Love Addiction Quagmire

NOTE:
This is the final post in my 3-part Valentines Day series. Read the First part and the Second part here.


I used to laugh whenever I read or heard that a certain celebutard had checked himself into a Sex Rehab facility. Tiger Woods, Eric Benét, Charlie Sheen... and the list goes on.

As I grew up and read more, I became more enlightened and open-minded. While in campus, a random book quickly turned into a gem that has so far liberated me emotionally, and helped me take charge of my love life. A love life which I must say, is quite simple but most uncommon.

That said, I bet I can now safely assume that you the reader, are now more open minded in regard to this very unconventional and searching perspective on our sex and love lives.



What is Love and Sex Addiction?

In his book Sex & Love: Addiction, Treatment and Recovery, Eric Griffin-Shelley notes that many of us are very hesitant to label someone an addict, owing to the stereotypes we have of addicts. We instead prefer to refer to these defects of character as "bad habits", something we find more palatable and socially acceptable.

The word addict has a Latin root, ad dictum, which means "to the dictator." When people were captured and sent into slavery, they were sent ad dictum. The idea of addiction as enslavement is something to which most addicts would readily agree. When you are addicted, you feel that you have no choice and are powerless to stop. Addicts are out of balance and out of control.

An addiction is an enslavement to an activity, person, or thing that is characterized by imbalance, lack of control, loss of power, distortion of values, inflexible centralness to the person's life, unhealthiness, pathology, chronicity, progression, and potential fatality. More simply put, an addict is a person who cannot say "no."

A sex and love addict cannot say "no" to his or her impulses to have sex or get into a love relationship. An addict is a person whose thoughts and behaviors are causing problems but who cannot stop them. In addition to these definitions, a sex and love addiction involves a high, tolerance, craving, dependence, withdrawal, obsession, compulsion, secrecy, and a personality change.

A Fearless Moral Inventory

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
- Socrates

Many of us have for a long time mistaken their sex and love addictions as a normal human need to love and be loved, to have company and to be in a meaningful relationship.

The biggest hindrance to tackling the sex and love addictions that many people are in, is the fact that sex and love matters are rarely discussed. Far too many people prefer to handle their own matters of the heart, which unfortunately is to their peril.

The 4th Step in most addicts anonymous recovery programs is a searching and fearless moral inventory of one's life. This then becomes a habitual thing, as espoused in step 10 where one continues to take personal inventory, and promptly admits when they find out they are wrong.

Following are the 12 Characteristics of Sex and Love addicts:
1 Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
2 Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
3 Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
4 We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
5 We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
6 We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support.
7 We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
8 We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
9 We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
10 We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
11 To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
12 We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.

If you still have lingering doubts whether or not you are an addict, you may want to ask yourself the more searching 40 Questions for Self Diagnosis.
Don't be surprised when you realize most of your answers are YES.

A Willingness to Change

"Now willing to listen and take suggestions, I have found that the process of discovering who I really am begins with knowing who I really don't want to be.
I have grown emotionally and intellectually. It has give me my sanity and an all-around sense of balance."

- Safe Haven (Personal Stories in the A.A. Big Book)

If you have gotten this far in this note, you may be wondering why all the details.
The reason is simple: It's not fitting to try to address a problem that is not well defined. As of now, you have found out exactly where you lie [no pun intended] in this sex and love addiction business.

Given what we now know, many would only want to change for better.
Additionally, you'll walk into Valentines well-knowing exactly what your affection for the other part(y)ies is. Is it genuine, healthy love, or a destructive sex and love addiction?

The good news is that you are not alone. Many others are seeking the same answers in their efforts to find meaning in their lives.

It is my believe that once enlightened, many people display an amazing ability to make decisions that lead to choices that greatly improve their lives.
This note shares that information, in the firm belief that you'll then go ahead and make good use of that information.

Now is the time to do the needful, even as we learn and share on matters that shape our lives.

Summary

In the first post, we learnt from David Richo what practical steps there are to help us become human, so that we can gain self respect and build healthy and compassionate relationships.

In the second post, we have sought to be open minded so as to better open our minds to scrutiny, self diagnosis and experience.

In this third and final post, we learn what sex and love addiction is, and further seek to find out if we are addicts or not. We can then use the knowledge so far gained to better define our relationships from now on.

RESOURCES

Sex and Love: Addiction, Treatment and Recovery by Eric Griffin-Shelley

40 Questions for Self Diagnosis

Porn Again Christian [free eBook Download]

Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction

Monday, February 8, 2010

Exiting the Moral Matrix: Ideology and Openness to Experience

NOTE:
This post is the second in my 3-part Valentines Day series, that seeks to take a different approach to Love and Valentines. The first one was Human Becoming: Practical Steps to Self Respect and Compassionate Relationships.


"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
- Herbert Spencer





Late last year, I watched Jonathan Haidt's TED Talk about Objectivity and the Moral Matrix.
His talk inspired this post on The Walkabout.

Nudity or Art?

Weeks later, I uploaded the following photo on Facebook, and a "good friend" whom I've known for years promptly reprimanded me by way of a phone call and a comment on Facebook. Ben's words [not ad verbum] were as follows:

"Pete you can surely do better. I am very ashamed to say the least..."



Well, I had no words for this guy. The fact that he was deeply offended by artwork, and chose to see nudity instead of art, makes me wonder what he'd say if he saw Michelangelo's David [above].

Talking about Sex

"The books the world calls immoral
are the books that show the world its shame."
- C S Lewis

Apparently, the human condition is such that we prefer to look at only one side of the coin. We usually choose to see what is bad, salacious or compromising.

Thing is, sometimes we are so deeply corrupted that we cannot tell that we are compromised in the first instance, let alone reckon to what extent.

When I was in Campus, my friend Fridah was shocked to see me reading Eric Griffin-Shelley's book 'Sex and Love: Addiction, Treatment and Recovery'. She loudly wondered why I would be reading such a book if I wasn't a recovering addict. She however changed her mind after she read several pages of the book.



You can in fact read this book at Questia.

Being Open-Minded

This post should prepare you for what we shall be looking at on Wednesday: Sex and Love Addiction.

Many of us would rather not even think about their sex lives and relationships, always reaching for the private, personal and similar cards whenever these topics are raised.

As Valentines Day approaches we need to be open minded and see ourselves for what we really are. Now is the time to sit ourselves down and take a more searching and serious look at our relationships.

You're be surprised at how much you've been wallowing in a miasma of deceit and self righteousness. Now is the time to get out of this quagmire.

Next, we take a look at The Sex and Love Addiction Quagmire - A Cautionary Tale

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Human Becoming - Practical Steps to Self-Respect and CompassionateRelationships [Get the FREE eBook]

“Once awareness is free,
intent will redirect it into a new evolutionary path.”

- Carlos Castaneda



Human Becoming by David Richo

Well, I have always believed in Learning and Sharing. Because only then can we individually and collectively become better persons, by positively affecting the lives of those we interact with.

That said, I recently downloaded a very profound eBook by one Dr. David Richo [no relations].

The book is titled "Human Becoming. Practical Steps to Self-Respect and Compassionate Relationships" It is in fact a collection of excerpts from his many books and manuscripts.

Dr Richo introduces the book this way:

"We are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love."

– William Blake

It is my considered opinion that you'll find this book worthwhile.
After reading the Introduction, I am so looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Following is an excerpt of the Introduction:
FIRST THINGS FIRST

"There is a grace-full force in us and in the universe. It is a lively energy that is always at work so that we will become fully human. To be fully human is to be as loving as we can be, as free of ego fear and clinging, and as generous as we can be with our innate gifts and talents. This takes psychological work on ourselves and a spiritual practice. When we are committed to such a program, we feel joy and self-respect because we are fulfilling our deepest purpose in life."

PRACTICAL STEPS

"Practical steps are about doing things in new ways. But doing is not the whole picture. We are also receiving graces that assist us. We become fully human not by our efforts alone but also by the assistance of a higher power than our ego that complements our psychological work and our spiritual practice. Abundant grace is surrounding us right now and can be trusted to help us cross our next bridge or threshold."

The chapters are as follows:

Who we really are
Our personal purpose and calling
In the house of the healthy psyche
Dialoguing with the inner critic
Building self-respect and lovingkindness
The givens of life: the things we cannot change
The f.a.c.e. of ego
Befriending our shadow
How to s.e.e.
The cradling technique
Freedom from fears: an inventory and affirmations
Working with abandonment and engulfment fears
Handling our loneliness
Standing alone at the edge of the void
A checklist on boundaries in relationship
Conflict vs. drama
Anger or abuse?
No more punishing or placating
Releasing guilt and forgiveness
When our feelings are hurt
Love and control
Pausing to find our space
Mindfulness
Love as a practice
Lovingkindness
Egoless love
Fate or destiny?
Wholeness within
Unconditional love
Conclusion: What makes us human

Get the eBook

If you'd like a free copy of this eBook, download it from David Richo's web site.
It's in PDF format [684KB], 98 pages.

I bet many of you will find this is a most valuable book, now that Valentines Day is just around the corner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Everything Happens for a Reason - Inspired by LOST

"We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason
All of us, each one of us was brought here for a reason
...It may be hard for the others to accept
But everything happens for a reason."

- John Locke (LOST s05e07 - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham)

Note:
All this week, posts on The Walkabout focus on life lessons that have been directly inspired by LOST. Read previous LOST-inspired posts here and here.

The Walkabout



On 2nd February 2010, the sixth season of LOST will begin airing. This compelling TV show is my personal favorite, and plays a central role in this blog.
'The Walkabout' was accordingly named after the Lost season 1 episode 4 (Walkabout) in which flashbacks of John Locke's life detailed his plans to go on an original aboriginal walkabout in Australia.

Despite being a paraplegic, Locke was determined to go on his walkabout, and insisted that he could do it, a belief he repeatedly and loudly emphasized with the words:
Don't tell me what I can't do.

Destiny

The word destiny has a dual meaning, one that is either predicated on fate or purpose.

Fate: Destiny may refer to somebody's preordained future, a series of predetermined and inevitable events that happen to somebody.

Purpose: Destiny may also refer to the inner purpose of life that can be discovered and realized.

Those who resign their lives to fate eventually find their destiny. Apparently, things just happen and eventually, they often find themselves in situations they'd rather not be in.

On the other hand, those who actively seek to live their lives by making the most of every opportunity also realize their purpose. They meet their objectives, realize their goals and certainly get to willfully shape their destiny.

Human Nature

Human nature is such that we err, and often fall short of our expectations. In fact, our "great" expectations have a way of selling us short. Usually, the unexpected does change our lives. As espoused in the premiere episode of LOST season 5, the character of people is such that...
...they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt
it always ends the same.

The Way Ahead

Despite all this, we do have the free will to change our destiny... for the simple reason that we think, we reason and can make choices.

Perhaps then, we can begin to see that we can challenge ourselves and discover the reason for our being. That done, we can then learn from the past, make the most of the here and now, and consequently face the future with confidence to realize our purpose.

What if we find ourselves being held back by what has happened in the past? What if the consequences of our past actions have already messed a significant part of our lives?

Well, this is a timely question, even as we look back at the resolutions and fleeting promises many of us made early this year but have not yet lived up to.

Thankfully, LOST is not devoid of answers for such questions:
...it only ends once
Anything that happens before that, is progress

Now is the time to move ahead, with the full knowledge that everything happens for a reason. Whatever has happened before is just a part of a bigger whole, of progress. We are in repair - not together, but getting there.

We can therefore go right ahead.

This February, may we exercise our free will and realize our inner purpose of life.

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