Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Metaphor of Quantum Physics

Our universe operates based on a system of carefully defined laws. For instance, gravity, the most popular force we know of, can be defined like so:

FN = Gm1x m2 / D2

All of these laws cannot be broken.

And if you think this way, then there is no such concept of free will. How can there be? Our universe is defined by laws; so at the moment of the big bang, the moment of creation, the laws of physics took over everything. Planets were attracted to stars, to black holes, dust clouds formed galaxies, and empty space remained just that: empty. Chemicals cannot bond in ways that violate the laws of chemistry, and so organic compounds will only form under certain situations and in certain conditions, and react with a set amount of chemicals and no others.

To put it simply: time is written in stone. Everything you will do and every thought you will have is determined by the laws of physics and how chemicals react in the big squishy mass of proteins that is your brain.

That is a thought I have been grappling with for some time. I thought simply accepting that time is written in stone was enough, but I knew there was more to it. I don't have any issues with the idea that free will does not exist, and that all of life and all of time has been predetermined, but for some reason, the idea would just not leave my head.

I also knew something else: that life was full of probability. I also knew that we do have free will, and that life is not written in stone. It is difficult to explain such a duality, but it's something I just knew.

And then I remembered that physicists disagree with eachother on a massive scale.

Quantum physics defies all the laws of conventional physics.

For example, a very popular experiment in quantum physics is the double slit experiment. Basically, a physicist fired a beam of atoms at a plate with two slits in it. The results of the experiment were absolutely amazing. The pattern one would normally expect on the other side of the slit is a simple pattern reflecting the slits; essentially it would be like a beam of light through a window, where all you see are the beams that pass through the slit. But what came instead was an interference pattern.



The beams of atoms weren't just choosing one slit, or the other. They were choosing both at the same time. As the beams passed through the slits, they were interfering with themselves.

But when the physicist attempted to observe what was happening, the beams began to react just as you would predict: they choose a path. But when you do not observe them, they choose both.

Essentially, in quantum physics, all logic is defied. Before you directly observe an atom, it exists in every state possible all at the same time.

When I began to think about that, I realized that our unvierse is built on these unpredictable atoms. They have even been proven to be in more than one place at the exact same time. I realized that our world is built on laws and probability, equations and mathematics. We can accurately chart the course of planetary bodies for thousands, and even millions and billions of years. We can predict exactly what will happen when two chemicals combine, and what the products will be.

But all of that is built on atoms, and quantum physics.

And in the world of quantum physics, nothing is certain, and everything exists in every state possible all at the same time.

So yes, time is written in stone... at a certain level. We are the unpredictable atoms, existing in all states at once. And all the layers above us are the layers that operate on laws and cannot be changed.

Or can they?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imperfections

Imperfection

Humans are imperfect. The laws of nature are perfect.

Or so we think.

At the moment of the big bang, the moment of creation, the universe exploded. The four fundimental forces of our universe were a "superforce", pushing the universe out in all directions. But if that were so, we would not exist.

At the moment of the big bang, the universe did not expand evenly in all directions. There were imperfections; chunks of the universe that traveled together, leaving empty space in other directions.

However, there is a theory of supersymmetry. It states that in the moments before the big bang, our universe was unified. All four forces, gravity, electromagnetism, and the two strong and weak nuclear forces, as well as matter and everything else in our universe were all one. It also says that over time, these forces and particles separated, in a very asymmetrical fashion, giving us the world we see today.

There is also another explination. It is string theory. Quantum physics is very sci-fi most of the time, and string theory is pretty much the empitome of science fiction sounding theories.

String theory compares our world to music. It says that all particles are strings. Gravity particles, atoms, light particles; they are all strings. The key, is that these strings have energy, and are constantly vibrating at different rates.

Did you catch that? The basis of string theory is that our world is still unified. It is assumed that everything, everything is all made up of the same thing: strings.

String theory says that our universe is all still unified.

Questions

A Few Questions

But first, a few facts. We know light bounces. We can use mirrors to bounce light back into out eyes, thus giving us a reflection. We know that things light does not bouce off of does not appear. So for glass objects, we can see through them because light does go through it.

We also know that color is caused by differing wavelenghts of light. Things appear to have color because the object aborbs all light except the color that it appears. The reason plants are green is very simple: chlorophyll absorbs all light except green light. If the plant absorbed all light that hit it, it would be black. If it reflected all the light that hit it, it would either be white or like a mirror.

That all seems well and good. But I have a few questions.

If you have a white room, and a single light source, all the walls appear white. But if you were to place a black object in the room, the walls stay white. Why? Shouldn't all the walls appear darker because of the light that the object absorbs? And for that matter, if the object was brown, why is it that the walls stay white? Shouldn't the light that bounces off the object be brown, and then bounce off the walls (which are white and reflect this brown light) making them appear brown as well?

And for that matter, consider this. Light has a size. We cannot observe some things with a microscope because they are simply too small. When scientists need to observe extremely small things, they use an electron microscope. Beams of electrons are smaller than beams of light, allowing scientists to observe incredibly small particles.

But if light has a size, why can't we touch it? We can see it, and it has a size, so should't it also have weight? Light is affected by gravity. That's why black holes appear black. They attract all light, and don't let it go. So why is it that when I cup my hands, I didn't capture light? If I had a perfect sphere, and created a perfect seal, and the inside of the sphere was mirrored and absorbed absolutely no light, when I instantly slam it shut, or for that matter, put a lightbulb inside of it, should it not remain lit up, even if I turn off the lightbulb?

If light is bouncing off of us every second, why can't we feel it? Sure we can feel it's heat, when we absorb the infrared light with it, but shouldn't we feel it if it is affected by gravity and has a size?

I have all these questions, and even more. Sure, I could go to a quantum physicist, or an electromagnetic engineer and probably answer a few. But these are trivial questions. To some curious people, it would bug the hell out of them. They would search their entire lives for these answers. And some would even become PHD certified doctors to find the answers, constantly running experiments and tests to find the answers. And once the answer was found, what then?

I search out questions. Not answers. I search for questions like these, because understanding life is not about answers. Searching for answers is searching for limits.

Searching for questions is searching for the limitless.

Answers close doors.

Questions open them.

Friday, December 25, 2009

You

Suits... Faces... Masks...

No matter what you call them, there are many different sides of you. There is the you at work, the you at church, the you in public, and the you at home. There is the you that spends time with friends, the you that plays with your children, the you that your significant other sees, and the you that exists when you are alone.

These are all different parts of you, and they are all you.

Many people devalue the true person that exists, so they create a new person to hide it. They fear that people will not approve of who they are, so they create an image to fit the other person's view.

And this continues. A person will meet new people, create a new person, and devalue who they really are. And as this continues, the approval of the new people seems to confirm the lesser value of the true person inside.

That small person inside begins to take a very different appearance. It begins to look more like a monster than a person, and starts to create fear. It's value is so low, that you fear even looking at it will make people hate you.

Many people are stuck in this cycle. The fear they feel from the person inside just keeps them away from it. For most people, they can't escape this cycle on their own. It takes a large jolt to shake them out of it. But once they have been shaken from this cycle, they will realise that the person inside is not to be feared, but accepted.

And the cycle they have been repeating will be used again. The process itself is not wrong. It was simply used in the wrong way, and for the wrong person. The process is simply a tool, and for a long time, the tool was used for other people. But that same tool, the same process of creating other personas, can be used for yourself. You just don't create someone to fit someone else's view, you create someone to fit neccessity. An actor does not create a character to appease the audience, he creates a character to fit the script.

And we are all actors, simply playing our parts. Because like William Shakespeare said, all the world is a stage.

And all the characters, all the faces, all the suits, all the sides, all the personas, and all the facades are all simply puzzle peices, which together, make you.

Expectations

I gurantee you that there are lots of dissapointed people today. You would think that nobody could be dissapointed after christmas, but I gurantee you that there are plenty. And it is all about expectations.

When someone makes a christmas list, they are expecting every item on the list to appear under the tree that following christmas. And more often than not, that list will not be fufilled. And because the christmas did not live up to the list, it was considered dissapointing to the person who made the list.

My favorite part of christmas was never the actual opening of the gifts, but the night before. That mysterious, ominous feeling. It's like if you just had x-ray vision, you could see past the wrapping paper and into the box beneath. Because once you open the box, all the mystery is gone, and christmas is over. Sure, the toys are all fun, but you never really get that mystery back.

When we think of the future, our brain creates a perfect temporary world. In this world, people never slip, glass is unbreakable, and mistakes never happen. In this perfect world, emotions are perfect, everything is fufilled, and you get everything you want. However, this is nothing like the real world. In the real world, those boxes that are filled with gold and jewelry in your mind, are really filled with books or batteries.

When we think of the way we want things to go, when we make plans and lists, we are really creating expectations. Even if the party was lots of fun, the person who threw it is going to be dissapointed because the pizza man was late, or because the movie didn't work and another one had to be found. The party did not live up to the expectation, and was therefor considered a failure.

The trick is to expect the worst. When you plan a party, expect nobody to show up. Expect them to tell you "Screw off" when you invite them. Expect to need to call a hazmat team to clean up the aftermath. This way, you see the other side of the balance. When invite them, sure some will say "screw you", but there will at least be one person who says, "Sure, I'd love to come!" That is much better than what you expected. And when people do show up, that is more than you expected, and when the guests leave the rooms reasonably clean, that is again more than you expected. This way, what seems pessimistic, actually helps you. If you expect the worst, you will always be pleasantly surprised. And if everything does fail, you won't be dissapointed, because you expected it.

But even that doesn't always work. After a while, you just stop expecting things. It's not that you just give up, but that you stop creating these images of the future. You stop planning, and you stop making lists.

I'm writing this at 12:45, there is a tree full of presents upstairs, and I expect nothing. I have absolutely no clue as to what the boxes contain, because I didn't ask for anything. It could be anything from more raw cookie dough to a new quad-core processor for my computer. And no matter what they are, it's more than I have right now, so I'm happy. And if they're all full of crap I'll never use, then that just puts be right back where I am now. And you know what? I'm content with what I have right now.

Slip and Fall

This world we live in, the world we all inhabit, is colored by our perceptions. All that we feel, all that we see, smell, touch and hear is simply electrical signals sent to our brain by elaborate machines designed to change shape when temperature fluctuates, when molecules fit into certain receptors, and when electromagnetic radiation energizes chemicals. Our brains have to construct a three dimensional reality from these signals.

Our brains are designed to keep us alive. Those that succeed at passing on their genetic material are the ones that succeed at the game of life. That is natural selection. It cares nothing for emotion, or any concepts of morality. Natural selection is out to test you, to mess with you, and to kill you. If you survive nature, you win. If you survive long enough to pass on your genetic material, you win at the game of life. That is biology. That is nature. That is the way of our world.

That is a very scary concept. The idea that all you are is a carrier for DNA. Just a vessel. A temporary container. That once you pass it on, nature will throw you away like a used tissue. You fight for survival, and beat nature in the face, find a mate, and produce a child. Then you're done. That is a tremendously scary thought. It's so scary, that we reject it. We convince ourselves that there is more to this existance than that. There has to be. That thought is scary becuase it devalues you. To think that all you exist for is DNA. It demolishes the image you have of yourself. You see yourself as this big buisness man, or a powerful doctor. And then when you think that nature sees you as a pile of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen designed to pass on DNA, and then throw you away, it removes that powerful status you assigned yourself.

But as a human being, you still think there is more to life. There has to be. All of life, all the experiences, for nothing?

We all color our life through perspectives. Some actually live with that idea, that life means nothing. That we are just piles of squishy DNA. And some live for a higher purpose, for themselves, or for a god of their choosing.

But no matter what we choose, there is a human tendancy to stick to it. When we find a perspective, we stick with it. It comes back to life being scary. It's like rock climbing. When you climb a mountain, there is a tendancy to stick to the hold you have found. When you find a good position, a good hold, you tend to stick to it for fear that you won't find another hold, and you'll slip and fall. But there is a secret to life.

You need to slip and fall.

When you walk through life with a perspective stuck to you, it limits your view. You get tunnel vision. When all you see in life is god, or sales, or sickness, it constricts your life. It's like a horse with blinders on. The horse cannot see anything exept what is in front of it. But slipping and falling, is like taking the blinders off. When you slip and fall, you loose everything.

But the best thing about loosing everything, is that you have everything to gain. It's like a person who has hit a brick wall on their path, and they're too close-minded to step back and notice another path around.

Slipping off the hold you have glued yourself too is a life-changing experience. Those who experience it are lucky, and those who do not are also lucky. It is painful; it is hard. I never said you don't hit the ground when you slip and fall.

But once you shed yourself of the blinders you put on, once you look around and notice that there are more perspectives to view the world through, you go from five senses, to infinite senses. You can look at a court case like a laywer, like a judge, like a jurer, like a prosecutor, a defendant, a witness, a stenographer, even if you're at home watching it on TV. You can see through anyone's eyes.

If you are approched by a junkie,you stop seeing a blasphemous hethen, you stop seeing a satanist, you stop feeling pity, you stop - Scratch that. You see all of those things. You see him as a hethen, a satanist; you feel pity and sympathy. But most of all, you can see through his eyes. You see the pain he feels, and you know how that pain feels. When you slip and fall, you can see through his eyes.

You can have empathy for him.

Slipping and falling is empathy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Animals

Our brain is a very complex network of chemicals and mushy cells.



However, our brains are the most advanced network of mushy chemicals. Other animals don't even compare. Monkeys are the closest, simply because they utilize tools to solve problems. But they can only solve simple puzzles that a 5 year old would consider easy.

The reason we can solve such complex puzzles is very simple: the top of our brain is more advanced than other animals. In fact, most of the top of your brain is dedicated to problem solving and memory. All the real regulation of your body temperature and hormones is done by your brainstem and the lower portions of your brain. You can damage or loose entire chunks of the top of your brain and live a normal life. But the moment your brainstem is damaged, it's pretty much game over.


Dammit, I need another quarter!

The interesting thing is that the top of your brain, the part that cognatively processes information, is the newer part. The parts of your brain that handle emotion, are the older ones.

See, before we could process information such as, "That man is holding a knife and looks angry. He'll probably stab me", creatures had to have a way of knowing that something is dangerous or beneficial. Thus, emotions evolved. Emotions direct an animals actions. If something is pleasurable, the animal will like doing it. If it causes fear, the animal will avoid it. Emotions are built on survival.

Emotions are caused by many things. The most notable however, is memory. Every creature that posesses a brain has some form of memory. A brain processes information based on the past; your brain is constantly trying to predict the future. Even walking is so finely predicted that a small step you didn't anticipate will throw you off. Emotions are attached to memories to direct future actions. For example, a scientist wired a rat's pleasure center to a button. Not a chemical or anything like that, the scientist litterally zapped a rat's brain whenever a button was pressed. However, he also gave that button to the rat. When the rat realized that the button produced pleasure directly in it's brain, it just pressed the button non-stop. The rat went so far as to ignore food, water, and sleep, just to press the button over and over.

But consider this for a moment: are animals' emotions similar to our own?

While we were evolving to the form we exist in now, we know our brains changed. But did the brain remove emotional centers from the brain, or expand on them? Since we feel a massively complex amount of emotions, I would assume that our brain expanded on our emotions a great deal. The cognative abilities we gained only helped to expand on emotions. We still feel the same fear and pleasure that our cats and dogs feel.

That would mean that since we feel the same emotions, we are able to empathize with animals. Animals are just easier to read because they don't run emotions through cognative filters like we do.

Animals run on just raw emotion.



Survival

Coming from a life of adversity, I often am left wondering what other people must be suffering behind closed doors. Anxiety? Fear? Anger? Anguish? Sorrow? I do not discount the happy moments in life, mine or anyone else's. But for all of those moments, there are equal moments that are left unsaid, left unattended, ignored, or sluffed off as though they were nothing. And in truth, they eat away at us bit by bit over time, no matter how we choose to evade them or make excuses for them.

We can go from one day letting go a simple slight, where in you are overlooked or deemed unimportant, to it growing to the point where we look for this in others as a sort of validation of our existence, because we start to see ourselves through those other people's eyes and opinions. We see ourselves and set our worth by the words, behaviors, and actions of others.

It can leave one feeling ashamed and not worth while in this life. It can lead one into abusive relationships (for both men and women). It can lead to a self defeating attitude, where in everytime your about to succeed at something you stop....and fail. It can lead to depression and anxiety, and even suicide attempts.

I don't say these things in judgment. I say them because I've been there. I've let the sorrow, over small things and large alike, build up to the point it started overflowing. I was depressed, self defeating, and lost. I was in abusive relationships, which served to validate my own low opinion of myself. I let myself be abused to validate that feeling inside me. And then I tried to end my life, a number of times.

So you see, I'm not just throwing random things out there. I'm not just talking about your story, if you can relate to this. I'm talking about my own story, as well. This is part of who I am and why I write the way I do.

The darkness of that place is cold when you are alone or when you imagine you are alone and no one understands you. Its harsh when you feel unloved and invalidated. It pushes the walls in on you to the point you where you go from merely surviving to actually trying to escape the pain any way you can. And even, sometimes, where death seems like an end to the sorrow and the suffering.

And what I want you to know, above anything else on this website and no matter what your situation is, is that you are not alone. There are others out there that not only understand, but also share in your suffering. And there are people who care, who love, and who empathize ~ with you.

And that the most basic truth is that if you weren't here....whether you close yourself off away from the world or something worse...the world would have one less light in it, because you matter.

For a long time people tried to tell me that, but I was to lost in my own sadness to hear them. And then finally when most people had given up on me as a lost cause, when I was at my lowest someone took my hands and told me that again ~ that I mattered in this world. And that one voice was enough to pierce the darkness with a sliver of light. That one voice full of love, full of empathy, and full of compassion telling me I wasn't alone and that I mattered.

I don't know that this message will do that for you. I don't know that I'll be that voice. The important thing isn't from who the message comes, as long as it comes, in the end. So look and listen when people reach out to you. Its not pity. Its a validation of your existence and your worth.

And then sit down and think of all the things that are worthwhile within you. Write them down. And keep adding to the list. Put it in your purse or in your wallet as a reminder when you start to slip. Its not a cure-all, by any means. But its a first step to validating yourself and rediscovering the worth that already exists within you, whether you acknowledge it or not.

And always remember, even if no one is there at that moment to say it to you, you are not alone. Just look around you and you will see other people suffering right along with you, even if you can't see it on the surface. Everyone doubts. Everyone hurts. Everyone gets angry. Everyone gets anxious. All you have to do is look and recognize it, to see there is no shame or guilt in those feelings that needs to force you to push them down, hide them, or avoid them at all costs.

It's okay to cry, just as much as its okay to smile. Its okay to feel, because you matter. And its also okay to recognize that you aren't alone in this world, despite what you've suffered and seen in your life. You aren't alone.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fractals

Have you ever heard of a fractal? Perhaps you've seen this image before:



A fractal is an infinite self-replicating pattern. If you take a line, and draw a shape such as a triangle into the line using the line, and then continue to draw triangles into each available edge, you have a fractal.


They are quite amazing patterns. They are beautiful patterns which can be created mathematically, and as such have been used in everything from the study of the coding of DNA to movies.

However, one of the most amazing facts about fractals is that it is seen in nature. Nature loves fractals.







But by far, one of the most interesting things about fractals is that if you zoom into a fractal, you get the same image. Since it is a self-replicating pattern, no matter how close you get to it, or how far away you look at it, it is the same image.

A Fractal on Neave.com

Now, we know fractals exist in nature. And we know fractals are identical no matter how far or close you get. So this gives rise to the question: how much of life is a fractal?

How many deeper layers are there?

For example, statistically speaking, words make up close to 7% of a conversation. So that means that 93% of a conversation is nonverbal. Body language, vocal patterns, microexpressions, etc.

The entire conversation itself is a fractal. Just as you can't see every edge of a fractal, there are deeper levels to explore. The audible portion of a conversation holds a meaning via the words used. If you go deeper, exploring the conversational fractal, you'll find that the vocal patterns have meanings, as do the pauses between words, the emphasis on words, the words that are not emphasized, the way the voice is strained or relaxed, I could go on and on. And even those separate parts can be analyzed, finding deeper fractals behind those.

There is an infinite complex of layered meanings behind everything.

But... the reverse is also true as well.

If you zoom out of a fractal, it looks identical. We all operate on one level. The thing most don't realise, is that the entire complex of information that is beneath everything is also above everything. Above the level we observe, the fractal continues.

And every level and every part is identical. While they may hold different specific meanings, in that the fractal's coordinates are different, they look identical.

All you have to do is shift your perspective.





Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Empaths: Hypersensitivity, Anxiety, & Coping

Have you ever walked into a room full of people, and found yourself feeling as though you are suffocating? How about feeling overwhelmed when there is an emotional current running through a crowd you are among, like intense anger, immense sadness, or even joyous elation?

As Empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP), we tend to be hypersensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others. And when you compound this with a crowd of people, the feelings can become so intense that they can induce moments of high stress and anxiety within an Empath and/or HSP.

Let's look at the Empath traits list to help bring the point of this discussion into focus:

16 Common Empath Traits

1. Empaths are quiet achievers but expressive in area's of emotional connection. They find that talking about emotional issues is a great outlet that aids in understanding themselves and others.
2. Some empaths can be the opposite of what an empath 'should' be because they are overwhelmed or unable to handle emotion and what they feel in the world around them so they block their feelings.
3. They can be focused outward, toward what others feel, rather than themselves. This is a common trait to many people who have not gone through a process of self development.
4. They avoid disharmony caused by emotionally turbulent situations. This type of situation can easily create an uncomfortable feeling because an empath feels this emotion.
5. Empaths are emotionally sensitive to violence and general chaos.
6. Empaths are sensitive to loud noise and television. In particular, television programs that depict emotional drama like the news and police shows.
7. They struggle to comprehend acts of cruelty and crime that involves hurting others.
8. They struggle to comprehend suffering in the world and are often idealists who theorize about fixing the worlds problems.
9. Are often found working as volunteers, with people, animals or the environment.
10. They are expressive so they can often be found in areas of music or the arts.
11. They often have the ability to draw others to them. This includes children and animals as they have a warmth and compassion that is beyond normal You may find that strangers always talk to you if you are an empath.
12. They can be good listeners as they generally have an interest in other people.
13. Empaths can be moody or have large mood swings due to overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotion.
14. They are likely to have had, other paranormal experiences in their life. This could be astral projection, psychic ability or a variety of other experiences.
15. Empaths are daydreamers that have difficulty keeping focused. This is common with people who deal more IN emotion and neglect other area's of their mind.
16. Like many people on a spiritual path Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. This is something that occurs to everyone however empaths are often more aware and therefore 'look out' for it.
Traits Of A Highly Sensitive Person

1. They feel (their own) emotions deeply.
2. They are sensitive to the emotions and emotional states of people around them.
3. They are easily hurt or upset.
4. They tend to avoid conflicts, arguments and other types of confrontations.
5. They tend to become agitated and/or flustered when surrounded by large groups of people or lots of activities.
6. They tend to need time to themselves each day.
7. They tend to be creative types who deeply appreciate art, nature and music.
8. They are prone to suffer from recurrent depression, anxiety or other psychological disorders.
9. They tend to be slower at recovering from intense stimuli, because they are sensitive to other people's suffering, noise, light, caffeine, pain, medications, temperature, and other stimuli.
10. They tend to be introverted and have rich,complex inner life, because they are able to concentrate and process information deeply.
When viewing these two lists of traits, there are some very obvious commonalities associated with high sensitivity and anxiety. Blocking emotions, avoidance of disharmony caused by emotionally turbulent situations, can be moody or have large mood swings due to overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotion, tend to be slower at recovering from intense stimuli.....and so on. The list is filled with traits that are anxiety related due to the overwhelming nature of hypersensitive people (Empaths, HSPs).

I want to show you the symptoms for something called Social Anxiety Disorder, though this in no way diagnoses and/or points a finger at anyone. There are many levels of stress induced anxiety, and this is merely offered for informational purposes only. If you find you have questions and/or concerns, please consult a physician, therapist, psychologist, or counselor for help.
Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) ~ Quoted From The MayoClinic.com
  • Intense fear of being in situations in which you don't know people
  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities
  • Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
Here is a Social Anxiety Disorder Self Test, from the Anxiety Disorders Association Of America.

This is an anxiety disorder that can occur, even within an Empath, when they begin to feel the weight of the world closing in on them, particularly during social functions. Because, you see, being an Empath/HSP does not mean you are above or beyond such things. And because of the hypersensitivity, it can be hard to recognize in yourself. But beyond that, anyone with a hypersensitive personality is prone to anxiety, whether they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (defined as: a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety)or not.

So let me ask you this? How many of you have had the urge, on more than one occasion, to lock yourself in your home and have no contact with other people....at all? How many of you have to move away from all social outlets, just to 'recharge your batteries'? How many of you have avoided certain personality types and social functions (because of personality types involved), due to feelings of being overwhelmed emotionally and/or emotionally drained?

These are valid and realistic questions for any Empaths and HSPs who, in particular, feels as though they are drowning in an emotional ocean of other people or feel overwhelmed by the emotional weight of those around them, let alone the world.

Now we come to the obvious question of how to cope with these issues, even if you do not have a particular Anxiety disorder, in a healthy fashion, instead of the usual coping devises we resort to when we are feeling anxious or stressed.

Now there are several tips I can offer in learning to cope and/or manage this issue. These range from general stress and/or anxiety to more pronounced forms like anxiety disorders.

  1. Recognize your emotional limits. Recognize the boundaries you have set for yourself. They are there, whether you recognize them or not. And if you feel yourself going beyond these limits, to a point of being overwhelmed, pull back and detach. Learning to detach, not completely emotionally dissociate, is a key coping skill for any Empath and/or HSP.
  2. Learn relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, and visualization. They can come in handy, to relieve the buildup of stress and anxiety.
  3. Never feel ashamed to spend time alone, when you need it.
  4. Spending time with animals or a walk in nature, where there are no chaotic and complex emotional states flowing at you all at once, has the power to sooth.
  5. If there are certain personality types that overwhelm you, to which you can not avoid associating with because of family association, work relations, or social obligations, try to spend as little time with this person as you can. Small doses of this type of person are easier to cope with than long periods.
  6. Don't be afraid to consult a therapist, if you feel like you anxiety has reached a breaking point. Therapy and medication are not signs of weakness, they can enable coping, healing and growth.
  7. If you feel yourself completely pulling away from others, to the point of actually choosing to be alone for a majority of the time, take small steps to reintegrate yourself. Online resources are available to help support you and help you begin to cope with what is happening:


Information & Links

For more detailed traits lists of Empaths, try these sites:

Identifying As An Empath
What & Who Is An Empath?
Empath: Traits Of The Psychic Sponge
Traits Of An Empath
The Real Traits Of An Empath

For more information on Social Anxiety Disorder:

Social Anxiety Disorder
WebMD: Social Anxeity Disorder
SocialAnxietyDisorder.Net

Coping With Stress:

MayoClinic: Tips For Coping With Stress
Stress Management: How To Reduce, Prevent & Cope With Stress
Stress: How To Cope Better With Life's Challenges
CDC Tips For Coping With Stress
Factsheet: Coping With Stress Checklist

Coping With Anxiety:

Coping With Anxiety
Coping With Anxiety: Can Diet Make A Difference?
Coping Statements (Affirmations) For Anxiety
10 Tips (+1) For Coping With Stress & Anxiety
Articles About Understanding & Coping With Anxiety

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Forest

Have you ever felt eyes burning a hole in the back of your head? That burning glare... that shadow you can feel behind you, but you can't see it because every time you turn around, it's gone? There is a forest that such a feeling inhabits. When you are in this forest, you feel this all the time. It's the trees. It's the moonless sky. The starless sky. In this dark, dense, foggy forrest, you can feel the stare of the trees. You can see them judging you. Evaluating you. Weighing you. And you know you will never make the trees happy. You begin to fear the trees. So you run. You find new trees. And when you do...

The trees are happy. The new trees enjoy your company. They don't judge you, because they don't know you. And as soon as you let down your guard, the trees begin to hate you. The glare of the shadow returns. You no longer meet the standards of the trees. Suddenly, you see trees everywhere. And then you remember:

It's a forest. The trees are everywhere. And so you run. You find new trees. And once again, the trees are happy. They enjoy your company. But inevitably, the trees will judge you. And the cycle will repeat itself. Over... and over... and over.

This forest is immense. It is gigantic. It seems infinite. The only thing is, it's not. The forest does have an end. There are paths out of the forest. But these paths are long. At times, they are downhill, and easy. It feels good to finally have found a way out. You can feel the relief of finally getting out of the forest. The freedom from judgement, from opression, from that awful burning glare of the shadow that judges your every thought. However, as you travel this path, it begins to rise. The path becomes steeper, and steeper. And the path itself turns from soft mossy dirt, to hard rock and roots. The rocks occasionally slice open your bare feet, and at times, the slippery wet roots provide no traction for your foot, and you painfully fall down. It is at this point, that other paths appear. In fact, other paths have always been an option. These paths are clearly defined, and nice and soft. They slope downhill, and even have clearings that are visible, areas where the trees are at a distance, and cannot judge you.

So you finally decide to take that new soft, better path. You reach that clearing, and feel at ease. The trees are at a distance. Their gaze is but a small itch in your mind. You scratch that itch, and lie down to rest. Your wounds heal. You quench your thirst with a small amount of water that flows through a tiny stream nearby. Eventually, you are well rested, healed, and satisfied. Except for one thing... that itch. You try to scratch it now, but it won't go away. The gaze of the trees... they are still judging you. Even from the distance that they are at, their burning glare is gradually getting hotter and hotter. It is as if the clearing is getting smaller, and smaller. Until it gets to the point, that it is as if there is no longer a clearing, and you are trapped in the surrounding judging forest again.

And so you run. And as you run, you find a new path. This one is nice, soft, and simple. But as you travel it, feeling the excitement of finally getting out of the sickening judging forest, the path becomes difficult. The jagged rocks and roots injure and trip you, as the path rises and becomes steeper and steeper. And again, you find a new path that leads to a clearing, and you take it. Again you lick your wounds, free from the trees. But again, they close in on you, causing you to run, finding new paths, taking them until it becomes too difficult, and retreating to a clearing.

And as you repeat this process over, and over, and over, the memory of the previous time haunts you, causing you to go further along the jagged path. The path slowly turns from a path, to a climb up a mountain. However, when the path becomes too difficult, you take the nice soft path again. Sadly, some do not make it out of the forest before their time is up. However, the process begins again, when that person is reborn in the middle of the forest. The cycle begins again. Just as you were reborn in the middle of the forest. However, there is a difference. The previous run through the forest has lasting effects. When you take that path out of the forest, you follow it further. Your strength and determination to make it out was not lost. It is conserved between lifetimes.

Eventually, there is an end to the forest. It is easy to tell when you are close to escaping the forest, as the trees become less dense. Their glare feels as if you were in a clearing, but they no longer close in on you like before. The judgement is still there, but it feels as if the shadow is leaving. The path begins to level off. The jagged rocks and roots are still there, but as you travel, you learn how to avoid the rocks and roots. You learn the way of the forest. You learn how to shut out the voices of the trees, and the burning glare of the shadow. You gain a keen instinctual sense of how the forest works. Your eyesight increases to watch for danger; your intuition hightens to tell you where water and clearings are. The path does not become easier to travel, you become more adapted to the path.

And as you travel to the end of the path, there is a roadsign. The path does not simply lead out of the forest, it leads further out. The difficulty is not finding the path at this point, but having the willpower to continue to travel it, even when it appears that it is barren, and desolate. The path you have followed leads out of the forest, and into a desert. The path is still very visible, but devoid of any life. Just sand. No plants, no cacti, no animals. Just the path. As far as you can see. It is here that you live with the path you have chosen. There are no other paths through the desert. Just the one you are following now. It is not jagged, or slippery. It is not steep or rough. It is remarkablely simple. Happy to be free from the opressive forest, from the lava burning hot stare of the trees and shadow, you practically sprint down this path. The desert is a godsend, a blessing. The other paths that taunt you with their softness and ease are gone. Just this one lone path. You slow to a walk, content with your choice. The forest is now but a dot in your vision as you turn around. If you sit down, and lose your way, the roadsigns let you know which direction you came from, and which direction you are to go. Just the one path. No others. No distractions. Just this one lone path. You can turn back, and go back into the forest, and choose another path, if you want. Or you can keep going through this barren wasteland of a desert, with the one lone path through it. And you might even do that. You might go back, and choose a different path.

And the cycle will begin again. And you might die before you get through the desert that lies at the end of each and every path out of the forest. But the only difference is, you would just start the cycle back over again. You would feel the judgement of the trees, and hike through the forest and exit, see the roadsign, sprint out of the forest, and journey along the path through the desert. But as you journey along the path through the desert, the same thing that happened in the forest happens here. You adapt to the path. You retain your keen hightened abilities you gained through the forest, but you also gain a higher sense of yourself. The treck through the desert has forced you to be with the one person you fear the most: you. You are the only company you have, you are the only other lifeform on the desert path, in fact, you are the only thing that moves on the desert path. For as far as the eye can see 360 degrees around you, is just sand. But as you adapt to the path, as you adapt to being alone, the path becomes easier. And what was once a depressing lonely trudge through endless piles of sand, becomes a walk in the park. It is here, that the end of the desert is in sight. But you don't sprint, you don't feel any relief in the sight of the end of the desert. In fact, you might feel bad that the desert ends. You were quite enjoying it. Once you got over the incredible loneliness, it was easy. Simple. It was a break. But as you approach the end of the desert, another feature presents itself. It is a cliff. A canyon. Bigger than any other canyon, the other side is not visible. It is as if the world itself just ends. The bottom of the canyon is not visible. All you can see is the face of the cliff you stand on dissapear into nothingness. Not darkness, almost just a fog. The path just ends. There is no other way to go. And you know what you have to do. Everyone knows what they have to do.

If the forest ended in a cliff, everyone would seek out another path, fearing to make the choice. The forest alone does not prepare one for making that kind of choice. That is the desert's job. So once you reach the cliff, you feel there is no reason not to make the choice. If you walked all the way back through the infinite desert, back into the forest, leaving both would be a simple matter. The forest would pose no threat, your keen senses would protect you. The desert would be no issue, you might actually enjoy walking through another. And you would find, as you reach the end of that other path, that it too ends in a cliff. Doing that would be simply for curiosity's sake. However, once you reach that cliff, you have already made the choice. Reaching that cliff, the issue is not to decide, the issue is to figure out why you decided the way you did.

The issue is to find out why you make the leap of faith. That is what the cliff requires. We have all already made the choice, now we have to find out why we made the choice.

It is difficult for me to say where I am on this cycle. I feel as if I am exiting the forest, and at the same time, crossing the desert, and at the same time, deciding if I want to jump or not, and a the same time, falling.

I realise now, I am doing all of these things. There is no such concept of time in this forest. Time is relative to me, and me alone. In this journey, I am on my own schedule. If I encounter someone else, I can empathize with them. If they are in the forest, I remember how it feels to be in that forest. If they are on the desert, I too know how it feels to be in the desert, and if they are deciding to jump, I too know how that feels.

The thing is, we are never alone. I can leave breadcrumbs in someone's forest. A line. A mark, A roadsign. I can leave these things to help someone through their forest, and along their desert path. They choose whether they want to follow those crumbs or not. The help can even be so much as to leave someone a detailed map and compass to help them through the forest, and I can walk with someone along their desert path. But it is still their choice. I cannot take them and force them to follow the path. It is their choice. And whatever they choose is of no concern to me. It's their cycle, not mine.

^.^

But there is something more to all of this, I can feel it. It is as if I have an O ring welded to my chest, and a steel cable is pulling me along my path. It feels like I am being constantly inspired to write, to paint, to sculpt, to create, to do SOMETHING! It is as if there is a giant winch at the end of the path, standing at the edge of the cliff. It feels like my chest is about to be ripped off of my ribcage. I can resist all I want, but no matter what I do, it will always be pulling. I am in control, however. And I have to do all the work. I have to walk over broken glass and ice to get to this winch. It is not a physical pull, but a mental one. It is a calling. A drive. Shamanism chooses you, not the other way around. The thing I do not know, is if everyone is chosen.

Even the feeling itself is a metaphor with libraries of information to be gleaned. It is pulling, not pushing. It is saying, "Come to me" instead of, "go that way". It is pulling, not forcing. It is driving, not controlling. It is compelling. IT is gentle, but powerful. It is reinforcing, not degrading. It is positive reinforcement, not negative.

I know what it feels like to be on the soy sauce. It feels like a constant epiphany. It feels like you know something HUGE, but you cannot put it into words. You are aware, and cognizant of everything. Nothing escapes your gaze. Nothing escapes your awareness.

And I realise what I've done. I've made the choice. I've taken the leap of faith. I've taken the soy sauce. And I'm falling. Once you make the leap, the path takes over. You no longer work, you use your skills. You no longer force, no longer suffer from other people. The path takes over, and your skills are freed up for other things.

No matter how much I write, no matter how much I realise, there is still this sun-sized ball of epiphany that I know I know. I can feel it. It is massive. I know I know it. But the problem is, I need to know it consciously. I can feel it coming in little trickles. Like the drips of a half-open faucet.

Falling is not a bad thing. It is simply another form of the path. It is here that the path takes over, and it guides you. You have no fear of falling. There is no fear of what lies at the end of the fall. You simply surrender yourself to the path. And that is the choice. You have to realise that it is here that you let yourself be guided by the path you have been struggling to follow. It is as if the path itself is a relationship. At first, it's rocky and hard. But if you stick with it, it eases up. But then, the truth of the path shows itself. It is a lot more that what it was underneath. You see the path for what it really is. And once you are comfortable with what the path is, it asks you to let it have control. The path is really yourself. At first, you fight and struggle, then you realise who you really are, and finally, you make the choice. You choose to give up control to who you really are. That is why nobody who is presented with the choice denies it. Because at that point, you are comfortable with yourself enough to jump, rid yourself of the person you created, and surrender to who you really are. The path itself is shamanism as well. At first, it is rocky and hard. And then, you see a break as a desert, and have to come to terms with what the path really is. And finally, it asks you to surrender yourself to it, and jump. This may very well be the greatest metaphor I've ever written. There are so many little details I want to add to my peice. But that is for refinement. Right now, I'm writing for myself. I wasn't writing this for EC, or for anyone else. This was all for me. Screw EC and how they'll react to this, if I ever post it. This piece feels perfect the way it is, and as it is, it is not suitable for it to be posted on EC. I feel like modifying it will degrade it. Even all of this part. It is all one large snapeshot of me jumping. Surrendering. The metaphor itself is wonderful, and absolutely amazing.

The biggest thing I realise is that there really is no path. There never was a path, and there never will be. The entire time, the path was an illusion. You blaze the path. There are an infinite number of paths out of the forest. THis means that the paths are indistinguishable from the forest itself. Where one person sees a path, the other sees a massive amount of jagged rocks and broken glass. Where one sees a desert path, the other sees a pile of sand. The only thing that matters is which way we choose to go, how we adapt, and if we choose to stay on the same path or not. The other distracting paths all lead off in other directions.

I can feel the "soy sauce high" beginning to fade. But I still know there is this sun-sized ball of epiphany there, waiting for me to find. However, what I also know is that the faucet is no longer dripping. The epiphanies are over for now.

Now it is just time for me to think.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Conveyor Belt

All of life... we are simply standing by a conveyor belt. The belt is infinite in both directions, and you are standing right in the middle. Items will pass you by; they just keep coming along the conveyor belt. And you can pick one up, and stare at it... examine it... flip it over and try to understand what it does. And when you are finished with it, all you have to do is place it back on the conveyor belt and let it go where ever it is destined for. Your actions will not affect any schedules, and no item is off-limits.

However, you can do whatever you like in this room. You can take every item off the conveyor belt, and keep them all for yourself. You can stuff every item in your pockets, throw them all over the room, or make a little pile behind you. That is your choice. However, these items have weight. They will weigh you down.

You can also try and stop the items from going past you. You can make a wall with your arms, or throw yourself over the conveyor belt. But that will do you no good; the items keep coming. They will simply pile up behind you, and even overflow and fall all over the ground. There is no way to stop the conveyor belt. Trying to choose which items you want to pass you is a waste of energy. The items are not harming you. It is the act of trying to judge which items are okay to pass you that is causing the harm.

See... the easiest thing to do is simply let the items pass you by. If there is one you do not like, or don't particularly care for, don't pick it up. It is your choice. If one catches your eye, or interests you, you can take it and study it for as long as you like. There is no time in this place.

Now... All those items in question? They are emotions. As an empath, we are bombarded by the emotions of others. Trying to block and shield them to protect ourselves is the wrong approach. If they are not your emotions, then they are not caused by anything in your life, meaning they will leave. You can pick them up, study them, and hang onto them. But if you keep them, they will only weigh you down. Trying to block them will cause them to pile up and overflow.

The best thing to do is let them pass.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Empath Story Of Survival

My Story

When I was 14, I started having flashbacks about things that happened to me as a child. The depression got so bad and the emotional pain so excruciating, that I believed that if I didn't get help I would end up taking my own life.

But when I spoke up about it, I wasn't believed. So my behavior patterns became so erratic that I finally ended up trying to take my own life on more than one occasion. And that's when I was finally taken seriously, that I had severe issues that needed to be dealt with, instead of shunned.

But sadly, even after all was said and done, I could not halt the progressive nature of my own depression. So I began to act out sexually, to compensate for the gaping hole that was inside of me. I sought to fill it up with the sense of need my partner, any partner I had, had for me in times of sexual pleasure. And the men I chose were always emotionally manipulative and, at times, abusive in a multitude of ways.

In my private world, I also began to lose myself inside books and Shamanic Paganism. Those to, where used to compensate for what was missing in my world. They offered me a modicum of control, where as in my real life I had none. I also began cutting, to relieve the weight of the pain I was feeling. It also gave me a sense of control, I seemed to be lacking in my real world.



All of these things gave me a sense of being able to feel again, to alleviate the numbness and emptiness that I was constantly fighting against. And all of this was done in private, away from those who I didn't think would understand.

The trend of self hatred and depression continued into my early 20s, where I found myself without friends, lovers, or any real family support (because I still blamed them for my issues), until finally one day I began to contemplate suicide once more. So I began to hide razor blades, for the opportune moment when I could gather my nerves to do it properly.

I was mired so deep in darkness,in the murky depths of the shadowlands, that all I could see was darkness and feel was the constant sense of drowning, no matter how much I fought against it. And I sank deeper and deeper as time progressed.

I wrote this, around that time in my life in order to give myself hope.

Drowning in the Shadowland

I walk in shadow, hidden from the light of day and
I bear the burden of other's pain and it consumes me.
I am drowning in the murky depths of the Shadowland
and I am lost in its dark currents.
Where is there sanctuary from the crashing waves
that rush to press down ever harder on my spirit essence
stealing my breath and severing any
lifeline of hope that touches me?
Where is there solace upon which I can
rest my weary form and weep away the pain?

The Gods cast their nets,
in search of nectar and ambrosia,
down into the dark abyss and find only me,
barren and exposed to their wrath without censure.
Darkness abounds as I huddle alone in my prison.
The storm rages, churning the silence and solitude
that vibrate through my solitary cell.
I am drowning in the shadowland
where silent screams are unheard
and beauty has no form, no shape.
I am bound, chained, and entangled,
in the web of my own dark heart.

My options are few and my choices unclear,
but still I will not let go of this world, of this pain,
of this burden that sinks me deeper into the quicksand
that is so prevalent in my life.
I will not end my battle, defeated and crushed,
only to suffer it again on the morrow.
I will carry this weight that has no form,
and I will survive.
And as I drown in the shadowlands
I will find light in its depths and
life beneath its murky currents.
And I will live to see tomorrow's dawn
rise anew in all its glory.

Then one day, a kind woman took me in. And she opened her heart to me and let me pour out all of the pain that had been bottled up within me. So we sat, for 6 hours straight into the night, talking. And she was the epitome of a Human Angel to me, because of the unconditional love and empathy she offered to me.

At the end of the night, as she had told me to do, I opened my heart, which had laid in shattered pieces for so long within me, to Spirit. And I asked for the simple blessing of being saved. And I felt something miraculous come over me....touching my heart.

Mind you, things didn't get better for me over night. All this even did was open me up to a new way of thinking, where in my worth wasn't based on the validation of others or the support or withholding of support from other.

It was like slowly climbing my way out of an abyss, with one sliver of light to guide my way. And along the way, my hands and arms became torn from the jagged rocks as I climbed. They were my battle scars and trophies, from my own struggle and climb.

And when I reached the precipice, after years of toil and struggle, I was finally free.

All About You

It doesn't matter what your issues are, whether you were abused, neglected, are hypersensitive, was raped, or whatever else has eaten away at you over your lifetime. Please note that it does matter, I just mean that we all go through our own issues, and despite that we all share suffering despite the differences in issues and experiences.

What matters most, is that you realize, above everything else you will ever be told, that you are not alone and that you matter. Your voice, your life, and your very existence.....matter.

Sometimes we find this truth in the arms of a loved one who is supporting us. Sometimes we find this truth in the words of a random stranger on the internet who stopped to offer you a kind and loving word. And sometimes we discover this for ourselves, without the support and validation of others.

Either way, the one thing you need to hear the most....is that you, as a person, have innate value despite what you do with your life, whether you've hurt people in the past or feel like a failure because your life has seemingly been wasted. Despite those things, you are special and unique for no other reason than you are here and you are alive. You're existence is a miracle, without a doubt.

So don't just think about it, believe it and have faith in it....in you. Because I do, even if I don't know you. You...whoever you are, matter to me. And you are loved. ^_^

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Profile Of A Narcissist & Narcissism Symptoms

Let me introduce you to someone. He/she is probably similar to someone you have in your own life. So lets see if you can relate.

A young boy, whose mother is selfish and egotistical, watches as she manipulates others. She is constantly the consummate victim. From her perspective, people are always slighting her or hurting her in some way. From other people's perspectives, she is deemed a drama queen and 'emotionally needy'.

As he grows, he watches as she is emotionally distant from him, is overly critical of even the slightest mistake he makes, and holds such extreme expectations of him that he can never measure up. And because of this, he is often left with feelings of inadequacy and shame.

As he grows up, he begins to do poorly in school. He covers the inadequacy in his academics with being popular. Perhaps he plays a sport full of competition and aggression, such as football. And he blames his lack of academic excellence on his teachers, his parents, his sport, and/or his friends.

This tendency toward aggression shows itself in other ways, as well, as he bullies other students who are smaller than he is, smarter than he is, or possess a quality he does not like. And this can be from simple mocking of someone deemed 'undesireable' to outright bullying through the use of his fists.

In his intimate relationships, he chooses women who are emotionally needy and easily manipulated. He needs a partner who will fawn over him, adore him, mirror his emotions, and stroke his ego. Often times, he places any perceived errors in judgment he has at their door. And he always places himself above them, making his accomplishments of greater importance than his partners, even to the point of making theirs nonexistent.

While in high school he takes a part time job. He loves the feel of ready cash in his pocket. And on a whim decides to quit school and goto work full time. It is a minimum wage job which earns him the money he needs for his immediate interests.

As he turns 18, he decides to move out on his own. And he asks his current girlfriend, who has been finishing up her senior year of high school to move in with him. She is in alt at the prospect because he went from popular jock to bad boy. And so she agrees, believing they are soulmates and/or twin flames.

She graduates high school, before she moves in with him. He is strangely absent from her graduation ceremony on the excuse he has to work. And as she moves in with him, he spends alot of time talking about the good ol' days when he was a football star, while excluding any discussion about her recent graduation.

Time moves forward. They've been together for a year. She's slowly lost touch with all of her friends and has even become extremely distant with her family, speaking with them by phone only sporadically. She works a menial job, having only a high school education, and yet she brings more money in than her boyfriend.

He has continued working, and yet he has begun to job hop. This is because he believes, with each job he takes, he has been belittled or not used to his fullest potential. He feels like they don't appreciate what a good thing they have. So he moves on, with the knowledge that he is meant for bigger and better things than their limited use of his skills.

With each new job, comes bouts of anger and frustration. And this is usually taken out on his isolated girlfriend. He blames them for not seeing his full potential and he blames her for making more money than he does. So he laughs at her and demeans her by calling her job meaningless and her worthless.

Finally, he stops working all together, because he can not find a job. He uses the excuse that no one wants to hire him because he is to much for them to handle. So the sole income coming into the household is that of the girlfriend.

When she is done working a shift, returning home is like a living hell. This is because he is home all the time and now has the time to brood and obsess about what is happening to him. So he begins to take his frustrations out on her ~ physically.

At first its a bruise here and a scratch there. But then it begins to escalate into more violent behavior. And anything can set his temper off, even a perceived slight or a misunderstood comment.

Finally, she reaches the limit of what she can take when he threatens her life. And she leaves him and rushes to her family for support.

He is angry and feels belittled/abused by the one person he thought he could count on. So he begins stalking her. And one day, in a fit of anguish and rage, he ends her life.
Its a long story isn't it? Perhaps you can relate, perhaps not. Perhaps this is an image of your own life. Perhaps you know someone like this, whether its the man or the woman. And perhaps you had a parent like his.

The Definitions

Personality: Personal beliefs, expectations, desires, values, and behaviors that derive from the interaction between culture and the individual. Personality is the behaviors and techniques for solving problems that are used by an individual. Personality is to the individual as culture is to the group.

Personality: A set of qualities that make a person (or thing) distinct from another.

Trait a distinguishing feature of your personal nature or personality

Maturity: noun. 1. a being full-grown or ripe, 2. a being fully developed, complete, or ready, 3. a becoming due (Webster's New World Dictionary).

Narcissism, also called malignant self love, describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego. The terms narcissism, narcissistic, and narcissist are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

The Narcissist is described as turning inward for gratification rather than depending on others, and as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige. Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to self-centeredness. It is also colloquially referred to as "the god complex".

Emotional Dissociation is a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even from the body. Dissociation is characterized by a sense of the world as a dreamlike or unreal place and may be accompanied by poor memory of the specific events, which in severe form is known as dissociative amnesia. The term dissociation refers to the act of separating or the state of being separated.

Another way of looking at in traditional psychology, Emotional Dissociation is the unconscious process of separating certain thoughts or behaviors from a person's identity or belief system.

In other schools of thought, such as NLP, dissociation describes the separation of various components of our experience from one another, for example separating the unpleasant feelings from a memory from the visual stimulus that triggered those feelings.

Dissociation may be contrasted with association; a person is associated into their feelings when on recalling an event they still get some of the feelings associated with the event, as if they were reliving the episode. When a person is dissociated they do relive the feelings that they had at the time, they are as it were at one remove from the emotions.

Narcissism Criteria

The DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder are:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy, as indicated by at least five of the following:

1. a grandiose sense of self-importance

2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

4. requires excessive admiration

5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

7. lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

The Progression

Now that we've seen some definitions and the criteria for narcissism, lets look at the slow progression of this man's life. Because within it are two personality disorder types which tend to feed off one another.

In the formative years of this young man's life, he was subjected to a parent who was both selfish and egotistical, to the point of neglect and out right emotional and psychological abuse. She had to be the center of attention. And this was the working model of an adult he had to model himself after.

As he grew older, and could not live up to his mother's grandiose expectations, he fell into a pattern of aggressive behavior which only got progressively worse with age. When he started to rebel against those expectations, he stopped attempting to deal with the reality of his life and instead turned to his own ego, to act as a salve to his wounded heart. And in the progression of his life, when one thing after another failed his expectations, he would shield his own wounded pride and ego by placing the blame on others.

In terms of emotional maturity, I'll first refer you to the signs and symptoms of emotional maturity and immaturity.

Signs Of Emotional Immaturity

1. Taking no responsibility for what happens. If a person consistently plays "victim" about events and is unable to reflect on what he or she did to contribute to the result, it's a red light. Accountability is the sign of the opposite: mature people consider what they did - and might have otherwise done - for the result at hand. They also take responsibility for the actions.

2. Making conversations "all about me".
An emotionally immature person steers conversations to ensure he or she is the center of the topic. Immature people also interpret discussions about issues through a "personal filter" that makes the issue about them. They have difficulty separating issues from their ego or personal reactions to the topic.

3. Talk more than listen. Authentic listening requires one to learn about the views and thoughts of others. As a result of it, people deepen their understanding, compassion and empathy. An immature person does not take the time to do this. As a result, they cannot deepen their emotional awareness.

4. Quick to anger or blow a fuse. Emotionally immature people react impatiently, throw a tantrum, swear, act out or get belligerent when things don't go the way they want or expect. They do not mange frustration with the realities of life well, nor manage easily unexpected transitions in processes or routines. Rather than draw on inner tolerance or belief in oneself to manage change, the emotionally immature have a melt-down. An emotionally mature person takes an inner look, reflects, considers the best outcome desired and decides what action will most likely bring that about.

5. Makes thinking errors. Many of the behaviors of the emotionally immature come from flaws in their logic. They often misinterpret social cues, jump to conclusions that are not well thought through or get stuck by beliefs about themselves or others that make it difficult for them to see their own error in thought. It's a form of mental stubbornness. An emotionally mature person opens up to others suggestions or reasoning and considers how it might alter how to consider a topic differently.

It's common to see these behaviors in children, to which we can say "time is on their side". It becomes less easy to be patient with these behaviors when an adult does them. It is easy to disparage such a person by saying "he's juvenile" or "she's high maintenance" behind his or her back. Consider this: it takes emotional maturity to sit down with such a person and candidly suggest, instead, personal counseling or coaching. It could change a life to show someone cares.
Characteristics Of Emotional Maturity

1. The ability to experience and understand our own deepest feelings and needs, and to be able to act on and express these feelings and needs in appropriate and constructive ways. This is opposite from "acting-out" our needs in unconscious, destructive patterns of behavior. This aspect of maturity includes the ability to experience and tolerate especially intense feelings - which inevitably occur in life - and to be able to appropriately express these feelings, or contain them until an appropriate and responsible means for expressing them is available.

2. The ability to act on and react to life circumstances with intelligence, sound judgment and wisdom. This aspect of maturity is opposite the tendency to act impulsively, without taking the opportunity to think through our actions or consider their consequences. (Wisdom: having the quality of good judgment, learning and erudition, soundness.)

3. The ability to recognize, empathize with, and respect the feelings and needs of others. This is opposite from a selfish and chronic preoccupation with our own needs, with no awareness of, or sensitivity to, the needs of others.

4. The ability to delay the immediate satisfaction of our own needs, so that we may attend to other more pressing needs or actions. This is opposite from a condition in which our immediate needs always take precedence over all other needs.

5. The ability to love - to allow another's needs, feelings, security, and survival to be absolutely paramount - just as if these were our own.

6. The ability to adapt flexibly and creatively to life's changing circumstances and conditions. This is distinct from the tendency to respond to life's challenges in rigid, outmoded behavior patterns that are no longer particularly effective or appropriate.

7. The ability to channel our energy, both positive and negative, into constructive contributions to ourselves, to others, and to our communities.

8. The willingness and ability to be responsible and accountable for our own circumstances and actions in life, and the ability to differentiate our responsibilities from those of others. This is distinct from blaming others and seeing ourselves primarily as the victim of other's behavior, or from maintaining a sense that we are somehow responsible for the happiness and well-being of all those around us. Responsibility arises from a stance of strength and competence; it does not include pronouncements of blame, shame, guilt, or moral inferiority/superiority, as all these are judgments added to the basic condition of responsibility.

9. The ability to relate comfortably and freely with others, to like and be liked by others, and to maintain healthy and mutually satisfying relationships. The ability to choose and develop relationships that are healthy and nurturing, and to end or limit relationships that are destructive or unhealthy.
In terms of emotional maturity, which goes from dependence to independence to interdependence, this man is stuck in the dependence phase while wearing a mask of independence as a shroud to shield the fact that he has low self esteem and carries a deep abiding sense of inadequacy.

Low Self Esteem

Low self esteem can be, but is not always, an underlying cause of narcissistic behavior. Beneath the cover of superiority, which is in fact a fragile ego state built to support and sustain a person who feels as though they are lacking in some way, lays insecurity, inadequacy, shame and fear. And the overriding need not to be 'discovered' in some way.

In terms of the case study above, this was derived from the man's formative years where his working adult model, his mother, displayed the same types of tendencies. And because of her grandiose expectations which in turn rain constant derision upon his head for his failure to 'measure up'.

The constant pressure to measure up and the the continual assault upon his psyche when failure occurred, which was more often than not, helped to push him into the mental state of associating success with his mother's personality type. And this was later expressed within his life through aggressive and prepubescent behaviors centered on the 'self', with no thoughts to others save in how they interacted directly with him.

The internal associating with his mother's personality that was done, with the belief that this would garner him success in life, also veiled the reality of this man. He had extremely low self esteem.

Emotional Dissociation

To recap, Emotional dissociation is a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even from the body. Dissociation is characterized by a sense of the world as a dreamlike or unreal place and may be accompanied by poor memory of the specific events, which in severe form is known as dissociative amnesia. The term dissociation refers to the act of separating or the state of being separated.

In connection with narcissism, and our case study more specifically, what we discover about Emotional dissociation is that the man in the profile has detached himself from his own true emotional state, which he seems to have a difficult time dealing with, and has replaced it with a personality which he associates with success. This personality is completely reliant upon others for validation, in particular, the Narcissist's chosen partner. And when this personality is not 'fed' regularly by others frustration and anger can erupt into violence.

Thus when the girlfriend left him, she took with her the last shreds of support of an already fragile and fragmented personality. And this could potentially explain his erratic and violent behavior at the end of the profile, though it by no means justifies it.

The Point Of This Discussion

The point of this blog was not to offend anyone. My most humble apologies if it has. This has been offered to help you, the reader, get a better grasp on what a Narcissist is. There are many types that were not covered here, though, from those who are simply egocentric to those who have messiah/god complexes. This is but one example of an extreme case.