What We Don’t Know Hurts

Does anybody believe in the old saying that “what I don’t know can’t hurt me”?  The reality is that we are hurt every day by what we do not know and, in turn, we hurt others.  It is both a shattering and humbling revelation when we come to know what we did not know and realise how so many of our decisions and choices were unconsciously made. Scientists have finally accepted that we have an unconscious and they agree that only a small fraction of what we do and say is consciously chosen. 

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The Mahon Watershed!

The Mahon report has revealed corruption that challenges us as a people to reflect on how it is that so many of our leaders emerged into adulthood and secured major positions of responsibility with such a low level of personal maturity and social conscience?  What has struck me regarding the journalistic responses to the Mahon report is the lack of any psycho-social analysis of its alarming findings.

Personal maturity is where you are one with yourself and have a strong sense of your own and others’ innate goodness. In this mature state you are loving, fair, intelligent, just, expansive and creative and duly concerned for the wellbeing of others.  However, when you are not one with yourself, you can be powerfully and frighteningly defensive.  In this insecure place defences such as aggression, control, dominance and narcissism, being judgemental, critical, greedy, manipulative and arrogant, are unconsciously created and mask your true nature.  All defensive behaviours pose a threat to the wellbeing of others; nonetheless, the purpose of unconsciously formed defences is to reduce the experience of threats from other people’s defences.  It is for this reason that human behaviour is paradoxical and, thereby, confusing, particularly for those who are not at one with themselves.  Personal maturity is a responsibility for each person – clearly maturity is on a continuum from very low to very high – it is a responsibility with which we all struggle and one that requires considerable support.

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Conversation Pieces

Whilst we can discover many things about ourselves by listening in to our conversations with others, we can just as powerfully become conscious of hidden aspects of ourselves by tuning into our inner conversations with ourselves.

Examples of some of the things we say to others are:

  • ‘You never listen’
  • ‘You’re never there when I need you’
  • ‘You only think about yourself’
  • ‘You’re impossible to talk to’
  • ‘You’re sorry you ever got involved with me’
  • ‘You’re perpetually late’
  • ‘You think you know it all’
  • ‘You have no feelings’
  • ‘You make me so angry’

The messages quoted above are known as projections – messages about yourself that you unconsciously put over on others. When you come to a realisation that everything you say is about yourself and you replace the ‘you’ with an ‘I’ in the above messages, you then consciously see what you are saying about or want from another is what you need to say or give to yourself; the messages now change to:

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Raising Responsible Teenagers

When a child or teenager goes on the rampage in response to a ‘no’ from a parent, what is the parent to do? Certainly, a clip around the ear would only be fighting fire with fire and does not model for the young person a mature way of managing a conflict situation. The immediate response to a child who is attempting to gain control through destructive or terrorising behaviour is to physically hold the child in a firm and non-threatening way that is safe for the parent and prevents him/her from continuing the intimidatory behaviour. When it is a teenager, the parent needs to keep a safe distance, maintain strong eye-contact and request firmly that (s)he immediately desists from this disturbing behaviour. If the teenager continues rampaging, then within the young person’s earshot, the parents need to ring the police and request immediate help. This latter response is both a kindness to self and to the son or daughter.

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