Jun 20, 2008

Disguised truth

Today I heard a child screaming in the dormitory's corridor: „I don’t want, mommy, I don’t want!“ It continued for a few minutes, then faded away, I guess in the end the parent got her way.

For me it was heartbreaking. I’m just writing an article about relations between parents and teenagers and the most important thing I’ve picked up is simple – listen to each other.

Why is it so hard to hear a child? Just imagine yourself screaming: „I don’t want!“ and nobody caring why, instead just blaming you for complaining until you stop resisting.

As if parents have a weird anxiety that if they don’t force their children to behave according to certain standards their children will fail as acceptable citizens.

Anxiety confused with love. Doing what is best for you, never thinking why. Following standards even if you don’t like it, but because you started to believe at some point of time that this is how it must be.

What standards anyway? Those standards vary from family to family – if you should always take an umbrella with you when it’s raining, if using public transportation is good or bad, if you should eat everything on your plate, if going out without a bro is sluttish or not, if smiling without a reason is weird or a must-do. Those are not universal laws, they are merely actions that are not right or wrong, but vary from one culture, tradition, habit, belief etc to another. But as people are different, they should have the freedom to choose a way that suits most to their unique character.

Forcing those actions in the name of „universal and right“ creates an illusion that there are no truths. I guess there are not, if you never hear your gut feeling and have learned to ignore the tiny sensations that always give away if you are acting according to it or not.

For me truth is not an action, instead it's bunch of principles, repeating themselves in all the religions, philosophies, people authentic stories and lessons about life, thinkers discoveries, even some help-yourself handbooks. So it can have many faces, but the source is the same.

In this light it’s heartbreaking to see the effort that goes in teaching the right way instead of guiding how to find your way. I guess a child knows better what face does her truth have, unfortunately it gets lost quickly if you are not heard.

Imagine if you could just be natural and speak from the heart. What would you say? What would you do?

I must create some chaos

I’m afraid of the unknown. I have no guarantees, only dreams and aspirations. I have my broken self image, that gets fixed during the journey, but who knows which parts I haven’t noticed? And sometimes even when I try, I’m unable to find my cure.

Yet the unknown is here every day. No one has walked this path. Or maybe has, but I don’t know this person. And I’m not sure if this person could help, as we are bound to be alone through our uniqueness.

Next day has so many choices. This moment does. It could be ordinary, but it’s not - it has a potential to be whatever. And having a choice makes me restless, makes me curious, in need to move on, expand, learn, grow, stretch. It makes me disappointed, weak, sad. And it makes me humble, small, connected, part of it, wise.

This very moment puts me in unknown. Am I up for it? Am I courageous enough to live this moment?

Or I just let it pass. Hide for it and deny it ever existed. Just ignore life with it’s full excitement, merely exist day by day, comfortably, discontent deeply buried somewhere.

I can do that. I am doing this, much too often. Why? Because I’m scared of unknown.

What would happen, if...? What WOULD happen?

Here I am, it has happened already, luckily often enough. I have my story, not a comfortable one.

I need to make it even more uncomfortable, more in unknown.

So I have a choice right now, with this moment. Ability to be scared of it fills me with so much gratitude.


An astonishing poem that inspired me today from Art of Hosting mailing list, written by a practicioner, Tenneson Woolf Grandma, who died this April. "She was a feminist, a visionary, a gifted leader, a tough warrior, a beautiful midwife."


grow and I must stretch and

feel the unrest and discontent

with my own circumstances

no matter

how comfortable I have made them

the need to grow begins to haunt me

when I grow too comfortable

I cannot explain it

nobody taught me how to explain it

there are no words

just the constant ache to expand a little

and feeling that need

like a tooth that needs fixing

and needing also some place in which to do it

and there being no arena for me, woman


and man too sometimes man – humanity

and there being none

for my need and

the awful ignorance of how to fill it

and I must fulfill

this need somehow

from my not knowing any other way

I consciously and unconsciously must


Jun 19, 2008

Hold on to your illusions

I'm reading currently an amazing book from Robert Cialdini called "Influence". It reveals simple and yet effective techniques how most of the people are influenced every day. One experiment that showed how our self image is influencing our actions (and how it can be used to get your way) made me rethink the importance of the mental pictures we have about ourselves and others.

The experiment was conducted among some home-owners in California, who were asked if they could display a 8 cm diameter sign saying: "Be a safe driver". Majority of the home owners agreed to fulfill the small request, which also showed them as responsible citizens. However a few weeks later different volunteers asked the same home owners to install in their front lawns a very large billboard stating: "Drive carefully". Amazing 76% of the homeowners agreed in contradiction of 83% of homeowners in the same neighborhood who refused, but were not asked 2 weeks earlier to display the small sign.

Displaying the small sign had changed the self image the homeowners had about themselves - they now considered themselves as responsible citizens who acted to serve the common good. This image of themselves made them compliant also to a much bigger request that came later.

We act according to what we believe we are.

The same principle is found from Martin Seligman book "Authentic happiness", which he calls "Hold on to your illusions!" One survey revealed that the bigger the discrepancy and inconsistency between what you think of your partners strengths and what your mutual friends think of him/her the happier the relationship. So if you friends find your guy quite an average Joe and you consider him as a delightful mixture of Brad Pitt and Dalai Lama - you are right! Apparently your partner actually starts to change towards the direction you believe him/her to be.

We all have a natural need to act consistently with what we believe about ourselves and others to be.

Knowing this doesn't it make so much sense to review your beliefs about yourself and people around you? If our self image makes us who we are, then what is this picture we have right now? And what would we want it to be?

What you think of others is what they become. What you think of yourself is what you become.