Learning How to Live More Fully Human
One of the saddest aspects of the repressed cult mindset, and quite frankly for much of society in general, is the way our fears have been used against us, to rob us, of experiencing our richer and more profound form of human nature ‘now’ in the present. Years after leaving repressive religion many people may still be battling with this joyless mindset.
Being at peace with the world means being at peace with ourselves. Allowing ourselves to relax and become more fully human – without the stain of anger, fear and suspicion. This form of contentment is a never ending challenge with rich rewards yet, learning how to live with ordinary daily happiness, free of fear, is a genuine skill, and requires a hell of a lot of practice. It takes a mature wisdom to appreciate the world and to accept others and ourselves as imperfect, ordinary people. It takes great strength and courage to open ourselves up to being more fully human.
But, if you just came out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses this is probably the last thing you want to hear. You may have lived under a repressive religious thumb for so long that, now you feel much like a Jack-out-of-the-Box – “Don’t tell me what to do” – “Let’s get this party started” kind of person. Which is perfectly healthy in the beginning of our journey to Self. Just, try to be balanced because you’ll have more traveling to do once you are ready.
Whether we have been out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for years or for weeks our goal is to:
Create a life that is more fully human, with greater access to the higher parts of our humanity on the inside; not just a life that looks good on the outside.
So, are we agreed for the most part regarding our goal?
Good, I hope you nodded or whispered yes. I’ll have to assume that you did.
Unfortunately, and fortunately, there is never a straight line to our goal, and there will always be obstacles. You know, I know, we all know on some rudimentary level; certain people and institutions, in all walks of life, want to keep us separated from ‘our’ goal. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were just our training ground. We still have to make an effort to not let our humanity be lulled back to sleep.
Think about this for a moment. How often are we encouraged or, supported in our efforts to reach the goal of living more fully human? Why are certain people and organizations, from all walks of life, wanting to keep us separated from our goal?
The answer is really quite simple. If we reach our goal – we reach Authenticity – and when we are authentically ourselves – no one person, organization, or ideology can ever own us again.
Other than the people who want to control us in their sick pursuit of power and money, I think it is pretty safe to say most humans want to be free and authentically who we are. But there’s fear, so much fear… between who we are now and who we have always been. Remember how this series started; “What a long time it can take for a person to become the one they have always been.”
Overcoming the Fear Obstacle
How many of you remember this (or similar) mind drills? “The world is in the hands of Satan, and joy in the present is worthless compared to…blah, blah, blah.” We all fell into that mind shaft and we all know of or, remember people who still view the world as miserable, dreadful, a dangerously demonic place, and that fear makes them cling ever tighter to their abusers.
For us though, now that we have climbed out of that mind shaft; and some of us have actually filled it in. Now, we have to be careful not to fall into another mind shaft that, much of society, in general, has fallen into. Example: Turn on your TV and what do you see and hear?
A bombardment of fear-based stories. Stories which, just like the jw’s stories; prey on the anxieties we all have, and then hold us hostage once again. Everyday, the world and the people in the world are portrayed as dangerous, something to be feared. Every day true Individuality and Authenticity are portrayed as something to be feared; due to rejection. Other than the absence of Satan, the messages are not much different than the messages we received from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The world and life are large and powerful and we are small and weak.”
It’s easy for us to identify others under the spell of this particular mind washing message. Sometimes, their wounded vulnerable interior of fear and distrust is manifested in their hardened exterior. “It’s too dangerous to let my guard down” “I must limit and control the depth of my humanity” “Trusting people hurts” “If I am authentically me – people will reject me”
We’ve all been there at one time or another.
We sometimes chuckle or, are frustrated by those who are lost deep in their obvious denials – but how often do we look within ourselves for our own hidden areas of denial. The ways in which we shield ourselves from our fears and anxieties?
It’s actually hilarious sometimes – how we can lull our minds back to sleep – delay our progress with tempting lullabies. As humans, our reaching our goal (remember our goal?) inevitably depends upon repeated separations and repeated developmental departures. The first departure for every human being was of course from the womb – then from childhood to teenager, and from teenager to adult where we once again physically separated from our parents by moving out on our own. However, you and I, as X-witnesses – we have to add an additional separation into the equation. A much more traumatic separation from our once cherished and pacifying beliefs system and sense of family and community.
Every human being though, regardless of their religious experiences, has to deal with each separation being farther and farther away from the ancient safe place we all long to return to from time to time. Fear of further departure, fear of the unknown; fear of the challenge and responsibility of increased being – intimidates us back into our convenient rituals, self-limiting beliefs and thinking. Our familiar surroundings. Drifting away as we do through the dance of life, farther and farther from our origins, we are often flooded with nostalgia, a word whose Greek meaning is “pain for home.”
At times, we all love to pretend that we are somehow exempt from such huge parts of life and the responsibilities necessary for our progressive growth. But the reality is – we all (at times) have areas where our consciousness is ruled by our unconscious fears. Fear is what lies behind our persistent anger, our helplessness, our legalistic pursuing of the illusion of control, and our desperate clinging to others for answers.
The agendas of progression versus regression war within all of us each day. Sometimes we are aware of their presence, most times we are not. When the desire to go home prevails, we will choose not to choose. We will remain amid the familiar and comfortable, even when it is numbing and soul-denying.
Our self-sung lullabies will become magical forms of thinking that cultivates lethargy – seducing us with whispers: Just forget, numb out, ignore the summons of your soul to be free, take it easy for a while… sometimes for a long while… sometimes for a lifetime.
Looking deeply within ourselves is not a very popular practice is it? Who knows what we might find. (or who we might find) There was a time though when the unexamined life was looked upon as not worth living. Sadly, the world has changed since those days.
As we move from this part of the article and into the next. It is important to realize that Everyone’s journey begins much deeper down the rabbit hole than we suspected. For example; Were you ever shown or, encouraged to get the most out of ‘conscious’ living and the ever present moment? Were you ever shown or encouraged to lovingly and patiently ‘critically examine’ your own inner life? No. Few if any of us were; and sadly many cult survivors never feel at home with themselves and the world long enough to leave their trauma behind.
Home is not a place. It’s a feeling
The crazy-insane-making messages you received while living as a witness probably make it hard and somewhat scary to figure out exactly where you fit into this world. Many X-witnesses struggle with adjusting to the secular world. They share feelings of alienation and feel like misfits. They are unconnected, isolated. Until they find support, and then they realize there are millions just like them, and so begins, and sometimes ends, their journey to Self.
A major step to feeling comfortable and safe will involve stepping outside of your trauma in order to have ‘new’ experiences, in order to, gain some understanding and acceptance of your new world and the new you. (more on this in future articles)
You have been manipulated into believing negative judgments against the world, yourself, and humans in general. There will be times when you have feelings of fear or awkwardness that support the erroneous belief that you just do not fit in anywhere. Some of these are natural feelings for someone greatly influenced by an abusive religion or ideology. Other feeling such as; prolonged anger, apathy, isolation, suicidal ideation and indifference, need to be professionally addressed before they become serious issues for you. Take my word for it.
The point is: You are now free to begin resolving ‘all’ of those erroneous feelings, doubts and beliefs.
Let’s Start With Beauty
One of the most important—and most neglected—elements in the beginnings of developing the interior life with Self is the ability to respond to reality. To clearly see the value and beauty in ordinary things. To come alive to the splendor that is all around us
We miss so much of the beauty that emanates from the people, places and things around us. We just don’t see it. Looking for and enjoying beauty is a way to nourish the soul. The universe, fortunately, has the habit of creating beauty. Take a moment and notice the flowers growing along a mountain trail. All over the world, we have songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between friends, the satisfaction of a job well done, the smell of fresh baked bread. Beauty is everywhere. To perceive the world in this fashion and to walk this path is to acknowledge the goodness of the world.
As the English novelist D.H. Lawrence said, “The human soul needs beauty even more than it needs bread.” In many cultures, this need for beauty is honored in rituals and arts. The Japanese reverence this virtue in the tea ceremony, flower arrangements, calligraphy and other activities. The Balinese have found a way to integrate beauty into everyday life where it belongs. Through their yoga exercises, writings, rich spiritual lives and hospitality. Every aspect of their inner and outer world has a deep reverence for beauty.
Beauty in all it forms should be encouraged in our homes and celebrated. Drink deep of the shining and ephemeral moments in life that surround you. Drink deeply of the beauty, which nourishes your soul. Then you will never have to utter the lamenting words of the third-century religious philosopher St. Augustine at the close of your life: “Too late have I loved you O Beauty, so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you!”