by Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D., MFCC
It does not matter what age you are or whatever situation you find yourself in, you, like most other people, need to be valued and value other people. If you have the capacity to value your self and other people, then you possess a very powerful and effective emotional skill. To value your self and someone else provides emotional fuel and nurturance that enhances one's very being and essence. Children, who grow up in families where the caretakers provide enormous amounts of emotional love and attention, value themselves and, in turn, value others.
Most individuals have a need to be admired, respected and looked up to, by others. These people need others to see them as important, highly competent, gifted and very powerful. Consequently, they do many things in order to impress others with their intelligence, competence and extraordinary gifts. Sometimes, this need to impress others goes beyond the fantasy stage. In that case, the person may fabricate stories, lie or exaggerate behavior and emotions in order to secure a high status position in someone else's mind. In a society that stresses competence and achievement, this need to be valued can reach extensive proportions. The reward is great for the person who can impress his/her's outstanding accomplishments, influence and skills into the minds of the intended audience. Valued qualities that are real, in many cases, need to be made recognizable to other people. But, fabricated qualities, skills and influence will subsequently be seen for what they are: fabrications, charades and misinformation.
It is important to not be taken in by false claims of valued skills, qualities and accomplishments. Natural gifts, such as above average physical beauty and attractiveness, impress people. Bragging doesn't worked Natural physical attributes may be highly valued by some individuals even to the extent of overlooking detrimental emotional deficits. On some occasions, social and emotional deficits may run contrary to a person's need to impress and be seen as special. The need to be seen as an important person may actually create the opposite effect. If one tries too hard to make a great impression, they may actually create a poor picture of themselves in someone else's mind.
How many times has someone else created a great picture of himself or herself in your mind, only to be later seen by you as someone you cannot stand? How does this happen? The person looked and sounded so great at the beginning of your relationship, only to be devalued by you at a later date. What happened in between the two extremes? What about that person or persons who initially saw you as very attractive in so many ways, only to see you as being undesirable later on?
There are those magical relationships where the participants never cease to be amazed and impressed by the qualities and traits of each other. These are like marriages made in heaven. The husband continues to astound his spouse with his compassion, commitment, sensitivity and affection. She, in turn, astounds him with her diligence, grace, good looks and common sense. They nurture each other and build up huge love points in each other's love account. They constantly discover new and exciting things about each other and each day their love reservoirs fill to overflowing. How do they do it? By improving themselves in so many different areas, they successfully manage to impress each other and build up value for each other, in one another's minds.
By improving one's emotional and social skills, a relationship remains vital, because each person is continually making a good impression in the other's mind. The love account grows, while deficits fall away. Now, let's move to a different category of being valued!
People have some kind of propensity within themselves to make some kind of contribution. Contributors see themselves and they want others to see them as making some kind of valuable contribution; whether to a relationship, endeavor or to the world in general. These people are usually motivated by altruistic emotional qualities. To put it in a need category, we could say that these people need to be contributors rather than detractors or devaluators. In emotional and social relationships, these individuals are buyers and owners. They do what is necessary and are willing to invest the energy and time to make their relationships and their contributions permanent. They are consistent in their capacity to give emotionally, fueled by their supportive and nurturing qualities. They see themselves as capable of giving and receiving in reciprocal, democratic relationships. Because they value contribution and are willing to invest their emotional energies into building and sustaining creative works and nurturing relationships, we can assume that they have considerable access to the fourth, heart chakra. They are heart/mind integrated people.
On the other hand, there are those people who have been so traumatized and deprived in childhood, that they are stuck in the lower first, second and third chakras. They do not necessarily value themselves enough, in order to want to make contributions to vital relationships. They are usually takers, freeloaders and renters in their approach to life and relationships. They may be hampered by certain emotional, mental and personality disorders. They don't care enough to give what is necessary to succeed in life. They may have a difficult time keeping a job, building and sustaining relationships and expressing real feeling and affection. Their nervous system may be dominated by neurological deficits that can create psychosis, panic attacks, anxiety, mood and personality disorders.
In many cases, these people are locked into the sub dominant right brain hemisphere (that is, if a person is right-handed or right footed). This statement is based on evidence that in right-handed people, the right hemisphere seems to be central to negative feelings; while positive, optimistic feelings locate in the left hemisphere. This suggests that those who value making contributions draw upon energies fueled by the left hemisphere and the limbic system, backed up by well functioning, minimally blocked and integrated full brain neural transmission systems. Drevets and Damasio, emotion researchers have demonstrated that the right hemisphere is specialized for the experience of negative emotions only, while left hemisphere handles positive feelings. People who suffer from left brain strokes are more likely to be depressed as compared to right brain patients. So, if a person wishes to build up the capacity for valuing their own contributions and the contributions of others, they may actually be modifying the very structure of their brain chemistry and morphology.
An interesting case suggesting that one woman, who spent her life devaluing other people's contributions, experienced a complete personality turnaround by taking Prozac. How can a pill turn a mean, nasty negative detractor into a positive, contributing, supportive and even loving person!? By simply regulating the serotonin levels in her brain, she was able to move from second chakra disorder to fourth chakra empathy contribution. Twenty years of psychotherapy couldn't change her dissonant, sour, doom and gloom temperament. But a chemical intervention rebalanced her hemispheres and made a new woman of her; much to the pleasure of her family members and work colleagues. Prozac contributed to her well-being and she brought more value to herself by making contributions that were valued by others.
Every person has categories of highly valued and undesirable traits. I use the words ' ineffective and undesirable' interchangeably, because undesirable and ineffective traits usually go together. Empathy is a very effective and desirable trait and includes the capacity for putting oneself into the feelings of another person. This quality is exemplified in the trait of being able to actively listen, understand, reflect back and paraphrase the inner experience and thoughts of another person. It requires the ability to explore someone else's perspective, even if you find their position to be at odds with your own. Sometimes, it may even require the capability of recognizing the underlying, unstated feelings of someone else. It is an emotional skill conducive to a reciprocal democratic interchange.
The antithesis of empathy could be self-centered excessive or insufficient communication, talking/conversation. Everyone needs to communicate with someone else. When the communication is excessively one-way, it sets up a rigid system of talker to listener. If the talker is not capable of equal listening skills, then he or she will be ineffective and perhaps undesirable. Excessively passive people, as well as compulsive talkers are usually ineffective in their social and emotional interactions. Such ineffective strategies may create an undesirable negative impression in the mind of another. The use of words conveys many different types of information. Good listeners also have a need to be heard. To function as a sounding board for someone else's excessive or insufficient verbal outputs, also requires that the listener desires to deliver feedback and responses that will be received by the other party. The ideal situation, for effective communication, requires that the participants are capable of adequate output and reception of language interchange.
Two-way, active reciprocal, empathic communication is a valued capability. To be able to listen as well as talk equally is a valued trait. To be deficient in either one, will lead to undesirable results. An over talker, who cannot listen and fully hear, will be trouble. An under talker usually cannot convey what he or she has heard. Consequently, passivity requires prying open by another person an undesirable strategy. No one likes to have to pry information out of a closed down individual. Passive people are in a constant state of self-protection and fear revealing anything about themselves. This pressures other people to resort to interrogation strategies. Because, there is a lack of reciprocal verbal give and take, the interrogator will usually use ineffective strategies of anger and silent rejection. Passivity and random inconsequential over talking are ineffective and undesirable strategies.
Freely volunteering personal information is effective and desirable. Volunteering too much information is overloading and freeloading. One has to gauge the other person's capacity for receiving quantities of information. One also has to gauge whether the other person really wants to listen to what one wants to convey. If someone wants information and has to ask too many questions, then the strategy is ineffective and lopsided. Having to ask questions reaches a peak of frustration tolerance. Too much interrogation can be undesirable to both the interrogator and the passive person. Giving out too much information may overload the receiver and create the undesirable response of withdrawal.
Complaining and blaming are undesirable and ineffective strategies. Desirable and effective traits include effective problem solving and accepting personal responsibility for one's own thoughts and feelings. Constant complaining merely perpetuates problems and reinforces negative feelings and inflexible social systems. Organizing the appropriate people into brainstorming problem solving sessions can neutralize complaining. Complaining is always easier because it creates a chronic, familiar homeostasis. People who are problem solving oriented are constantly capable of moving out and through inevitable problem situations. The participants are usually willing to sit down and communicate with each other in order to explore and find mutually satisfying solutions. Complainers and blamers have a difficult time tapping into the creative parts of their intellect. Blamers usually do not recognize their own isolation and separation from other people. The propensity to blame puts them in a position of distance and rejection. Of course, they are capable of justifying and rationalizing their position in life, since their plight is seen as caused by other people.
The antidote to blaming is based on dropping the accusatory "you" statement and adopting the self-responsible "I" position. The accusatory quality of blaming through "you" statements is based on fear and anxiety. The accuser is afraid of being vulnerable to abandonment and rejection and feels compelled to activate neuronal self-protection strategies. The threat is real or perceived to be real and the accuser resorts to blaming in order to neutralize loss. The accused individual is perceived to be capable of injury, lack of support and protection. The "you" statement is an ineffective strategy aimed at getting the blamed person to restore protection and valuable emotional nutrients. Accusation is usually a strategy that states one has failed to provide security and protection of the love reservoir.
Blaming is an ineffective strategy because it singles out another person for being responsible for inflicting pain. No one usually likes to be accused of injuring someone. So the accused usually adopts defensive reactions in order to maintain ego integrity and a positive self-image. The first order of defense is typical denial followed by argumentation and dueling interpretations. The risk here is that the participants may inaugurate the ineffective strategy of argumentation into their non-empathic verbal interchanges. Such a cycle can actually escalate into irreconcilable differences, abuse and even violence. Fighting, as a strategy, usually doesn't work! If people adopt a strategy that substitutes constructive conversation for argumentation, then they have established effective, highly valued traits.
In my own opinion, complaining and blaming is natural for many individuals and may reflect lower-level skills available to children and adolescents. Provocation, complaining, blaming and argumentativeness may persist into young adulthood and even further. Many people, as they grow older, may recognize that such strategies do not work. It is at that point of realization, that they may wish to learn and adopt more effective, alternative strategies. In most cases, people do not learn from role modeling. Didactic teaching may be a more effective tool for learning highly valued traits and strategies. If that is true, then small children and adolescents may be able to learn highly valued strategies and traits, before they run into trouble later in life. Unfortunately, our educational system does not include such an orientation in their teaching curriculum.
Some people do not learn from their mistakes. They, sometimes, keep applying the same old ineffective, low valued traits and strategies hoping to get a different outcome. The result is usually disastrous. Experience can be a great teacher if that experience is exhaustively examined for nuggets of truth and change. The question arises as to how one examines their own experience for highly valued traits and their opposites. Curiosity is the highly valued trait that leads one to transformative self-examination. You cannot correct an undesirable trait if you do not recognize it as such. You also cannot substitute a more highly valued characteristic if you are not aware that one exists. One who destructively uses low valued provocation as an interpersonal weapon may not see it in a destructive light. So, how could they eradicate low valued provocation and substitute something more effective for it!? They could discuss the problem with the people that provocation impacts and get highly valuable feedback. They could also brainstorm mutually satisfying solutions.
Undesirable, ineffective traits and strategies usually destroy and deplete love accounts, trust banks, affection reservoirs and relationship gardens. Committing oneself to becoming an expert on satisfying and recognizing another person's most important emotional needs, will promote and foster one's capacity for installing high-value traits and eliminating undesirable qualities. By committing oneself to such endeavor, will increase one's effectiveness when dealing with all situations and different types of people. Most people have similar emotional needs even if they are arranged in different hierarchical order and priority. Even the most hardened psychopath and other deviants have a need for affection, validation and recognition, even if they try to satisfy those needs destructively.
This raises the issue of the highly valuable and desirable trait and strategy of ethicality. The absence of highly valued ethical traits usually announces the lack of humanistic, empathic fourth chakra feelings. If a person does not care about the feelings of other human beings, he devalues them and brutally persecutes them, even if only in his mind. The selfish mind is stuck in lower order consciousness. The ego functions in an early stage of development, somewhere between the first and third chakra. It is only when one has formed and developed a self-integrated ego that one can progress to selflessness and concern for all creatures and sentient beings. Love for all beings is an expansion of one's consciousness out of the narrow confines of a restricted ego. Universal love has to be arrived at by constant and consistent exploration and expansion of oneself to include all others. It is the birth of compassion and concern for all life, not just one's narrow group.
One most consider the highly valued state of Christ consciousness. He was born, raised and died as a Jew. But he personified and expressed his faith and himself in the highest form of universal consciousness. His Judaism reached a peak when he was able to extend his Father's love to all people, creatures and things. He opened himself to receive all who came in need while offering love and healing. His salvation was immersed and nurtured in forgiveness and transcendence. He offered heaven and acceptance to all who hungered, thirsted and craved for God. He neglected nor overlooked anyone and provided a gateway to Paradise. He opened the door to the throne of God.
In every aspect of life there are the elements of winning and losing. When one strives to accomplish something, there is usually a very high value attached to the achievement of some goal. When one becomes highly motivated and works very hard to achieve a highly valued goal, he or she is subconsciously seeking to win a valued prize; whether it is a trophy, a prestigious position or even a certain amount of money. This motivating factor is clearly demonstrated in the activity of sports. Athletes and their coaches invest enormous amounts of highly valued energy in activities that have the goal of winning. In the world of the third chakra, competition for achieving highly valued goals is a fact of life. Adolescents, who are approaching young adulthood, expend large amounts of motivated energy into acquiring specific skills that lead to one destination: winning.
One has only to look at the efforts of adolescents and young adults to achieve mastery in physical prowess, beauty, personality assets, high peer group position, academic and athletic talents. Parents also expend considerable motivating efforts aimed at increasing highly valued emotional, social, intellectual and financial skills in their offspring. In other words, most people possess the evolutionary drive to succeed and win. Our nervous system is wired to euphoric feelings whenever there is a personal and/or a collective victory. Conversely, we are also aware of the vast arena of negative feelings that are attached to any form of losing.
There are many activities that may be considered to be noble enterprises. People who excel in these noble enterprises are usually considered part of the valued elite. When motivation begins to flag due to negative circumstances, efforts diminish and one jeopardizes their high position in the valued elite. Noble enterprises clearly delineate who the winners are and how one goes about achieving an elite position in the noble enterprise. If one does not adhere to the rules of achieving the winning position, they naturally begin to slide into the lower status losing position. It is not enough to stress the reality of adhering to the rules of winning. If these rules are not understood and followed, the outcome is inevitable loss.
One only has to look at certain scandals by the super elite of business, personal life and sports who deviate from following the rules. The descent down the ladder of success is usually quicker and easier than ascent up that same ladder. The culprit in such matters is usually the loss of motivation and the shifting of priorities when a person faces daunting challenges. To lose heart, fueled by motivation, has led to the downfall of many members of the valued elite. The consequence of such a situation is to be suspended or separated from the noble enterprise. The truth resides in the fact that there are many aspiring candidates who seek to gain highly valued positions in the noble enterprise. The winners are the ones who keep their sights firmly fixed on achieving their winning goals. Lack of persistence, distraction and discouragement has caused many a potential winner from realizing valuable winning goals. Persistence has created more winners; while discouragement and distraction remains the bane of accomplishment.