Fear of Consequence | How Punishment breeds Irresponsibility (and what to do instead!)

I was watching a Black Mirror episode, namely episode 3 from season 4 where a woman’s past comes back to haunt her after an insurance investigator starts looking into an incident and has special technology that allows her to peak into people’s memories to get more ‘accurate’ witness reports. In the beginning of the episode the main character was complicit in covering up a hit-and-run. She goes on to live her life and become quite successful in a business until this event comes catching up with her. It soon becomes pretty obvious that she’s going to get caught for what happened many years ago and that her life as she knew it was going to be over.

I haven’t finished the episode yet, because I was experiencing myself as increasingly squeamish at the prospect that she was going to get caught, that moment where everything comes to light and she has to face the consequences of her actions. I looked into the point, and decided that before I can continue watching the episode (and the rest of the season lol) I should write a blog about it. Entertainment in the form of movies and series so easily provide us points to reflect and investigate ourselves, I didn’t just want to keep watching and let this opportunity pass by to share how we can introspect, investigate, evaluate and correct ourselves in something as mundane as watching an episode of a series.

If people are good only because theyFEAR

As I folded my laptop closed when I made the decision to stop watching the episode, I looked at my experience and what else it reminded me of. I saw that I had had this experience before when watching the series Dexter. Where you go into this conflictual experience of on the one hand liking Dexter, and on the other hand judge him because, well, he’s a serial killer – but then when it comes down to it and things get tense – don’t want him to get caught.

It also reminded me of a dream I had, of which the theme I believe repeated itself a few times in my life. I enter the dream and it’s already in full action, meaning, there’s no ‘story build up’ – like you start watching a movie halfway into the duration of it. In the dream I was busy looking for someone along with another group of people, when the knowledge hit that I had killed the person and that the authorities were also looking for the culprit. I remember not being phased at all by the piece of information that “I had done it”, the only thing I was wrought up about was that I may get caught and set course to run away and hide.

Another memory that came up was of me sitting in music class in my first year of high school, where for some reason we were discussing the topic of the sun when my teacher mentioned that the sun will burn out at some point and then that will be the end of Life on Earth, but that this would only happen a long time from now. I remember thinking ‘Well as long as I’m not there when it goes down, then I don’t care’ – with pictures from the Armageddon movie flashing by and being terrified at the prospect of having to face such a situation. I felt icky inside myself because I also knew that a lot of people now on Earth live a disastrous life that I am unwilling to live and I quickly buried up the thought and the feelings that came with it. But for some reason that one moments thinking has always stuck with me (what you resist will persist hey).

What this episode and the associations as the memories brought up for me is that I still have a very deep fear of consequence and wanting to avoid consequence. That I don’t give much consideration to what I do, but only the possible negative consequence which may or may not befall on me. This leads me to make decisions and work with consideration where I look at how things will make me feel, rather than understanding what I do and whether it is the best possible outcome. In simpler terms it leads to making compromising decisions which give me a sense of reward or forgoing doing what’s right to avoid experiencing someone’s backlash. It’s not about content but about how things make me feeling or how I anticipate they will make me feel.

This led me to look more at my experiences as a child, where faux pas were often met with aggressive, emotional punishment.

What I realised in looking at my childhood memories, is that I had stored punishment and consequence to be part of the same database. In that, as a child – I didn’t differentiate between natural consequence, initiated consequence and punishment.

First image

In the image above, you can see how all three were bundled up together in the same box, with the colours representing a fear energy within which the container as the words and their definitions were drenched in. (To be honest, the box really just held consequence and punishment, as I hadn’t even specified or verbalised for myself that there are distinction!)  I’ll explain later what each of them entails individually.

As a kid for instance, I loved exploring our computer, which was a family computer. There was only one PC which we shared amongst the five us. And well, during those explorations sometimes things would go wrong with the computer. My father, who was really into the computer to play games would always get angry whenever a dreaded error screen appeared or the computer wouldn’t start. I’d get shouted at for breaking the computer, until I felt broken inside myself and would go hide in my room trying to avoid my father for the next couple of days. Swearing to myself that I’d never touch the computer again because it was just not worth all of the shouting, yelling and feeling like a little shit. I had no idea how I ‘messed up’ the computer or why exactly my father was getting angry (other than the basic assumption that computers cost money). A few days would go by and would get back behind the computer, making sure I do it when my father is not yet home. Eventually the cycle would just repeat itself.

The natural consequence here, was that playing around with something you don’t fully understand (and don’t ask for help / guidance), you might make mistakes and possibly create damage.

Because my father’s response was one of diminishing me into submission through fear \ to have a fast, quick outcome/result in keeping me away from the computer (and so hopefully prevent the computer from going haywire) – all I learnt from that one event is to avoid my father whom I feared.

I didn’t learn a thing about pcs, and my father never did get to avoid the computer from messing up from time to time.

It’s a lose-lose situation. That’s punishment.

Punishment is about making another feel bad and diminishing them on a level of ‘who they are’ – with no consideration of ‘what they did’. It’s like saying ‘all of you is bad’, instead of addressing the one behaviour which was not constructive. It’s convenient, because it gives a quick result – and gives an opportunity for the punisher to let out pent up frustration and anger. But nothing about the actual situation is learnt. The one being punished then adopts secretive behaviour to continue, with no accountability or responsibility being developed.

Because there was both natural consequence and punishment in the same event, the two became fused for myself. That the one implies the other.

From there things started escalating. I’d be staying at a friend’s house and accidentally break something. The thought of telling someone wouldn’t even come up as option. My first instinct was how to hide it as best as possible and pretend nothing happened. I couldn’t have predicted how my friends or their parents would have responded. Maybe they would have been totally cool with it, maybe not. The one time an accident happened with eyes around when at a friend. The mother told me to be more careful with how I am playing as I was not paying attention to my environment, and started moving breakables out of my reach until she was sure I was paying more attention.

Even though the mother was totally calm, composed, explained to me my actions and what they were creating and took further measures to prevent it from happening – I felt punished. I felt punished that she moved all the breakables away, and accessed the same hurtful feelings as when my father would punish me. That I wasn’t to be trusted, that I was inadequate.

This example, is actually one of natural consequence and initiated consequence. The natural consequence was that ‘when I don’t pay attention to my surroundings when I play because I am so caught up in the energy of the game, I may possibly break things around me in my unawareness’. The initiated consequence was ‘breakables are being moved away until I’ve shown that I can play with more awareness and do not pose a threat to breakables in my direct surroundings’.

The lines between consequence and punishment were so blurred for me that I couldn’t distinguish the one from the other. My response was always the same. If I saw a parent initiating consequence with a child which was totally supportive, I’d still feel sad and project unto the child my own experience of how I felt when being punished, assuming the child was going through the same and condemning the parent for their ‘abusive behaviour’.

What supported me in my own process to detangle my past experiences and memories of punishment and consequence, was to clearly indicate to myself the different types of ‘consequence’/’punishment’ that exist. This assisted me to see where in the past a situation was directed less than optimally by others in my environment, as well as where I missed points of responsibility that could have changed the course of such situations and possible repetitions.

The latter being the toughest part. When you’ve gone through trauma, it’s easy to become accustomed to a sense of victimhood where everything was always the fault of another, and we were just innocent players. When someone treats you unacceptably and you scrunch into a corner and just take it – it’s hard to admit that there was a moment where you could have gathered yourself up again and say ‘Stop’. As a child, we’re not always aware of our alternatives when the alternatives have not been presented to us through the living example of others such as our parents. So when I place myself in those moments of childhood, I give myself a little grace – knowing that, at that point in time, I didn’t know much better. At the same time, I acknowledge I am older, have gone through more experiences and am able to set up a different response for myself. The grace that counted for myself as a child, no longer applies in my current situation. I’m in a more empowered space, and I am going to use that more empowered space to go back into my childhood and see how I could have done things differently. Not because we should have done it differently, or even had the potential to do it differently. But to go back to the source of our wound, the pain, the hurt – face that moment again and rise above it. Even if we can’t re-write the past, we blow a new perspective into it. So that instead of repeating the hurt and carrying the emotional wounds into our current life situation, what we carry through from the memory is what we have learnt, and the solutions we now know we can apply.

In the case of the memory with the repeated computer incidents for instance, I realised that I could have asked for help from others or even just gotten myself a book on how to work with computers. But because of how I experienced my father’s outrageous response, I felt compelled to blame the whole situation on him, that he was too irrational and punitive about it. The size of his emotional outburst took up so much space in the events, that I didn’t see anything other than *that* playing out. I didn’t see or look for any alternatives, and never took a moment to look at how I could do things differently. In the face of the vast punishment, the space and moment to reflect on myself and my responsibility in the given situation was completely minimized. Hence, I didn’t change my behaviour (only when I did it) and the pattern persisted.

So for myself, I clarified my relationship to natural consequence, initiated consequence and punishment through redefining the words – as well as removing any emotional connotations or loads connected to it, so that each word/point can stand on its own.

  • Natural consequence: the if this then that effect, the result/outflow of an action

For example, if I am late at the train station, I miss the train

  • Initiated consequence: a set of imposed conditions to prevent certain damages or harm from comping to pass

For example, my toddler is still specifying his motoric skills and broke a drinking glass, for the time being he will only be provided with plastic cups and plates and we will re-assess in time

  • Punishment: the intention and act of making another person feel bad about themselves to refrain them from repeating perceived undesirable behaviour and to elevate oneself into a position of being in control. On an elemental level, punishment is an act of retribution. You made me feel powerless, now it’s your turn.

For example, my child is running rampant and keeps waking up the baby, I feel at a loss and desperation rises. I take him aside and give him a good shouting after which he isolates himself in his room

The moment we redefine and so clarify a word/manifestation for ourselves, it’s also easier to establish our own directive response to such situations. When we’re confronted with someone who’s out to punish us, we can immediately move ourselves to share that we see our own responsibility in the situation (if any), saying we understand that they’re upset, where they are coming from and to immediately steer the conversation towards constructive solutions. If we however keep ourselves to the wound and not the lesson of a memory, we will let the other person exert their anger and frustration on us, while we feel smaller and more resentful towards the other. We keep ourselves small and disempowered and equally disempower the other party through simply letting their past hurts play out through letting them vent their anger and frustration out. When we move out of our disempowerment position into our directive power, we change the variables and relationship dynamics in any given situation. As we change who we are and how we respond, it forces the other party to reconsider their own position, because things are not playing out according to their expectations.

As a parent who’s been left with a bad taste surrounding ‘consequence’ and ‘punishment’ as a child, it can be tricky to assess as to when to not engage, where you leave a situation or behaviour to natural consequence; when to initiate consequence – and to when you do, to not trap yourself in punitive consequence. (Sometimes, we also need to employ measures that may look like punishing (like shouting) – and may feel bad or guilty afterwards for thinking that we’re damaging our child and that they will hate our guts forever more. While shouting and raising your voice is mostly abused in the sense that it’s an easy way to exert frustration, anger and irritation – the physical act of shouting, where there’s no emotional load or intention behind it can be very helpful and effective in certain circumstances. If your child is about to do something dangerous, using your voice as a sound wave to pop them out of a ‘trance’ where they don’t realize what they are about to do is dangerous, is effective to literally ‘shake’ them out of it for a moment, until you can get closer to direct the situation. Whenever I use my voice strongly, I make sure I can in the next moment be equally gentle and soft, moving from one expression to another with ease. If I get stuck in my voice being raised, I know I accessed some emotional energies and need to have a closer look at what is being undealt in my own interior life.)

In general, I work with a few guidelines to establish how to proceed:

  • Who is being affected by the behaviour?

If my son’s behaviour only affects his reality and he is not placing himself in any form of harm or danger, I leave it up to natural consequence.

If he’s going a bit cray cray and keeps breaking his lego construction because he’s not paying attention, then it’s for him to learn how his behaviour affects his reality and how he can change his behaviour. I might give a suggestion here and there, but I leave it up to him how he moves forward with it.

If he’s going cray cray and he somehow picked up an object he could harm himself with or plays in a way that could easily warrant a doctor’s visit if things go wrong, then I initiate consequence (eg insisting he calms down before he can continue playing and if not removing whatever may cause an issue).

If he however keeps breaking his toys and keeps coming to me to fix it, his behaviour is now affecting my reality and within that gives me space to initiate consequence or parameters if I find that it is really getting in the way. I can fix his toy once or twice, explain that he needs to be more aware and slow down, possibly show him how he can fix it himself if its within his skillset, and warn that I will not keep fixing it.

  • If I initiate consequence, is it relevant to the situation and have I done my best to transfer understanding through communication?

If my son is being loud and others can’t have an audible conversation amongst themselves, there’s no point to tell him he won’t get chocolates today. There’s no natural or causal relationship between being loud and the access to chocolates. Rather, I will ask him to be more quiet, explain to him why I ask it of him, and ask him to place himself in the other people’s shoes (“imagine you are trying to tell me something but someone keeps shouting and you can’t share with me what you want to say, is that something you’d like to experience / be in?”). I’ll also explain that there’s no issue with being loud and expressive in itself, but that we have to be aware of the context we find ourselves. If he really wants to sing loudly or play train, he can also do it in his room.

I do my best to keep the conversation around the behaviour and to not make it personal to him. To clearly state the consequence I will initiate and to not nag about (keep warning but not following through with it). I keep my voice tonality, my choice of words and body language in mind. When there’s space for it, I ask him how he proposes we direct the situation.

I have definitely not perfected this for myself, as my experience with watching the Black Mirror show nicely reminded me of. Old patterns from childhood are like rivers whom have embedded themselves into the earth into a set path. It’s difficult to redirect the flow of water when there’s already a certain direction it is used to following. Every time we practice our new direction and new response, it’s like we’re digging a bit, starting a new trench at the source for the river to take on a new course. The more we practice, the more it entrenches and embeds within our being. Until one day the river effortlessly flows in our new direction we diligently practiced and planted.



Fairness is the New Entitlement

I was playing around with the word Fair or Fairness the other day as it’s a point that very easily sneaks up its head. Especially if you’re someone who’s more rationally, logically inclined – it’s so easy to come up with arguments and point at all the x,y, z variables in your reality or environment that are ‘out of place’ as to why things are difficult for you and why you have the right to be frustrated and have somewhat of an inner tantrum.

If we have an honest look at the world around us, we quickly realise that there’s nothing fair about it. More than 3 billion people live in poverty. One in nine people are stuck in starvation. Animals are going through extinction, nature’s being raped faster than we can regenerate her. You could pretty much say that life on Earth is a bubble of unfairness. Nothing’s the way it should be. But we’re not spending all our time and energy moaning and complaining about that. No, we throw a tantrum when someone else got a job we wanted. THEN we get upset. When we feel like our partner is not carrying his or her weight in terms of responsibilities around the house. THEN we get pissed off.

While the truth is, that nothing is fair about the world we live in. Absolutely nothing. It’s a ginormous mess. Taking that into consideration, it’s really rather peculiar how selective we are about what we complain about and where we use ‘fairness’ as an excuse and justification to vent out our own personal frustrations. Now, I’m not saying we should start to complain about every single little thing that’s wrong in our world. Or to ‘equalize’ our complaining so we complain a bit about everything lol.

But insisting that things should be fair in our little world, when obviously our little problems are the result of much greater discrepancies in the world we live is like focusing on a light that’s not working in our car rather than looking deeper and having a look at what the actual problem is. Fixing the light so it’s permanently on doesn’t mean our car is fixed.

When we enter a state of fairness, I’ve found that we’re essentially fighting ourselves, our own personal nature and reality. The world we live in and the structures governing it today, are a reflection of our inner realities. As within so without. And you might say, well you know what, I had nothing to do with that. It’s the people who came before me, it’s things that happened before my time – I had no part in this!

But when we are completely honest with ourselves, we’ll find that much of what we condemn and judge in the world as bad and undesirable, we are living out ourselves in our everyday life. We may not be a big bank involves in massive fraud, or a corrupt government institution. But perhaps we are constantly looking out for bargains in shops. Really picky about spending our money. Buying things for less when we actually do have the money to pay a decent price for a product or service. Leading to people being paid lower and lower wages just to be able to remain active in the market. You may say, well, now you’re just blowing things out of proportion. These things are happening on two different scales! And yes, sure they are happening on different scales. But the underlying principles, the underlying pattern within both is the same: How can I have more money for myself regardless of what it does to anyone else? The desire and fear that fuels this patterns is the same for the person who’s doing it on a big scale as the person doing it in a micro scale. I bet each can justify their ends just as well as the other, regardless of the scale!

Perhaps the governmental agents feel entitled to power moves because they find the public to be too uneducated to take part in decision making, rather going behind its back. Because it’s ‘unfair that they would have to deal with such people who are inadequate to make thoughtful decisions’. Similarly, you might find it unfair that you have to spend your hard earned money, you are entitled to keep it and so will try to spend as little as possible – even though others worked just as hard to produce what you’re buying.

Fairness only breeds more fairness. Looking at it this way, we could actually say that we use what is supposed to be a noble cause, as fairness and equity, as a channel to pursue, validate and push forward our own private and self-interested sense of entitlement.

_Blame_ and _Deserve_

For instance, when my husband is around, I have the hidden expectation that he will help out more with say household points and spending time with our son. And when that expectation doesn’t get fulfilled, it’s all anger and fury inside myself, because it’s “so unfair”. The crux in this type of situation for myself, I found is not so much that I want him to help out, but that I believe I deserve more ‘off time’ and ‘me time’, where I believe and perceive myself to be missing out because theoretically, he could be providing me with that. And that I’m entitled to it. He still helps out here and there and on a practical level things are easier, yet on those days where’s he’s more around I find myself enjoying myself less and overall having a less pleasurable time because of the inner friction I find myself within. On days that he is not around and so know not to bring in my expectations, I may be busy all day without much time for myself but I am enjoying myself and satisfied because I know I am doing all I can. There’s no ‘what if’, there’s no choice to constantly reflect on, there’s no ‘greener grass’ to obsess about. It’s about what can I do. And how far can I push myself. My eyes are not locked and fixated on what others are doing and if they’re pushing themselves to their utmost. How am I supposed to ascertain that anyway? I only know myself, my reality, my capacity, my context. That’s why the principle of Self-Honesty is of utmost importance. To slack and do less than what you’re capable of simply because you perceive or believe others are not doing the same, and you don’t want to be seen as a loser. Is just plain self-sabotage. People come and go. The person you have to live with and stick with for the rest of your life, well is YOU. You need to be satisfied with yourself regardless of what anyone else is or isn’t doing.

By constantly focusing on our external reality and what COULD be, we miss out on who we could be and actively engaging our potential.

When I was playing around with the sound of the word Fairness, and Fair – I identified the sound ‘fare’. A fare, being typically a fee you pay for transport or the like as part of a journey you are on. When I take that concept back to myself, I see that I employ fairness much in the same way. Say, I will do the dishes, clean the room, tend to our son – not as a point of expression coming from me. Doing it, but doing it with much drag and resistance. These things then become ‘hard work’ and require ‘effort’. The ‘hard work’ and ‘effort’ then become the ‘fare’ I pay as the price of my journey to achieving the definition of a good mother and wife.

When we work hard for a job promotion or just looking for some acknowledgement but someone else gets it, we’re mad because – we paid our ‘fare’, we worked hard. And now this other person is getting away with it? But he/she didn’t pay his or her fare!!!

Fairness then becomes a means to want to equalize our suffering. Instead of supporting and empowering one another unconditionally, we only care to check that the chains holding everyone back are ‘just as tight’ and ‘just as long’.  Because we paid our fare, it’s only fair that we are entitled to x, y, z. We engage fairness as a fare we pay on our journey to achieve a certain self-definition or idea about ourselves. And if that idea or self-definition doesn’t manifest or gets proven wrong, everyone around you better hide.

By removing the concept of fairness, we’re placing ourselves in a position of absolute responsibility. It’s not about anyone else but ourselves. When we still employ fairness, we can forevermore point at our environment and the people within it as reasons why we’re unsatisfied and unhappy. Instead of seeing the things in our reality as challenges to better ourselves, we see them as obstacles there to make us miserable. When your boss yells at you and you feel awful for the next three days, it feels so justified and rational to say that you should set more boundaries. That he should not be acting that way. That you shouldn’t have to deal with people like that and shouldn’t experience yourself that way. But in a world permeated with unfairness, that doesn’t get you very far. You can keep on experiencing everything in your reality as a setback, or move yourself to make the best of any given situation despite what you’re being handed. We’ve screwed up this world beyond measure, and for each one of us it’s going to take more than our ‘fair share’ to set things right again. If we’re going to limit ourselves to what each person feels is right to them, or finds justifiable – we’re never going to create a better life on Earth for ourselves and the future generations to come. And while it feels like the most irrational thing to do, the most counter intuitive move to make – when we remove fairness from our lives and actually push ourselves to the potential we each have within us, you enter a state of liberation you would have never thought existing if you’d kept to fairness.

To place this all in a more practical, day to day context, an example:

A Day With Fairness

I wake up in the morning and want to get ready for making breakfast. My son wakes up and seems to be uncomfortable. I see the possibility for a quiet breakfast on my own disappear before my eyes and let out a deep sigh. This is so unfair. My whole body feels heavy and I grudgingly go to the bed to help him get started with his day. I’m still upset about not getting breakfast my way and this makes me short towards my son who grows increasingly frustrated at my unhelpfulness. In turn, I get irritated by my son, why can’t he just cooperate? I start with breakfast but my son is now whining about every little thing that is going wrong, and I start to now really lose my patience. In my head I am backchatting about all the things that are wrong in my life that I don’t notice that the eggs start to burn in the pan. Of course they’re burning. Everything just goes wrong for me. I dish up breakfast and my son complains he doesn’t want to eat the eggs cause they are burnt. I lash out and say FINE, THEN DON’T EAT ANYTHING!!! …

A day without Fairness

I wake up in the morning and get ready for making breakfast. My son wakes up and seems to be uncomfortable. I go check on him to see why he’s uncomfortable. He says he woke up cold. I give him a big warm hug and we lay together a bit in the bed until he feels better. I suggest that a nice breakfast will get our day nicely started. Since my son is quite settled he plays with his toys a bit on his own while I prepare breakfast. We’re both calm and I can pay attention to the eggs and make them just right. While we eat my son complains he doesn’t like the pepper on the egg. I tell him I didn’t know it would bother him and tell him that next time I will pay special attention to not put pepper on his eggs. He says ‘yes, now you know’. I scrape off the pepper from his egg as best as I can and he continues to eat. …

Our starting point determines everything. If we wake up and start our day with a mindset of everything that is wrong, lacking and unfair –  we weave these ingredients into all the aspects of our day. Our starting point then becomes equal to our end point. Unknowingly we sabotage ourselves and our day to confirm our original start point – that nothing is what it ‘should be’ and that ‘everything’s unfair’. However, when we are open and flexible and aim to make the best of each moment, we come up with responses and solutions that otherwise simply would not have to mind. We so insist that everything can only go wrong we don’t see how we can direct ourselves and our environment into a different direction.

So when you hit yourself into a bout of fairness, where you complain about all the injustices in your world – stop for a moment and take a break. Have a look at whether you’re really upset about the apparent unfairness of the situation, or whether there’s something behind it that you’re trying to achieve or fear losing. Use the moments of fairness to identify where you’re still using a sense of entitlement and you can instead approach the situation in humbleness. What can you take with you from this situation? Is there a point you need to learn here or change a habitual pattern? If you let go of the idea that things should be fair, how would you best direct the situation?

Here’s a video from Gian also on the subject of Fairness and how he realised that holding onto fairness only creates more suffering for all involved:

If you’re new to self-improvement and would like to learn more about how we tend to be our own worst enemies, rather than helpful guides – check out the free online DIP Lite Course

Avoiding the Darkness Within – New Year Review and Resolution with Osho

We have an Osho book in the bathroom, “The Man who Loved Seagulls”. When there’s an extended potty break or bath time, I enjoy reading it a bit. I find that Osho’s books work very well as bathroom books as they often tell little stories, little points, one at a time. You can read it, digest it, walk and test it out for yourself. Next time you come back, you read a little bit more.

The last little story he told, was about a woman looking for a needle out on the street on her hands and knees. People came by asking what she was doing and started helping her. Someone quickly realised it would take ages to scan and search the whole road, and asked her the exact spot where she lost her needle. She said she lost her needle inside the house. That her house is dark, she doesn’t have a lamp. Out on the street there is light and she can see, so she decided to look there. People told her she was mad to be looking for it outside. That she should look inside the house. ‘What a wise response’, she told them. ‘I was just trying out your ways, always seeking and searching, always outside – never inside’.


Photo by Hillie Chan on Unsplash

The little parable shows how we tend to look for things outside, seeking for something. What? We don’t know exactly. Power, love, money, success. And when we have got one we go looking for the next. Because it still doesn’t feel quite right. There’s still something missing. We’re always looking outside, where there is light. We don’t look within where it is dark. We get uncomfortable being with just ourselves.

I did a little experiment in the bath, but really you can do it anywhere anytime if you have even just one minute available. I looked at the tap. And I set myself to look at tap, only the tap and not think. How difficult such a small feat can be! When I wasn’t thinking, I wanted to move my head. Look away. In a way, still think through my eye movement. When I was steadfastly looking at the tap, I could still feel my eyes shifting. Not that my actual eyeballs were shifting, but a movement inside my eyes, forwards, backwards, side to side. As if your eyes are blinking without you’re actually blinking them.  Programs wanting to activate and run. So many programs ready at any given moment. When we have a moment to ourselves, how quickly do we grab our phones to check for any notifications? Start scrolling aimlessly at our mobile feeds? We’re always looking for something, searching for something. It’s like we’re so absolutely scared and terrified of ourselves that we want to keep ourselves way from our interior no matter what.

The Osho story didn’t tell me anything (k)new. I already knew what he shared, but was reminded once a gain of what I know but do not apply consistently and diligently. This past year, I noticed two definitive stress factors for me. One of them reared its head when I had to apply once more for a visa to stay within South Africa, this time to hopefully be able to stay here permanently. The other one is money woes. They work quite well in tandem. I might not be able to stay here, and even if I can stay here – will it remain financially viable? These points are my major ‘looking outside’ points. I really dislike the uncertainty, desiring safety and stability. Though I know deep within me, that even if these two points fall in place – I will find something else to stress out about and seek to ‘secure’. The only secure fact in our existence is that nothing is secure. Everything is always changing. I’m sure we’ve all had those moments. One phone call, one message, one email, one conversation – and suddenly your life is upside down. You know it’s never going to be the same again. The past few years have been rough for me in many different ways. And in the last year I’d say this point solidified itself even more. That no matter what – I can only be secure in who I am. That no matter what is happening in my external reality, in the end what is going to determine everything is me. To constantly be analysing your life and environment as if you’re betting on the stock exchange, constantly looking at all the variables, everything that could go well, everything that could go amiss – so that if we see something move BAM we can be on it. To quickly change the variables so they don’t influence our reality, or at least are minimised. Our eyes, glued out there, fixated on everything and everyone that’s moving around us – whilst being blind to ourselves. So caught up in anxiety, fear and control, that it becomes our default state and completely ‘normal’. As things get rougher and rougher in your life and more unpredictable, you start to see how little ‘control’ – you actually have. That the strings you were pulling, were not actually attached to anything and that all your attempts to orchestrate your life around you were completely futile.

I’ve had a lot of body pains this year, and often when I can’t completely get to the bottom of it or need some assistance I ask LJ to work with my body and read the points. After a while, I would just tell him “let me guess, it’s Fear and Control”. Those were the two points that kept popping up over and over again. We get so stuck in protecting ourselves, who we believe we are, our self definitions – that we can’t even see or conceptualize who we can become. Our definitions, like prison bars, we hold on to them every so tightly to keep them in place.

So for this year, I am ready to leave behind the Fear and Control and step into the darkness, to Self Responsibility and Self Directive Principle (on which there are awesome lessons in SRA4 of the Desteni I Process by the way!) and will share this process on my blog.

Parenting Beyond Polarity – Introduction


When I was young, one of the most dreadful experiences I had was being shouted and yelled at. My father could get really upset, scream, yell and pull the most frightening faces that I would sometimes pee my pants. I absolutely disliked any form of shouting, even a raised voice or loud sounds would send shocks of petrification through my body, even when the situation I found myself in wasn’t meant to be scary. I created an absolute aversion.

There were more traits I really disliked about my father, but for brevity’s sake I won’t mention them all. You could say that his general behaviour and demeanour was that of a dominant type personality.

When I got to the stage of being a ‘grown up’ myself, I would at all cost try to avoid being anything like my father.

Having attached a negative connotation to several of his traits, and judging them extensively had the unfortunate side-effect that I wouldn’t do or behave in a way that would even slightly remind me of him, even when I was in a situation that actually necessitated it. In my head, by mere associations, I would be ‘just as bad’ as him.

The first time my opinion around raising my voice and shouting was challenged was when I moved to the farm where I currently live. The farm I live on is set up for community living, and there’s always other people around and many animals. One day one of the dogs started chasing a chicken that got herself over the fence, when someone stepped out and in a booming voice shouted, “HEY!! STOP IT!!” whilst sternly and authoritatively walking towards the dog.

As usual, I experienced the ever so familiar shock of petrification run through my body. Simply by associating the sounds and body language back to my emotionally-laden memories. Although my rational self understood that the dog was about to at least harm the chicken, I couldn’t help but react and condemn the shouting and stance of the person. I felt bad for the dog, who’d stopped her actions and came running back with her ears slightly lowered, reminding me of my own experience of self-diminishment whenever I got shouted at.

Now that I look back at it, it’s quite astounding to see to what extent being around various different animals on a farm assisted and supported me in opening up my aversion towards what I perceived to be, dominance and other emotional issues I struggled with. How each and every single animal relationships was a stepping stone and learning experience that prepared the way for myself as a parent today. (But that will have to become a series on its own!)

One day the dogs had been restricted to the house because some people who were strangers to the dogs had to get some things done in the garden area. This was causing some frustration for the dogs as they are used to having their space to roam around and being apprehensive of “those people” outside which they didn’t know. The same day some people went to do shopping (who mainly took care of the dogs), which added some restlessness to the dogs’ behaviour. When they got back and reached the gate, the dogs got overrun with excitement. At that time, we had a few small dogs who had past leg issues, and were very protective about their ‘behind’. The bigger dogs were pushing into them to get to the door which they hoped would be opened for them so they could run off and greet their persons. The tension was rising and the smaller dogs started snarling at the bigger dogs, which was a recipe for disaster. There wasn’t much time before it was going to escalate and in one moment I stepped forward and with a loud, low (pitch wise), booming voice told them to stop it.

In a single moment, the tension was discharged between the dogs and created a gap in the tension that was building where I could get in between them to create more space among the dogs and keep them calm.

It was then that I realised that there’s more to ‘shouting’ and ‘yelling’ than I had previously thought. I realised that shouting/yelling, purely from a sound perspective – as with the dogs, sending a sort of ‘shockwave’ through them to snap them out of their particular state – was an effective tool.

There had been no meanness, no anger or desire to diminish them, only the directive to prevent a harmful situation.

Within my past experiences however, the yelling and shouting had always been fuelled strongly with anger, frustration and a certain desire for diminishment to ‘keep me in my place’.

Because of the emotional load that got transferred in each of those moments, I created the belief that any shouting/yelling/raising of one’s voice was irrevocably abusive and damaging. Just the sight and sound of it, I would already make up my mind. I only ever looked at the form/manifestation ( = shouting / yelling / raising voice) and wasn’t able to differentiate what was behind it as the expression/substance (whether emotional or directive). If I was in a state of self-victimization and diminishing myself, someone would raise their voice at me to ‘snap’ me out of my emotional state from a directive starting point, I would within myself still paint it off as being menacing.

More on this topic, in blogs to come

Co-Sleeping and (In)Dependence


This blog is a response that was written for someone asking for perspective on co-sleeping, more specifically whether or not co-sleeping leads to (in)dependence – translated from Dutch.

Personally I have found that it provides a good foundation from which my son can explore the world more independently. When children/babies are very small, they have so many needs – both psychologically and physiologically; where within meeting these needs you in essence create an environment of “you’re welcome here”, “you’re being supported”. Which rests the child assured and nurtures self-trust. Versus the scenario where you are very small and at your all-time most vulnerable phase, not having your needs met with a response – you’re creating an environment which begs the questions “why am I not being supported?”

Where we as parents, are essentially ‘Gods’ that have all the power to meet their needs or not; and when we don’t, the conclusion forming in the child easily becomes “it has to be me, there’s something wrong with me, I am at fault”.

This type of environment or atmosphere breeds distrust in the child. This can later on manifest itself in dependent, insecure behaviour but just as much in ‘confident behaviour’, but where this confidence is more a perversion of actual confidence. In the sense that the inner angst gets balanced out through a big ego, where one utilises superiority to hide/cover up the actual experience of inferiority. From the outside as an observer, the parents are rest assured because from the outside ‘it all looks okay’, but on the inside there’s all kind of things going on which will tend to come out / channelled through in more secretive behaviour.

I don’t see co-sleeping in itself as a guarantee, but more of a ‘symptom’ of a more conscious perspective coming from the parents towards the needs of their child(ren); where sleeping together is only a single aspect of daily life where this kind of conscious awareness is taking place, but where there are so many more moments/aspects in every day life which require conscious awareness in your presence and response as a parent – where if this is not in place in all the other aspects, you can still facilitate dependent behaviour.

On the other hand I have also found that children have a lot more needs than what I was personally aware of before I had my son. I was really baffled that this wasn’t part of my reality and that this was ‘known’. Within this context, it can be quite scary to see this sort of ‘dependent behaviour’, in the sense that it’s easy to think that “Shit, I must be doing something wrong, because this isn’t normal right?” Where it’s not that the child is being ‘extra dependent’, but that we, overtime, have forgotten what it entails to raise a small child and what it takes to really be involved and present in raising your child. Where the dependence is not the say, detrimental kind, but simply a fact of inter-dependence and inter-connectedness.

The child is not at fault here, but our conception of what is considered ‘normal’. What is normal, is to produce a good, obedient working force to keep the machine that is our society running, and in the light of this: personal involvement and presence of parents in tending to children’s needs, is well, inconvenient and cumbersome.

Going against the current of what is considered normal can arouse fears as the bulk of information that’s being produced is to maintain the status quo – not to change it. Our own conditioning, having internalised the outer precepts as our own, is very skilful at stirring doubt and leading ourselves to think that we’re being irrational. That if we persist with x, y, z (fill in whatever your parents, teachers, media etc have presented as the worst case scenario you’ll manifest should you continue with this other path, to strike fear into your heart in the hopes you’ll give up).

It’s not a simple matter, and there are many dimensions that come into play once you start opening it up!

Co-Sleeping en (On)Afhankelijkheid


(***English translation coming soon***)

Deze blog is een response naar iemands vraag toe over co-slapen, en meer specifiek of dit naar (on)afhankelijkheid leidt.

Persoonlijk heb ik ondervonden dat het een goede fundering in plaats zet waaruit mijn zoon meer zelfstandig zichzelf in de wereld kan verkennen. Wanneer kinderen/babies heel klein zijn, hebben ze zoveel behoeftes, physiologisch en psychologisch, dat het ontmoeten van deze behoeftes in essentie een sfeer creëert van “je bent hier welkom”, “je wordt hier ondersteund”; wat het kind gerust stelt en zelf vetrouwen ontwikkelt. Versus als je heel klein bent en het meest kwetsbaar en je behoeftes geen response krijgen, krijg je een sfeer van ‘waarom word ik niet ondersteund?’

Waar de ouders in essentie ‘God’ zijn in dat ze alle macht hebben om die behoeftes te ontmoeten of niet — en als ze dit niet doen, is de conclusie snel “het moet aan mij liggen, er is iets fout met mij, ik doe iets verkeerd”.

Dit soort milieu broedt angst en wantrouwen in het kind. Dit kan kan dan later manifesteren in afhankelijk, onzeker gedrag maar evenzeer in “zelf zeker gedrag”, maar waar het eerder een soort pervertie is van zelfzekerheid. De inner angst wordt uitgebalanceerd met een groot ego, waar men superioriteit gebruikt om een gevoel van inferioriteit te bedekken / verschuilen. Aan de buiten kant zijn ouders dan gerust gesteld want aan de buiten kant ‘ziet het er allemaal oké uit’ , maar binnenin is er heel wat mis en komt dit uit in meer geheimlijk gedrag.

Co-slapen is geen garantie in zichzelf, ik zie het meer als een symptoom van een meer bewust perspectief van de ouders af naar de behoeftes toe van het kind, waar samen slapen enkel 1 aspect is van het dagelijkse leven waar dit soort bewustzijn in gebruik is, maar er zijn zoveel meer moment / aspecten in het leven van een kind dat bewustzijn eisen, en als deze niet in plaats zijn kan je nog steeds afhankelijk gedrag bevorderen.

Aan de andere kant heb ik ook bevonden dat kinderen veel meer behoeftes hebben dan wat ik persoonlijk gewaar van was voordat ik mijn zoon had. En hier , het zien van dit soort ‘afhankelijk’ gedrag kan wat schrikjagend overkomen in de zin dat het makkelijk is om te denken dat ‘shit, ik doe iets mis, dit is niet normaal toch? ‘. Waar het niet echt is dat het kind extra afhankelijk is maar dat wij zelf overtijd hebben vergeten wat het inhoud om een klein kind te zijn en wat dit juist inhoud om als ouder echt betrokken te zijn in het opvoeden van een kind. Waar de afhankelijkheid niet echt een ‘slechte’ afhankelijkheid is maar een feit van inter-depentie en inter-connectedness.

Het kind is hier niet in fout, maar onze conceptie van wat ‘normaal is’. Wat normaal is, is om goede werkertjes te produceren om het machine dat onze maatschappij is continu te laten lopen, en hierin is betrokkenheid en aanwezigheid van ouders in de behoeftes van het kind, wel, ongelegen en lastig.

Tegen in gaan in wat algemeen aanvaard is als ‘nornaal’ kan makkelijk angsten opwekken want het bulk van informatie dat wordt geproduceerd is om de status quo te behouden, niet om het te veranderen. En onze eigen conditionering is hierin heel goed om twijfel in te brengen en te denken dat we niet rationaal zijn, dat x,y,z (vul hier in watook je ouders, onderwijzers, media hebben gezegt als worst case scenario dat je gaat creëeren moest je het in je hoofd krijgen dingen anders te doen om je schrik aan te brengen in de hoop dat je je idee opgeeft).

Het is geen simple matter en er komen heel veel dimensies mee te spelen.

Losing Sight of the Small for the Big

tomato post

A few weeks ago Gian bought some more seedlings to plant as part of the eco-tunnel we are busy setting up and the adjoining areas around it that will also be developed for sustainable food growing. We suddenly got heavy winds, the plastic sheeting from the tunnel blew off, and we got scorching sun and no rain.

The tomato seedling in the picture is one of six that were in a tray outside. They had become frizzled, brown and lost most of their leaves. One day, as we were walking around the tunnel and talking about future plans and all the amazing things we want to create, I saw the tray with the seedlings on the ground. While I was enjoying talking about the project when it will be big and nice, something was crunching in my stomach, seeing the little dying plants from the corner of my eye.

The next day I walked into the tunnel area and stopped by the seedlings. It was still hot and the plants were all still in shock from the plastic being gone that used to provide them some shade. I picked them up and put them in shaded area. Gave them some water. I started checking up on them twice a day to see how they were doing and if they needed to be moved to the sun, shade or needed some water. Even though they had looked like they were definitely going to die and that it was not worth spending time and energy on, five out of six came back beautifully even brighter and bigger than they had been before.

A few days ago I planted them into bigger pots, so they can start expanding their root system and grow up.

When many things have gone wrong, it can be easy to go into a mode of giving up. They seedlings had looked horrible, yet there was a small potential they could make it. My first instinct was to look at all that was going wrong. The frizzle, the brownness, the dead leaves.

It can then also be easy, to only look at the bright future. The big ideas you want to manifest, and how things will only be awesome once condition, x,y,z have been met – out there, in the future.

In focusing on only the bigger picture and all the things that still have to be done – I was missing the things I could do right here and now. Instead of focusing on the potential that was right in front of my eyes, it was easier to focus on all the things that were going wrong, ‘the bad’.

In the end, it’s all the small steps we take, the small actions, the things we do day in and day out – that accumulate to the bigger picture. It’s not this ‘one big thing’ that suddenly happens to us or manifests over night where only then things will be different. We have to implement changes and different approaches in the small moments we have, planting the seeds to eventually come together as a big change. The ‘big change’ not being the goal itself, but a side-effect of doing all we can do in what we have available for ourselves and others.

This reminded me of how I also tend to look at myself. Playing around with the idea of my potential, out there, in the future – where I focus on all the things I can do then, rather than working with where I am now and doing the things I can do right here. How I tend to only see all the lacks, flaws, mistakes I make – and disregard my gifts, the ways I have already grown and the potential that is already here to be developed and nurtured.

How we treat ourselves ultimately becomes how we treat others and our environment. How we treat others and our environment, ultimately becomes how we treat ourselves. On the Desteni Farm we focus on changing Nature, both within and without. As long as we don’t change and expand, we’re not going to find lasting, sustainable solutions for ourselves and the world. We’ll just be repeating more of the same, as our perception of was is possible is limited by our personal lense.

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Children and Food

We all want our children to grow up to be healthy individuals. But do we really know what is healthy for our children, let alone ourselves? With so many horror stories of ails, conditions and illness – fear may clutch our hearts where we desperately want our children to make healthy food decisions, but we may end up paving the way to hell(th).
Using coercion, manipulation or persuasion – we may comfort ourselves for a moment in the knowledge that we’re ‘doing the right thing’; while creating long terms consequences in our children’s psyche in relation to food. I share my own personal story of my emotional and traumatized relationship to food and how I currently work with my son when it comes to eating food.

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Need a Break from the Kids!

Do you sometimes take a break from your kid(s), loving the peace and quiet only to get all worked up again once they’re back in your space? In this video I share some dimensions I uncovered for myself when I feel the urge to ‘get a break’, so that I can be more stable and present, whether my son’s around or not.