Recently, I have often referred to external sources such as inspiring reports or books in my writing. This time, I would like to share my own observations. It will be “about life”, but there will also be a (small) socio-economic thread.
We commonly think that our behavior, expression, and general functioning in society are derived from our upbringing, the patterns we draw from (including religion within which we grow/operate), and our education (knowledge, various doctrines, etc.). Assuming good intentions from parents, catechists, or teachers, we should grow up in such a way as to become integrated, confidently entering and walking through the world. However, looking at the surrounding reality, the situation looks completely different – among hundreds of people I know, only a few could be described as consistent. These people are very easy to recognize – they are characterized by calmness. They have a healthy distance from power, career, and the world, which means they are not slaves to them.
The vast majority of society today is described by a completely different set of characteristics: constant anxiety and fear, nervous behavior, aggression, and tension. All of this is hidden behind a set of elaborate masks because, in the world of “winners,” it is not appropriate to show weakness. This schizophrenia translates into permanent stress, various physiological symptoms (illnesses), and aggressive forms of reaction (e.g. hate on social media). This external lack of consistency is a derivative of what is happening internally, especially the widespread lack of internal agreement regarding:
- The work we do – many people feel bad in their workplace, often it does not match their passion, as a result, they have to force themselves to perform the activities required by the boss.
- Family situation – we would like to truly love family members, but in reality, it rarely happens. The home is often a place to vent frustrations related to work.
- Our social life – we would like to feel that we are participating in something great, but the reality is squeaky.
In such a situation, all (including aggressive, such as hate) methods of expressing dissatisfaction that the world is not what we would like it to be are actually shouting/expressing our internal division, pain of disagreement with our own inconsistency and immaturity.
Traumas and Programs
This common lack of consistency requires a broader look at the set of factors that determine us. In my opinion, we are determined by something that can be broadly called “context.” Context is a set of parameters through which we have been shaped. The context consists of the elements already mentioned (upbringing, patterns, and education), but also a range of other, less obvious factors.
Very important elements of the context are those related to the place where we were born. For example, if we were born in Africa, we would think and act completely differently. We would also bear a national legacy and national traumas. Yes, in each of us, national traumas from partitions, lost uprisings, Nazi occupation, or socialism are recorded in some form. They affect us collectively (through myths and heroes we learn about in school and absorb in the media – e.g. deportee, insurgent, partisan, etc.), but also individually – passed directly from generation to generation. It is not without reason that one can increasingly come across the concept of a “chain of difficult relationships” – the war traumas of our grandparents were transferred in one form or another to our parents. They, in turn, passed them on to us, and we – if we do not break the chain – will pass them on to the next generation. This process is perfectly shown in the book “Gnój,” on the basis of which the famous movie “Pręgi” was made.
How important these elements are will be realized by anyone who is able to go beyond the official, propaganda message in a conversation with a friend or a stranger. In such situations, it turns out that practically everyone has their own “trauma” (usually “traumas”) that follows them from the past. In each case, these are very individual and relative things, resulting from the perception of specific situations from a unique perspective – one that is only available to us. One of my friends, for example, has a unique belief that strongly determines her adult life – as the oldest of three children, she never experienced her parents’ love to the same extent as her siblings. For someone else, it may be the ridicule of schoolmates for being overweight, and for yet another person, it may be the mother’s words “you’re good for nothing,” etc.
Why is all of this so important? Because the baggage we carry through life is much heavier than it might seem. A significant portion of it consists of the contents of our dark and musty basements, which include not only our traumas but also the defense mechanisms that have developed within us in response to them. These mechanisms reside in us in the form of a kind of “program.” In specific situations, they automatically reproduce themselves, effectively making very important life decisions for us. If you find yourself asking yourself afterwards, “Why did I do that? I didn’t want to do that. That wasn’t me,” then the answer is that you have become a “victim” of your own unconscious programs.
On the one hand, we are incredibly limited by these “programs,” and on the other hand, we are predictable. It is not without reason that many people eventually come to the conclusion that their messed-up lives are predetermined and that there is nothing they can do about it. This is one of the biggest lies of the modern world! The predictability of our lives is actually our own choice, which today is exploited by various companies (using it for profiling). To make matters worse, through advertising, they “upload” their own software into our minds. As a result, modern humans increasingly live in a delusion – instead of wanting what comes from within them, they take on what the world expects of them (parents, family, surroundings, corporations, etc.) as their own desires! In this situation, it is not surprising that so few people in the world are truly fulfilled – it is difficult to be fulfilled when pursuing a mission and goals that are not your own.
Not that island
Someone may ask, what’s wrong with having “programs” that work for us. After all, we also drive a car to a large extent on autopilot, we don’t have to consciously change gears all the time, we do it automatically. The difference, however, is that the “program” of driving a car is uploaded under our control – we know what’s in it, what it’s supposed to do, and when it’s supposed to be played back. Meanwhile, the programs that stem from trauma and negative experiences, which today make crucial life decisions for us, have uploaded themselves somewhat beyond our consciousness. Moreover, these are defensive programs that were meant to protect us – usually when we were children – from the evil of this world, especially the lack of love. These are programs whose common themes include denial, escape, coldness, etc. Therefore, when activated during important life decisions, they make us make wrong choices and as a result, our lives don’t look the way we want them to! We end up not where we should and could have landed.
Of course, one can negate such a view by not seeing the connection between a thousand individual decisions and a holistic vision of life. However, this connection is very strong, as is well illustrated by the maritime comparison: when a ship sets sail, it only takes a very small deviation from the actual to the planned course to end up in a completely different part of the world over thousands of miles. So it is with our lives – the permanent influence of our unconscious and uncontrollable “programs” on our decisions ultimately leads us to land on the island of “disappointment” instead of the island of “fulfillment and happiness” (and sometimes even worse).
Finally, the answer to the question of why this whole lengthy discourse and how it relates to socio-economic issues. Today I am sure that if we really want to change something in our country, give it a new course, start choosing NEW things, and leave a valuable legacy to future generations, we must first change ourselves. The fact that polarization, aggression, and hate are increasing in society, and politics has become a slaughterhouse (these were the recent words of one of the prominent politicians) is because, in certain circumstances (unrest, confusion), as a society, we begin to reach into our basements, and act even more based on what’s in there. As a result, not only as individuals but also as a society, we end up not where we could and want to be. And let no one be fooled by the fact that we are economically successful – materialism is just one dimension of the world in which we function, and its scale does not determine the strength of a nation and a state. Just look at our history to realize that the state of society as it is now always ends badly for us.
Therefore, reflection on one’s own life is so important. And of course, I have no intention of replacing psychologists, trainers, life coaches, etc. I just want to say that for me personally, realizing the mechanisms and relationships described above was one of the most important (if not the most important) moments of my life. Thanks to this, I can live much more consciously today, and as a result, make different choices than before, make – as I believe – better decisions.
Where to start? The first step should be to realize the need to change course – to compare where you want to be with where you are – and to closely observe yourself (your actions). This first step should lead to a new path. At first, it may not be very distinct – something like an overgrown forest path that has not been used in a long time. Over time, it will also turn out to be long and difficult, but you will walk it eagerly, because it is the path to finally become… yourself.