How Reality Challenged Are You?

Recently, I met a single mother who had no money, no means and was, unfortunately, never really taught her own worth or how to spot opportunities.  She was afraid of people because she was never really given any tools to effectively handle her interactions with them in a way that allowed her to get her needs fulfilled. 

The result: a real lack of confidence.  That lack of confidence left her, sadly, unable to even know where to begin to put her life in balance.  It’s a common and devastating occurrence that no one should have to suffer.  Still, it happens.  And when it does, different people cope in different ways.

To cope she told herself that she was chosen to inspire the world through poetry and her keen spiritual insight. Instead of cultivating the skills she needed to turn her real talents—the ones no one had ever really noticed or encouraged—into something that could provide real value for herself and her daughter, she spent her days writing poetry. Why? It was easy and she didn’t have to rely on anyone else for it.  Plus, she’d convinced herself it was the “divine” thing to do. 

She justified her ‘life’s purpose’ of writing down her feelings in a journal (a method of confession, guilt relief and, in fact, a strategy to nullify some of the very real fear and pain she was grappling with) by telling herself that she’d been called to a higher purpose of “uplifting the human soul and giving people hope.”

But in reality no one really noticed what she was doing because she had no audience.  She and her child fell further into poverty and struggle.  That drove her further inside and she spent her days writing about how alone she was.  That made people avoid her more because she brought them down. But none of that changed her view: inside, she believed this was her divine calling and that she was a raging success inspiring people to greatness.  Even when she couldn’t feed her daughter.

I’ve been watching this sort of thing happen a lot lately.  On social media and with people I meet through the day and in my coaching work.  Some people make statements that show an alarming difference between who they believe they are, how they act and what’s really going on in their lives.

Now, in the last two articles on lying I told you guys all about the primal motivations that people need to have fulfilled before they can feel success, happiness and fulfillment. If you haven’t read those articles I encourage you to read them now.  Up to this point I’ve only told you that humans need these things fulfilled if they’re ever going to feel content and satisfied; and if they can’t get them fulfilled, they lie.  But in this article I’m going to show you just how serious it can get if those motivations are not fulfilled.  It can get really crazy. 

From a mind control perspective there are several what we call “interrogation types”.  Really the ‘types’ are coping strategies.  As I mentioned above, different people cope in different ways.  There are, in fact, all people fall into one or more of these observable coping strategies.  But I guarantee you that there are a lot less of them than you might think.  People are really not as varied as they think they are.  There are actually only nine types or “strategies” that all people fall into. These strategies develop early in life along with such things as the Briggs-Meyers profile. Two of these types are responsible for the sort of discrepancies I spoke of earlier.  They are referred to in mind control circles as: “Self-Centered” and “Reality Challenged”.

Now, before we go on, ask yourself:

  • Have you ever convinced yourself and others that your life was fantastic even though it wasn’t? 
  • Or concocted some incredible story about yourself that was false just to avoid facing what was really going on?
  • Ever project your shortcomings onto someone else so that you could remain blameless and appear to have it all together even though you didn’t?
  • If your life was slipping out of control and your friends, out of concern, came to you and told you what was happening, would you believe them or dismiss them for questioning you?

 

As I outlined in the last two articles people lie for two reasons: 1. We lie when we’re hungry and we can’t get our primal motivations satisfied. 2. We lie when the fact that we can’t feed ourselves is exposed to others.  (See “What Makes You a Liar?” https://gravestomper.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/what-makes-you-a-liar/ and “Are You Lying To Yourself” https://gravestomper.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/what-makes-you-a-liar-part-2/ below.)  But some of us do it so habitually that it degenerates into complete delusion, ie the “self-centered” and “reality challenged” coping strategies. 

The reality challenged type tend to be introverted.  Not all introverts are reality challenged but the reality challenged coping strategy is introverted.  They can be thinking or feeling if you’re looking at their Briggs Meyers profile.  But somewhere in their childhood, for whatever reason, they didn’t think or feel they were significant enough in their outside world and it drove them inside to create a fantasy world where they were more relevant.   The difference between who they are in this inner world and who they are in the outer world is staggeringly different.  Even frightening.

They have a really difficult time maintaining lasting relationships because real relationships make them feel less relevant then they do in their inner fantasy world.  They’re rarely, if ever, aware that their lives are built on lies, because they have no idea that their primal motivations aren’t being met.  In fact, they wouldn’t believe that the sixteen primal motivations have been observed repeatedly for thousands of years and are used to move people all the time by those who know mind control.  To them, things like mind control is a joke, something for kooky conspiracy theorists. Impossible. 

In his world: the reality challenged individual is untouchable.  A master who defies categories.  Unique and  limitless. Even though all outward evidence proves otherwise.  Even though he is a definite and observable type.  Even though he is being moved every day by those who took the time to observe how to move him.

This type has an interesting strategy for dealing with people who question them.  Anyone who questions their fantasy is dubbed an ‘inferior’. They hate it when ‘inferiors’ question them.  The problem is, that ‘inferior’ status is based on the fantasy of who they think/feel they are. So, it sort of dissolves into a simple self-defense reflex: “if you question my greatness you must be inferior.”  And their fantasy is reinforced.

The reality challenged person usually has a “cause”, that is, whatever fantasy she’s running at the moment is the means to an end, whatever end that may be.  Usually it’s something that justifies her fantasies. 

There’s a similar set of strategies that come with those we call the ‘self-centered’ type.  These guys are also introverted too but are driven for outside approval.  They were likely bullied in their lives.  Because others didn’t accept them they went inside to feel love and comfort.  The outside is full of pain and unclean experiences for them so they avoid it and experience everything directly inside. 

They’re really sensitive to criticism and they, like the reality challenged, are also lacking the tools they need to satisfy their primal drivers.  (See “What Kind of a Liar Are You?” below.) To hide this they brag about themselves rather than taking action.   They tell everyone all of the great things they’re going to do or greatly exaggerate the value of what they have done. In the end they do very little but brag.

They are also full of fear and lacking self confidence, but these guys are constantly looking at their environment and ‘editing’ it to cast them in the best possible light.  Again they are not getting those primal motivations fulfilled and so they’re filtering their experiences internally to convince themselves they are.  The result?  They are living a  sort of zombified half-life.  Seeking approval and constantly bragging.  But inside there’s nothing but guilt and shame and fear.

If you asked either type, the reality challenged, or the self-centered if they were happy, they would concoct all sorts of stories about how successful and fulfilled they are even though their actions, their word choice, their body posture and their general state of living will always show you otherwise.

I have a friend who’s father is reality challenged. I’ve watched him ever since I was in my teens. When he was younger it wasn’t as pronounced or noticeable as it is now. When we were kids he held himself up as a successful authority, a physical therapist and effective parent.  We used to see him sit in his living room chair and drink to go inside and feed his fantasy place. 

As he’s gotten older he’s revealed to us what he really believes.  In his inner world he is an inspiration to his children.  A world class physical therapist.  He believes his wife loves him unconditionally and that his mistress would be nothing without him.  He, in fact, wanted to have a child with his mistress because he felt he was such an inspiration to the three adult children he already has.

In reality, he’s a timid man who’s afraid of social interaction.  None of his children live anywhere near him because they don’t particularly like him much. He’s so-so at his work. His wife is happy for the first time in a couple of decades because she just told him to get out of her house: she’s divorcing him.  His mistress has told him she’s really not interested in him anymore. 

My friend has really given up on him because he refuses to accept any facts.  And still,  he feels that he’s the lynch pin of everyone and every life around him; that they all admire and love him very much because he’s such a remarkable example of success. But all you have to do is shake hands with him and immediately you know from his weak grip and how his eyes look downward how much he’s ruled by fear and how much he’s settled in his life.

So, why am I telling you all of this?

First, to further emphasize how important the 16 primal motivations I referred to in the last two articles really are. If you haven’t read those articles yet you should now.

And second, to let you know that there are people out there like this.  Who will lie and deny no matter what evidence you give them that their lives just aren’t working. Who will get angry with you for questioning them.  Who will expect you to conform to their reality even though it is impossible to do so.  Because no matter how unsuccessful, angry, unfulfilled they are…dude, they’re convinced…they got it all figured out!

And whether they know it or not, they’re vulnerable to their lives and minds being hijacked by anyone who wishes to, simply because they’re not managing themselves.

Birth of a Gravestomper

Maybe it all started that afternoon when I was wandering through the St Francis Borgia grammar school library looking for something to read. Those days reading bored the hell outta me. I preferred being outside: running, biking, lying under the hundred-year-old silver maples in my front yard making up adventures. There was life outside in the open air and things were so stagnant in that Catholic school. There was little of interest to me within it’s beige walls and filthy asbestos ceilings. So much so that in second grade I asked one of the nuns to let me go to the bathroom and I simply walked out of the school and ran away. It took my father throwing me to the ground, beating me and kicking me to make me agree not to leave it again.

 

But anyway: back to the library. I was looking for something that would excite me. I’d already read the only book the school had on Greek mythology about fifty times. I loved the stories of the Gods. They were so much more interesting than the battered crucified curse we had to face above the chalkboards every day. That was a constant reminder that there was no way to win. If the Catholics didn’t lobotomize me with their our fathers and hail mary’s, then someone else would sling me up on a tree and nail me in. Their philosophy sucked. A point I reiterated years later in Catholic high school to a gym teacher who then dragged me into his office and beat me up. Another curse. They were all about curses, these people. But the old Greeks knew the Gods weren’t infallible. They were like us only bigger and more powerful. This seemed important to me. But there was only one book about them in that Catholic library. Looking back now, I admit, I’m surprised there was even the one; but there was, and I’d read it; and I was looking for something else; and that’s when I saw it.

 

It was the cover that caught my eye. It was black. On it was was a black and green winged figure pointing at a couple of tombstones. Behind the figure a purple sky was split by a lightning bolt and above this was the title, Here Lies the Body by Scott Corbett.

 

I checked it out and immediately started reading it. It was about a New England boy and his little brother, who was may age, who got a summer job cutting grass in ‘Hemlock Hill Burial Ground’. The elder brother wanted to be a writer and spent his time making up poems about the names on the tombstones. Turns out there was a mystery surrounding the two old men who owned the cemetery. It was a great read that left an indelible mark on my imagination. I read the book maybe a dozen times after that.

 

As it happed, my house in Chicago was walking and biking distance from at least six cemeteries. I decided to have some adventures like my heroes from the book and started spending my days—and when I was older, some nights—in Acacia, Westlawn, Mount Olive, St Joesph’s and Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove where John Belushi was originally buried before they moved his body to Massachusetts. In my teens I discovered Graceland and Rosehill on the North side where the first communal mausoleum was built. I fully explored the famous Mount Carmel: notorious for all of the gangsters like Al Capone who are buried there and where all of my Irish/Italian family is buried. I was looking for something. I didn’t know what.

 

When my mother found out I spent so much time in cemeteries she was horrified and said: “How can you do that?”

 

Why” I said to her. “It’s not the dead I’m worried about. It’s the living.” Which tells me now that even then I understood one of the principles central to the Tibetan Bon process: a realization that this life is characterized by suffering. But what no one seemed to be able to tell me was: How to we go beyond that suffering?

 

My time in cemeteries instilled a habit in me. One that lead me to search through the dark of this city for something even though I didn’t know what I was looking for. I know now I was looking for the way to go beyond death. I knew there had to be a way and it wasn’t through the crucified curse. I’d read about Easterners who meditated in cemeteries and I was intrigued. Where did the practice come from? I wanted to know. Later I would find out: Tibet.

 

In my late teens I began to explore dark Chicago nights, clubs, smoky bars and glistening city streets the way I’d searched those cemeteries in my youth. Still looking for the answer to what was behind that dark. On the way home I’d drive into Acacia cemetery, which was open all night back then, and I’d sit on the gravestones and stare up at the stars. One those nights I always knew: the answer would eventually come.

 

One night in the late 80’s I was in club Berlin, staring at a New Order video on the screen. I set my glass down hard on the bar and said aloud to no one: “I’m not coming back! This is it for me.”

Evidently I’d made a decision, but about what I didn’t know. By the time I hit 30 I’d fully explored the ‘New Age’ and found it to be to be no different from the religion I’d been raised on. There was no answer to what I’d been looking for in those cemeteries, or on those dark streets. Just an endless string of opinions.

 

By the time I was in my mid thirties I was researching Tibet. I uncovered a reference to these incredible Tibetans who were called Bön. They were in Tibet before the Buddhists got there and indeed the Buddhists had learned from them. I couldn’t believe some of the legends about these incredible people. Could they be true? According to the book they were all but extinct.

 

“Now, where the hell am I going to find one of these Bön?” I said to myself.

 

But I didn’t have to find one. Two weeks later one found me. I was up in Wisconsin doing palm readings at a Spring festival. He was a Bönku or “seed of Bön”. That is, a Bön master. He gave me a meditation to try and I did it. When I’d master it he gave me another exercise. Unlike all the religions I’d grown up around he never asked me to trust him or believe him or follow him. He simply gave me these experiments and said, “Try them. See what happens.”  See, now, if I was a New-Ager, this is the part of the story where I’d tell you that this Bönku told me I had a special gift, great spiritual power and that I was chosen to lead people. That sort of thing is pure bullshit. He didn’t tell me I was ‘special’ or that I was ‘chosen’. In fact he basically showed me how ignorant I was, and I how I was a prisoner of my own life and habits the way all of us humans are. If anyone had told me I was very powerful I would have known it was bullshit because I felt totally powerless back then. Power was the one thing I wanted because I was tired of having any and all power taken from me by others. I’m astonished so few are willing to admit the fact that they want power. They’re so afraid of it. But just because they pretend not to want it, doesn’t mean they’re fooling anyone. It could lead them to great things if they’d just admit it. But he did tell me that if I worked my ass off I could have great power and reach enlightenment: the way all humans can. It’s just that most humans already think they are already enlightened and so they can’t even be bothered to try and grow further. 

 

By midsummer that year I had taken vows of refuge. Meaning, I committed 11 years of my life to Bön training. That first year I learned all about the famous “cemetery work” of the Bön. (Some of it is chronicled in Alexandra David-Neel’s wonderful book, Magic and Mystery in Tibet.) And I realized why I had always been drawn to cemeteries. Lets just say that cemetery practices and all of the practices we Bön do are aimed at ending suffering: our own and the suffering of others. And we’ve dedicated our time here to manging our minds and ending suffering.

 

Now, cemeteries hold a great deal of magic for me. And I, as a Bön “Gomchen” as we are called, spend my time stomping the grounds with a great deal of appreciation and respect not only for the energies present in those places, but in the power of those places to relieve us of suffering, fears and limitations. For me, every trip to a cemetery is another adventure; it reminds me that we are more than mere dust and bones. We are energy.

 

But as my Bönku said to me the first day I met him: “If you’re not managing your energy, who is?”

 

And that my grave stomping friends, is the key to it all…