In one of my previous posts, I wrote about a phenomenon where we as women become controlling towards men. I am here diving even deeper into this pattern as I have realized that there are more dimensions to the point, and it is in fact multi-dimensional in nature. There are for example aspects of this pattern that are specifically related to male/female dynamics (and here I was reminded of classic 90’s sitcoms centered around a family where the man is ‘lazy’ and ‘relaxed’ and the female is always cleaning and being grumpy), but other aspects of this pattern are in fact more relate to how we in general interact with each other as human beings, how we were brought up ourselves and what we were taught in school.
How this pattern manifests in my day-to-day living is in my interactions with my partner, especially around housework (cleaning, cooking, maintenance etc.) where I will see (through a filter in my mind, which I will come back to) my partner as being ’careless’, ’inconsiderate’ and ’sloppy’ (a more specific definition of what I defined as ‘stupid’ in my previous post).
The situations that emerge can be as simple as my partner not putting the things he have used back where he took them or brushing up against one of my plants when vacuuming; simple mistakes or moments of inconsideration that could virtually be done by any person, myself included.
The experience that comes up within me in these moments is one of immense irritation, frustration and anger; with the primary charge is one of judgment, condemnation and contempt. When discussing this particular character that I access when my partner, I could see how I, not in a conscious but in an emotional way, experienced myself as being way high above my partner, looking down on him as a puny little thing and wanting to squash him under my foot, obviously not in a literal sense – but that is how I would translate the experience within my to a visual image; quite brutal.
So we started diving deeper into this pattern and investigated where this comes from. Because obviously my partner is not what I see him as within this reaction pattern – it comes from within me and thus is about me.
First of all, I saw that the judgment has to do with seeing it as unacceptable to be inconsiderate, careless and sloppy, the first two more so than the last. In fact, when looking at examples where this reaction comes up, I most often have no issue with the action my partner took, like dragging in dirt onto a clean floor for example. I fully understand and appreciate that this is a mistake we can all make, and it is nothing worse than it can’t simply be corrected by sweeping the floor and making sure one takes off one’s shoes before going into the house. So what I have an ‘issue’ with is not even the actions themselves, but what I believe they represent of my partner, and thus who I believe he is as he does these things, which is ‘careless’, ‘inconsiderate’ and ‘sloppy’. As I allowed this character to come through and speak, so that I could investigate it together with my partner, it was clear that it was a character of righteousness and moral judgment. The backchat that comes up are thoughts like “How CAN he be SO inconsiderate!!??” in a very distinct high-pitched, scorn, self-righteous and subtly victimizing female voice.
My partner asked me to go even deeper in the pattern, because he saw that there must be more to it than me simply adhering to a specific set of rules and principles that I react with judgment to, when they aren’t followed.
So we started looking at and questioning whether I behave in the same or similar ways, where and whether I am inconsiderate, careless and sloppy. When my partner asked me about that, an interesting thing happened: the character inside myself shifted from being this ’up on a high horse’ self-righteous one to feeling incredibly ashamed of myself and memories started surfacing of aspects of myself that I had judged as being careless, inconsiderate and sloppy.
See, I have never seen myself as a perfectionist or as someone who is particularly good at cleaning or taking care of a house. It is in fact something quite new to me as it is something I have been practicing and perfecting during the past couple of years. I was a lazy teenager and I virtually refused to help my mother around the house. It wasn’t until a very distinct moment where I observed my older cousin (she was in her early twenties, I was around thirteen) and how helpful she was and how people around her responded to her in a positive way because of it. I made a conclusion in my mind that if I were more helpful around the house, people would like me better. It is a distinct memory, because it was only after this event, that I decided that it might be best if I were more helpful. Until then, I simply didn’t care.
What I have been able to see from all of this is that I judge being inconsiderate, careless and sloppy as something that is distinctly BAD and WRONG and as something that I have been ashamed about within myself. I also see that I have fully believed and accepted that ’bad behavior’ warrants judgment and condemnation, so I judge others exactly as I judge myself.
This is very similar to another belief that is also connected to this point, which is the belief that it is WRONG and BAD to be selfish, egotistical or vain, and so these aspects of ourselves must be suppressed and hidden because it is so shameful to admit that one has acted in self-interest or vanity, that this behavior is not allowed to see the light of day. Interestingly enough, this way of looking at such behavior does in no way foster change as it simply states that ”It is not allowed to be this way” as though that in itself somehow magically would change a person or how they behave.
To change aspects of ourselves we have to embrace them, because only by embracing them (which is also accepting the premise that they are there) can we see them fully and thus understand them for what they are.
Going a layer deeper, what I have come to realize is at the core of this pattern, is a fear that I am evil, but not just a fear of being evil, but a fear of others seeing me as evil, being exposed as evil and being ostracized, judged and condemned for it.
So whenever my partner does something that I, in my mind considers to be inconsiderate or careless, I judge him as doing something evil, and by distancing myself from this behavior through massive judgment, I believe myself to be distancing myself from my own evil.
A particular memory stands out to illustrate how this works:
When I was four years old, I deliberately hit a younger girl on the playground. I clearly remember how I wanted to hit her, simply because I wanted to – it was in a sense ‘pure evil’. When I hit her she started crying and I panicked in fear imagining the teachers coming and yelling at me and THAT I did not want. So I started goofing around with the girl to get her to stop crying.
I did not feel guilty or remorse for hitting the girl. I didn’t care about the fact that I had hurt her. I cared about being exposed and judged as being BAD and that was what I didn’t want.
This is what is so dysfunctional about child/adult relationships. By yelling at children, by shaming them and judging them, we teach them to fear how others react to them – NOT to understand consequence, not to become emphatic and place oneself in the shoes of another. What this means is that we become ‘stuck’, encapsulated in a way in these moments where, we never get to reflect on or embrace these aspects of ourselves that are not BEST, because we learn to hide, suppress, shame and judge them into oblivion – except it isn’t oblivion because we haven’t actually dealt with them, they are still there, only now we act them out in secret, in shame, in hiding, which makes it even more difficult to confront and change.
So what I have done is that I have defined self-interested and potentially consequential behavioral patterns as taboo, not because I actually see them as such in self-honesty, but because I have adopted my environments reactions in a fear of being exposed, ostracized and categorized as evil and thereby experience shame and isolation (like the kid that is placed outside the door in school).
The solution I see is to embrace our ‘evil’ sides, the sides of ourselves that do not care about others, that acts deliberately in self-interest and without care for the well-being of others, the sides of us that are vain and self-absorbed, the sides of us that are deliberately spiteful and nasty towards others, the sides of us that are abusive and malignant and get a feeling of power from pushing others down. All of these are aspects of being human that we have condemned as being ‘unacceptable’ – but we have done it in such a way that we instead of enabling ourselves to take responsibility for these aspects of ourselves and change, we suppress, hide, ignore, distract, deflect, virtually do anything and everything possible to get away from these sides of ourselves, anything but actually embracing them and standing up within and from them.
So – when something is unacceptable, it does not mean that the solution is to condemn it or pretend it isn’t there. This is however not the same as enabling such behavior, in oneself or in another. By admitting/exposing that something is unacceptable due to the starting-point and consequence it creates, we can support ourselves and one another to walk a process of changing that, which is unacceptable within us. We can accept the fact that it is here now and at the same time not accept it to continue into the future.
By not accepting it, we deny, suppress, ignore which ironically has the opposite effect of what we intend: it remains active and functional within us, albeit in the shadows and secrets of our minds, to which we have less access because these suppression mechanisms use veiling and deception to remain hidden.
Evil has been a theme throughout my life. I have often believed myself to be evil, for various reasons, but one of them being that I did not seem to have the same moral compass that others had, and at some point I asked someone why I always saw myself as evil. He said: “because you don’t trust yourself.” I pondered about that for many years and I came to the conclusion that it meant that I wasn’t actually evil and that the problem was simply that I didn’t trust myself to accept that. What I realize now is that what I did not trust was myself with evil. I did not trust myself to be able to direct myself as the evil inside of me, and so I got caught up in hiding the parts of myself I judged as evil, instead of focusing on changing them – which is ultimately what we as adults ought to support children to do.
By embracing my own evil, I embrace all of me, not just the parts that I like or prefer about myself. By embracing my own evil, I no longer have to pretend NOT to be evil, to FIGHT to be good – and this means that I can change these aspects of myself, by no longer seeing them as taboos that I cannot and should not touch or admit exists.
Being inconsiderate and careless are symptomatic effects of who we has become as humanity. Our entire consumerist society is created on this basis. And yet, we constantly try to deny it, fight it, compensate for it and while we do that, it only gets worse and worse. It can be consequential to ourselves, others and the world around us if we are careless and inconsiderate, yes. Our starting-point within being inconsiderate or careless can be self-interested, yes. But condemning these parts of ourselves is not the solution, even when it is done deliberately, within spite or malignancy.
Very few of us have grown up in environments where we have been supported to become whole human beings with effective communication and life skills. Most of what we have learned from the generations that have gone before us has been dysfunctional, destructive and abusive in nature, even in so-called ‘normal’ families. So it is no wonder that we haven’t learned to consider others or to care about others, let alone ourselves. We got quite a process ahead of us to learn how to be supportive and effective human beings, who contribute more worth to this world than we destroy. And in this process we are going to face some nasty truths about each other and ourselves, but based on the evidence I have seen over the past 7 years, we have the tools to change and transform ourselves, even in the most evil parts and aspects – and in fact: we cannot do it, without ALSO facing, embracing and changing these aspects, because they are part of us and who we have become, whether we like it or not.
Yes, I did not care about hurting another human being. Yes, I cheated. Yes I stole and yes I lied. I did not care about you or your family because I cared about was myself, getting ahead in the world, getting applause. Yes, I said something nasty to you, just to see the hurt look in your eyes so I could feel like I was better than you. This was evil. I embrace myself as evil and I am here now, deciding to CARE, deciding to LISTEN, deciding to act in a way that is best for all, deciding to consider the consequences of my actions and expand my considerations until they encompass all of existence. I am here to learn how to care FOR REAL, not because some adult threatens me to, or tells me to apologize, while not caring about whether I mean it. I am walking a process of learning how to live in a way that is not abusive towards anything or anyone, even myself, because I see that this is what is best – this is the best I can do, the best I can become and I do not see how my life can have any worth, value or purpose if I do not walk this process. I am doing it for me yes, for all of us – but I am NOT doing it out of fear of being punished, exposed or isolated by proponents of moral judgments, outside myself or inside my head. I am not hiding my evil or condemning others for the evil in them, because it is the same evil that exists in all of us, and it is a part of us, a destructive, consequential part of us, but still a part of us.
Exactly as we cannot change societies by opting out of them and pretending like they don’t exist, we also cannot change ourselves by condemning parts of ourselves. We have to change them from within and to do that, we need to understand them, how we created them, what beliefs we are stuck within. And to do that, we need to embrace them within ourselves, because by embracing them we wrap ourselves around them with care, consideration and support, we hold them unconditionally inside ourselves and recognize them as parts of ourselves that needs guidance, forgiveness and support to change. Exactly as the adults should have done with us when we were young.
I’ll share a few other posts I have written on this subject, if you would like to dive more into it: