All beliefs are relative

Some people don’t like to hear it, but all beliefs are relative. Religion, politics, sports teams. It doesn’t matter where you find the belief, it’s relative. The problem with the human mind is that it often forgets that beliefs are relative and, soon enough, takes its own value system as law. This is the beginning of righteousness, and that’s the beginning of trouble. People fight wars, discriminate against neighbors, and perform all manner of hate-crimes because they fail to remember that all beliefs are relative. They believe that their beliefs are the right ones, and anyone who feels different is certainly wrong.

Although it might seem harmless, forgetting that all beliefs are relative is the first steps towards a less intelligent life. Believing that you hold the right answers is just another way for you to believe that you don’t have to learn anything more. It seems that all over America, people are terrified to let the words ‘I don’t know’ slip from their mouths, as if admitting ignorance is such a huge crime or social faux pas. But it’s not, admitting that you don’t know if the first step in learning so that next time you find yourself in the same situation, you can honestly say, ‘I know.’ If you really want to learn, if you really want to grow as a person, then you’ve got to get comfortable embracing your ignorance. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. People who feign knowledge are, usually, scared. The space of not-knowing can be a frightening place to be, and it takes courage to admit ignorance. But trust me, it’s the first step to real knowing.

The relativity of beliefs is obvious enough when you travel. You get on a plane to cross the Pacific or the Atlantic or maybe just to cross our southern border. Whenever you land, you find yourself in a world that believes differently than you. What people call culture shock is nothing more than a serious case of belief clashes. Sure, in India, people eat with their hands, and that may be uncomfortable or strange to you, but it’s a belief that generates that behavior. Many Indians believe that food tastes better if it’s offered to the mouth by the bare hand. Obviously, this is a subjective belief, and because of that, we cannot say that it’s true or false for anyone other than ourselves.
With enough exposure to beliefs that are not native to your mind, you’ll soon realize this relativity for yourself, and that’s when you really gain a rare perspective in this world. For sure, it is sometimes tough because you’ll be surrounded by people who insist their beliefs are the ‘right’ ones and everyone who thinks differently is ‘wrong.’ But if you reach this point, you’ll have a greater freedom than you knew before, because once you realize that all beliefs are relative, soon after, you’re going to realize your capacity to pick and choose your beliefs. You’ll actually be able to choose the beliefs that best serve you and release those that aren’t in your best interests. For sure, it’s a brave new world, and it can be scary, but it’s so full of potential that you may soon be overwhelmed with positive opportunities.

Before I said travel was a good way to learn about belief relativity, and it’s true. It may be the easiest way, but it can also be one of the most difficult and extreme. Once you find yourself in mainland China where no one speaks English, it’s hard to get much done, belief or not. Other than travel, there are other ways for you to learn to see the relativity of your beliefs.

Confidence Strategies For The Superhuman

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could just wake up in the morning, brush our teeth and put on our confidence for the day? If you could literally “Turn our swag on”?

Well, for those of us who don’t have a drawer full, here are 4 simple strategies that will help you build confidence.

1. Accentuate the positive.

Be your own best friend. What do you tell a friend who’s tried something new, whether or not it turned out well? At least you tried something new- good for you!

Accentuate the effort it took in doing something, rather than the final outcome. (You’d do it for your best friend, wouldn’t you?) We all have limitations. The key is to accept that you have them without dwelling on them.

2. Don’t be afraid to take some risks.

When you are about to embark on a new experience, do you find yourself worrying so much about the outcome you aren’t enjoying the moment? If you look at new things in your life as a chance to learn something, it opens up the possibility of you becoming good at that something.

If you spend your time dreading the outcome, you’ll turn any opportunity there might have been into a failure. What’s more, we can’t grow when we are frozen with fear. Don’t set yourself up to fail. If you do, look at number one, again!

3. Use self-talk to keep assumptions away.

We all use self-talk. The key is to use it in a way that we don’t form bad thoughts that can lead to permanent doubts. Catch yourself using negative self-talk and cancel it with something positive and not based on assumptions!

Build confidence by not expecting perfection from yourself at all times. Perfection is paralysis. It stops you from actually taking action. You can only do your very best at something. Nobody can do everything perfectly, so why do you assume that you should be able to?

4. Learn to rely on your self-evaluation.

If you always rely on the opinion of others, you’ll always be wondering what they think! That does nothing to build confidence – it tears it down, by giving away your personal power to others.

Focus on the real you, inside, to find out how you feel about your own actions, how you’ve been doing your job, etc. You’ll be developing a strong sense of who you are.

It’s important to remember that no one can be self-confident all of the time. In fact, the paradox is, you’ll build confidence faster and easier once your realize that.

Most people with low self-esteem or who lack in confidence are that way because of unrealistic expectations. They expect more from themselves than they do others.

A person with low self-esteem will think nothing about calling him or herself a stupid idiot. However, they wouldn’t dream of saying that to someone else. To build confidence it’s a good idea to be your own best friend. You know you are. So look into the mirror, force a big hearty smile and know that you’re imperfectly perfect! Look up: Wabi Sabi – Kintsugi, notice how the cracks of this style of pottery use gold, embrace your flaws and walk out of the door feeling like a king, queen or mystic! That’s all for today.

Listen to this binaural below for a confidence boost:

 

Remember to book a skype call with me – send me an email at coachingwithsume@gmail.com!

7 Creative Thinking Blocks And Their Solutions

We’re all skilled at creative thinking. It is, after all, the predominant way we think as children. The reason we lose the skill as we grow up is because of the blocks we put in the way. In this article I’ll show you 7 ways you can unblock your creativity and think like a child again.

Each of us has the power to be creative. It’s part of our natural make-up as human beings. The trouble is that, too often, we block our natural creativity and so make errors in thinking and give ourselves more problems than we should. Here are 7 ways to open up your natural creativity and keep the channels unblocked.

1. Don’t Make Assumptions. When we assume, we often make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. Assumptions are examples of lazy thinking. We simply don’t wait to get all the information we need to come to the right conclusions. There is the story of the customer at the bank who after cashing a cheque and turning to leave, returns and says: “Excuse me, I think you made a mistake.” The cashier responds, “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do. You should have counted it. Once you walk away we are no longer responsible.” Whereupon the customer replies: “Well, okay. Thanks for the extra $20.”

Tip: When you feel yourself wanting to draw conclusions, just wait until you have all the information.

2. See Things From Other Points Of View. A truly open mind is willing to accept that, not only do other people have other just as valid points of view from theirs, but that these other points of view may be more valid. A story is told that the modernist painter Pablo Picasso was once traveling on a train across Spain when he got into conversation with a rich businessman who was dismissive of modern art. As evidence that modern art didn’t properly represent reality, he took out a photo of his wife from his wallet and said: “This is how my wife should look, not in some silly stylized representation.” Picasso took the photo, studied it for a few moments and asked: “This is your wife?” The businessman proudly nodded. “She’s very small,” observed Picasso wryly.

Tip: Don’t have a monopoly on how things are. Things aren’t always what they seem. Be ready to consider other points of view.

3. Avoid Yo-Yo Thinking. Some people tend to have a tendency to swing from a highly positive mood one minute to a highly negative one the next, all because of what they see in front of them. It’s like a yo-yo: up one minute, down the next. It’s far more healthy to stay neutral and not let emotions get the better of you.

Tip: Remember that things are rarely as good – or as bad – as you think they are.

4. Get Rid Of Lazy Thinking Habits. Habit can be a major stumbling block to clear thinking and another example of laziness. Try this experiment. Write down the Scottish surnames Macdonald, Macpherson, and Macdougall and ask someone to pronounce them. Now follow these with the word Machinery and see what happens. Most people are likely to mis-pronounce it. This is because we tend to think in habitual ways and don’t like what doesn’t fit.

Tip: Don’t think that, just because things happened in a certain way once before, that they will happen like that again.

5. Don’t Think Like An Old Person, Think Like A Child. Research shows that the number of synapses, or connections, in the brain is greater in a child of two than in an average adult. The reason for this is that, while a child of two has no limiting world view, as adults we do. It’s like a sculptor who starts off with a large block of clay, more than he needs, and then gradually removes the clay as he moulds his sculpture. If we use our brain like a child, accepting everything without judgment, we can actually halt and reverse the brain ageing process.

Tip: Don’t worry about the myth of age. With the right stimulus and a passion for learning, you can actually improve your brain’s powers.

6. See The Detail As Well As The Big Picture. You may know the poem by John Godfrey Saxe called “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. This tells how six blind men of Indostan go to see an elephant and each try to work out what it is from touching it. One blind man touches the tusk, another the trunk, another the tail, and so on. Of course, not being able to see the whole elephant, they come to wildly different conclusions.

Tip: Try to keep the big picture in front of you while looking at details. It will help to put everything in its proper place and context.

7. Think For Yourself. Taking time out to think is still frowned on in many organizations that prize activity over creativity. People who work in creativity-constrained organizations are likely to think the way they are supposed to think, or as others think, or as has always been the way to think. It’s like the blinkered thinking that Hans Christian Anderson describes in his story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes“. Everyone in the land refuses to see that the emperor is naked and has been duped into believing he is wearing a splendid costume for his coronation. Only a young boy who has been ill and not party to the cultural brainwashing can see the truth and cries out: “Look, everyone, the Emperor is wearing no clothes!”

Tip: Don’t let others tell you how to think. When others ask your opinion, tell it to them straight.

Once you make these 7 techniques part of your habitual thinking patterns, you will amaze yourself with how easy it is to come up with fresh, innovative and creative solutions to all of life’s problems. Go forth and create.

How to be a Responsible Coach

Coaching With Sume

Assuming the Responsibilities that come with Being a Coach

Who can forget the famous line of Spiderman’s grandfather? He said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Society expects Spiderman, a comic book, TV and movie superhero with extraordinary powers to be responsible for saving his town and the world from the forces of evil. And he never let us down. Despite the temptations of owning such powers, he uses his abilities only for the good of the people around him.

Being a coach has similar parallels. They don’t have superhuman powers such as x-ray vision or flying through the air with magic sticky ropes (though I do sometimes use a lot of post-its). But great coaches can have real power through their abilities to help others and with it, the responsibility to guide others towards success. This is REAL power that can be used to help real people in THIS world. Done well, coaches can help others turn around their lives. Done wrong, and a coach could guide a client down the wrong path.

So, with this power to coach your clients towards manifesting their personal and/or business vision comes responsibilities. Great coaches assume them all as part of the professional responsibility. This can include everything from making sure your client is moving in the right direction, getting them back on course when they are not, and developing and tracking their use of exercises to help them along the way.

There are a few things you can do to be a more responsible coach. Just as important, these same skills can be imparted to your clients to help them lead more responsible, integrity-filled lives.

How to Bring out the more Responsible You in Yourself and your Client

#1 – Develop self-awareness.
Learn and know your own strengths and weaknesses to be able to view your behavior objectively. Recognize your shortcomings, receive feedback, and make changes when necessary. The more self-aware you become of all your aspects, the more you will know what kind of clients you can coach best and ñ just as important ñ those best referred to others.
Dr. Gerard Bell, business consultant and professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, advises us on how to expand our self-knowledge. He said, study yourself closely and practice self-assessment techniques to learn how you behave, and the effects you have on others. As others for their option, feedback, and suggestions to become a better coach.
The lesson is simple: the more we grow, the more we can offer, and the more we can help others.

#2: Learn to Separate Responsibility from Worry

When we hear the word responsibility, we often think to ourselves, another task, another problem. However, responsibility is not about worrying over things give to us to work out.

Consider this story:

One night at the end of the second shift, the Head of Operations walked out of the plant he managed and passed a porter.

A porter he passed said, “Mr. Smith, I sure wish I had your pay. But I wouldn’t want the worry that goes with it.”

Mr. Smith answered, “I give the best I can when I am here. But I drop the worry when I leave so I can be 100% with my family when I’m at home.”

You, too, can learn to give your best to challenging work, but then leave it at the door when you’re off-hours. Worrying accomplishes nothing except to eat away at us, and actually ends up making us less effective! Don’t let worry taint your clarity of judgment and ability to take decisive action. You can learn this as you grow.

Carrying the responsibility of coaching should not intimidate you. It is the ability to help others that coaching is all about. Embrace the responsibilities that come with it.

Nothing is gained by worrying about whether your clients achieve their goals or not. Focus on supporting and inspiring them. Be their partner in their growth. Brainstorm with them when it is called for. But ultimately, it is your clients responsibility to assume responsibility for accomplishing their goals. You merely help them see and achieve this state.

#3: Take Calculated Risks and Learn from Your Mistakes

Effective coaches have the courage to ask their clients to take risks when results and success are uncertain. A willing ness to risk failure is a core attribute of all successful people.

As a coach you can help your clients work with risk and possible failure. Help them learn to analyze their situation and options. Work with them to list the pros and cons for each option, then assign each choice a risk factor rating from 1 to 5. Next, have them determine the likelihood of each occurring. This will help them quantify and manage the risk-taking process.
Also, lead them to a better paradigm regarding failure. What is failure other than great feedback that our current course of action isn’t the right path? Use this information for course correction. Failure doesn’t happen until we give up. If you don’t give up, then failure isn’t an option. A client once told me “I am a failure” and I responded “If you are a failure then how did you phrase that so succesfully?”.

#4: Own and admit our mistakes

Our greatest lessons and growth come through our mistakes. Everyone makes them; it is part of life. Help your client understand this, and they will be able to draw the necessary lessons and take corrective action. If we do the blame game, we don’t even take the first step (ie. ownership) in this process.

Not only does owning our mistakes and failures help us to be more truthful and powerful in our own lives. Owning and assuming responsibility for them lets others see the integrity and virtue within us, and hence further gain their respect.

 

Personal Mastery

What Is Personal Mastery?

Personal mastery is about approaching life from a unique or different perspective, putting on those paradigm-shift goggles.  Sometimes people would refer to it as a journey towards continuous improvement. Continuity and momentum is ideal in a personal mastery framework. There is a concept of Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy of continuous, small progressions of improvement. Personal  mastery can be seen in this light. It is guided with key principles like vision, personal purpose, creative tension, commitment to truth and understanding the power of the subconscious mind.

One of the most important fundamental aspects of personal mastery is personal vision.  Personal mastery when combined personal vision can create a framework or guiding philosophy on how you can operate and live your life.  Some people would say that personal vision serves as a guide that would keep you on track.

Followers of personal mastery see that there are great opportunities to improve their growth.  Followers recognize that there are many avenues for growth and opportunities like books, tapes, lectures and school courses. Investing in oneself unlocks this potential. People also benefit from organizations in their quest for personal mastery.

Personal mastery is about loving yourself and expressing your gifts to its fullest.  Some would think that personal mastery is controlling and limiting one self, but actually it is about understanding your personality.  To control or overcome some habits, it would be important to identify how ad why those habits arise.  The more you suppress things, the more you would have difficulty in conquering and overcoming it.

Personal mastery is self-discipline.  It is about taking responsibility for the direction that your life is going to take.  You would slowly realize that you can do anything with the aid of your skills and talents.  Discipline would clarify and deepen your perspective in life.  Those who quest for personal mastery would develop patience and see life objectively.

Personal mastery can actually help you become successful in life.  You can say that you have developed personal mastery if you are starting to fully understand your strengths, talents and your purpose in life.  Personal mastery enables you to be inspired, energized and happy with your life. You start to show a sense of commitment in changing on how people perceive life and the world.  The ultimate thing about personal mastery is that you would always feel that you are guided and supported by the universe, even if it feels kind of naive at times. I love the word Pronoia (opposite of paranoia) when describing this.

It is also important for a person who is in quest for personal mastery to develop integrity, humility, justice and industry.  Actually, these are rules on how we could conduct ourselves professional, socially and spiritually.

We live expecting ourselves to achieve mastery over ourselves with some sort of magic pill but it doesn’t work like that. It’s somewhat like a personality, its malleable like Playdoh and builds up over time. Peter Senge, a systems scientist has said that attaining personal mastery has no shortcuts or no quick fixes. Sometimes it would take a lifetime for personal mastery to be attained.  Personal mastery detaches a person from self-interest or selfishness and encourage people towards providing care and service to other people.  Also individuals who follow personal mastery see the connections in their surroundings and perceived everything as a whole.

Proactive behaviour is also something that personal mastery helps you to develop.  Reactive behaviour like thinking beforehand hand that you cannot do things is dealt with when developing personal mastery.  Actions and service that you provide are based on how you can creatively maximize your skills and capabilities.

To summarize it, personal mastery guides you to develop being aware with your beliefs, attitudes and behaviour impacts.  It also enables you to accept yourself and be responsible with your own action, attitude, and thought.

Experts would say that personal mastery could be truly gained by living purposefully and by living with integrity.  Living purposefully would include showing talents, gifts and strengths to achieve goals and be successful.  Living with integrity is by integrating your ideals, standards and behaviour.

Socialization within the “Burning Man” community

Socialization within the “Burning Man” community


Sumedh Chatterjee

 

Burning Man is an annual art event in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It attracts a large community of people who stay there temporarily. The mission of burning man is to produce a positive spiritual change in the world. Similar to the Esalen Institute, Burning Man is now an expanded organization, which has founding principles just like it.  This paper explores the socialization of the community associated with this event and the social construction of this event.  This is analyzed in the light of theories from different experts in the field of cognitive sociology/social psychology such as  Stryker, Cooley, Pagis, Holloman, Brekhus, Becker, Goffman, Fine, Heider & Weiner and others.

Research shows that the Burning Man community is adequately self-sustaining and wants to overthrow authority. It has a rule that goes – “say YES to everything”. It is important that the members of the community participate at Burning Man event.  Burning a wooden man (effigy) is a metaphor for overthrowing authority. The event brings to light Stryker’s views that “human beings are an active agent of behavior, not just a passive respondent to external stimuli”. The videos and pictures related to the burning man event show how  “Burning man” has a real bohemian vibe to it. The ways people are dressed seem to breach normality. The community of burning man is diverse and there is definitely an emphasis on freedom. It attracts a lot of youth because of this quality.

The transformative quality of the burning man community has a lot to do with the experiences that the community had to go through. It had to move out from a site of more conformity -a California beach to one with less conformity -the rocky mountainous desert scenario in Nevada. This reminds me of Cooley’s theory of the looking glass self, which states that we see ourselves, through the mirroring of how others see us.  Pagis talks about shifting attention of humans to the sensations in our bodies. This is probably the meditative quality that the people in the Burning Man community have from restorative experiences. Holloman’s article speaks about “psychic openings” which is a ritual manifestation of emotions. This seems to happen a lot within the burning man community and during the event, without the members actually thinking about it. Just being a part of this environment and watching a burning effigy can have a transformational quality.

William Brekhus splits humans into three groups. Are the people in Burning Man community -Lifestylers, Commuters or Integrators? There seem to be broad ranges of social categories that come into play. Most of the people working on art and the installations would be commuters (something they do) , a large portion of the community is likely to be lifestylers (something they are- e.g. Free-spirited, hippies)  and a lesser portion would be integrators (a part of them but not something directly related with their sense of self and what they do). Most people who go to Burning Man, seem to want to do so because they are 1. Visual people -like seeing art and aesthetic beauty, 2. Free-minded and Liberal -don’t have any pre-conceived notions and are liberal minded, 3. Fantasy-Oriented -escape from reality, and move away from the norm). The community people say that it’s cathartic; it’s difficult not to reevaluate life and how one lives until one lives in the Burning Man lifestyle. It forces people to be creative and delve into the art world along with some idealism.

There is a sense of risk associated with the Burning Man, as one comes with a ticket that essentially says that he/she may die. It gives a person the opportunity to be truly self-sustaining and self-reliant and bring everything that he/she needs. However, it is also a place for self-expression and according to some participants ‘Burning Man’ is the ultimate expression of human catharsis. The reason this place seems so oddball is because it has no institutional cache attached to it. The idea of Burning Man is that when everybody is sharing, everybody has enough.

Goffman has a theory on the presentation of self, in which he describes social interaction and life, as if it is a performance. He also talks about saving face. This sociological concept by him , means the positive social value a person claims for himself. In Burning Man event and community, it would probably be a place where people are constantly performing but for themselves.  People are constantly shelving each other’s back, so there is a lot of “saving face”- The individuals are free to do whatever and not be judged, however there is definitely a possibility for arguments. I refuse to believe that this temporary society does not have any disputes. It could be interesting to see how these disputes are handled. In the terms and agreements of burning man, Black Rock City, LLC reserves the right, but has no obligation, to monitor disputes among the users.

Howard Becker talks about the social basis of a Drug-Induced experience. He states that when a user takes a drug, mainly a hallucinogen, they experience the world subjectively and it can induce or imitate psychosis. Drug related fatalities are actually fairly uncommon, it seems that most burners realize that wandering into the desert with a head full of LSD to have spiritual experience might not be as good of an idea as it sounds, and take necessary precautions. A Hong Kong fashion model was busted on felony drug charges at the Burning Man counterculture festival and crashed her rented motor home into Reno’s landmark arch.

It is interesting to see whether the people who join the community are attracted to the risk associated with Burning Man. There are people who are classed as “adrenalin junkies”. The “high” one get from dangerous or risky activities is similar to the high one would get from cocaine or amphetamine , only more so. The effect of these stimulants is to flood the brain with dopamine; an adrenaline high is similar. Burning Man itself is an adrenalin filled environment that could by itself recreate a drug-like psychedelic atmosphere. Also being surrounded by the desert heat definitely has a somatic response, affecting the brain (consciousness) in some way.

Berger states in his article “The Social Foundations of Human Experience” that that humans must interpret, define and endow their environment with meanings so as to respond to it effectively. For burners (people who go to Burning Man) life has set up an objective reality from birth, society is telling them what they should be from what they see. At Burning Man, this rule is broken, everyone is treated equally and it is a shared experience.  Any negative stereotypes placed upon the individual by society are removed at this annual art event. The focus is on unity not on individuality. However, the ironic aspect of this is, it’s also all about self-expression, which seems to be a very outward, projection of oneself or their independent thought. Burners want to stand out creatively but also fit in. In a certain sense, burners are walking contradictions.

Fine’s article discusses, social groups and culture creation. I believe that the hippy subculture has a collective identity and the scene that may bring them together is in fact, the event of “Burning Man”. The ritual of art and creation creates an emotional collectivity and a shared mood (Heider and Warner).

Originally imagined as an experiment in creating a utopia where the restrictions of modern life – the nine-to-five rat race, laws and confining societal norms – vanish, the event’s popularity and scope has now exceeded even the creators’ wildest dreams.

On a personal level I would love to immerse myself in the freedom and awe associated with the Burning Man experience and cope with the hardships of life. This in itself is like a spiritual experience where freedom and self-reliance are quite significant.

Consent from a coach’s perspective

Consent from a coach’s perspective

Sumedh Chatterjee

 

Consent. You’ve heard it before. What is it? Why does it matter?

Consent is permission for something to happen or about to happen. We either practice this, are afraid to ask for it or don’t want to bring it up at all. Now in a fairly liberal environment we understand consent if we have a basic moral compass. However, as far as teaching consent goes, the methodology is sometimes unappealing… especially because we’ve been socially conditioned into thinking about it in the wrong ways. Trigger warning here. Media imagery perpetuates rape by excusing it, validating myths about rape, and/or sexualizing rape. This issue is much more complicated on college campuses now than ever before. It’s about not drinking in excess and putting oneself in a situation where one cannot make conscious decisions. It’s about being honest with your intentions and speaking about it. The key is to be especially aware of how other people around you are feeling. That’s empathy. And this is a skill that’s not easy to learn. But that is why consent is such an important a topic in college campuses; it teaches us to have a dialogue between students and faculty.

So what exactly is the problem with asking for consent?

First, requesting for consent can include non-verbal cues such as body language. Yet it is also true that relying solely on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstanding. Second, the stereotype is that discussing consent is widely seen as awkward and likely to kill the mood. But if we keep saying consent is “hot,” “cool,” and “creative.” this dilemma can be partly resolved. Consent doesn’t have to “kill the mood”, we just need to find ways to express ourselves without limiting our sex appeal and courtesy. Third, those who have issues with consent don’t have alcohol abuse as the only problem but have problems with psychological well being and mental stability as well. Fourth, we are growing up in a culture that capitalizes on insecurities around dating and sex. Men are afraid of not escalating sexually with women while, women are insecure about not being desired and this becomes a vicious cycle. Fifth, men and women, in fact both often drink in excess in social situations only to become unable to control their libido and/or actions.

We can’t live in assumption regarding consent. Nor can we give-in to brainwashed norms. We need to break the stereotypes and have a discussion about this issue. Ultimately, women aren’t flesh-form antidepressants that exist to make men feel better about their own insecurities. And men aren’t sex-craved maniacs supposed to constantly show their courtesy to prove their chivalrous nature to validate themselves. Choice of clothing and attitude shouldn’t be perceived as “asking for it” or implying seduction. People often use choice of clothing and attitude and automatically assume it has to do with promiscuity. Attending the party and dressing scantily clad creates a misleading assumption to people. Dressing this way should not be considered provocative. Men are excused to show their skin, so why are women “asking for it” when they show more skin? There’s an evident double standard, that when a man who has more sexual partners he’s labeled an alpha male, but a woman is easy or even worse, (slutty). 

One of my friends was on the dance floor having a good time, however in the midst of dancing, a guy came up to my friend and stood there in front of her. He didn’t ask her to dance, he didn’t dance to assume they would be dancing; he physically used his larger, masculine body to invade this girls personal space. It was obvious he was already assuming sex. It was so obvious he was blinded by a misguided culture. She clearly said no multiple times. Now sure, one can say that no can mean “maybe later” or no can mean “some other time”, however this particular male had a reputation on campus. I knew this guy; he acted like my friend, always trying to build rapport with me. But he had problems. Problems beyond having a drinking problem. Now seeing this, I came up to him, reassuring him that “she said no, man” as polite as possible, not trying to start a fight for no reason or be labelled a white knight and never trying to challenge him in any way. He took this in the wrong way, belligerently drunk saying the most ironic statement ever “What’s WRONG with you man, what’s your PROBLEM?”. He walked off, my friend was okay, however, I didn’t feel so because I wasn’t the problem and I got verbally jousted for it. Nevertheless, I wasn’t trying to be a hero, but ended up being one. Here I motivate people to interfere in such situations. It shouldn’t be something that’s intimidating. It is easier to stay out of it. But as humans we should look out for each other as a community. When we see a dangerous situation, we shouldn’t hesitate to step in. Don’t just be a bystander.

Now, let’s discuss some other strategies as well.

What can we do about this? We need to make sure psychology services are adequately supportive not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators in campuses. We need students not to feel intimidated by asking for help. We need to have an open conversation with all of the stakeholders. It’s not that talk during a sexual encounter is inherently a turn-off — far from it. But there’s a big difference between sexy banter or endearments and mandatory checks to confirm you aren’t assaulting your partner. We need to make sure we are all on the same page.  We may require new laws for self protection of vulnerable students and abide by them.

There’s a solution to this kind of thinking and situations such as in the story above. Self-actualization- the desire for reaching one’s potential and creating self-awareness can be the way forward. Creating your identity. Finding out who you are. That is what college is about, right? The journey; creating a strong sense of self so we can handle uncomfortable situations such as the one above.

Ask yourself, who am I in this scenario? We are sometimes different people in all of the interactions we have with others. Why so? I ask you all to read about this, research, talk, socialize, and involve yourself as much as possible. Do something. I can’t coach all by myself. I need your help. As a perpetrator or aggressor or whatever you want to call it- just think- what you do, will not be undone. You will have to accept the consequences and will be labeled for your actions.

We need to change our mindsets; sex is about communication and exploration. Sex communication shouldn’t be a taboo and sex shouldn’t be a pressure. Not just intercourse but with touching and other types of physical escalation… even with clothes on. Consent must also be considered when invading personal boundaries. Without this exchange of awareness of the self and others, we feel awkward and perplexed in social situations. How can we handle ourselves? How can we ask for help? We need to reach out and help our peers, and we’re doing a pretty good job of it already. It’s working. We’re setting ourselves up so as not to worry about this but this problem still persists. But we have to start looking out and looking within to make it happen.

Now imagine a world, where everyone is effectively communicating. A world where people aren’t getting blackout drunk for escaping reality. A world where a woman’s voice is as strong as a man’s. A world where we are treating each other with respect and reciprocated pleasure. A world where consent is mutual. True, there will always be roadblocks. However, we can overcome these. There is a lot of talk about issues like this already but we need to further establish some rules. Not to say that consent should be policed but should be a part of education. It should be the default of human nature to give and get consent. We need to be proactive in thinking about consensual approaches. We need to think about the future of this planet and its safety. The psychological services in campuses worldwide need to be supportive to the cause. There is always room for improvement. Let’s take that chance and step forward, let’s celebrate consent and practice it too. Blessings.

The Artist as entrepreneur – A response

The Artist as entrepreneur – A response

Sumedh Chatterjee

Actors crave empowerment as much as the next person, but entrepreneurship
doesn’t necessarily correlate to success. Business-minded individuals have impulses
that can gain insight from an actor’s perspective and vice versa.

Artists give value to the work they do not however give that much importance to
marketing or promotion, which in my opinion is equally important for success.
Teaching artists self-empowerment is an important process, young artists should
learn the process of taking charge of their own careers. Some universities have
started something called an ‘Arts Enterprise’, which is a good idea. However, I feel
entrepreneurship is given more importance in bigger schools like Yale as opposed to
smaller ones. Entrepreneurship can be taught, however I feel art cannot. It is
something that you discover and experience for yourself. I don’t like how some
groups are merging creativity and entrepreneurship together as they are two very
different things (e.g. Oberlin college).

Teaching enterpreurship leads to maximizing creative opportunities more, however
maximizing profit is also important if you wish to pursue an artistic career path. I
also feel some universities have vague terms for their programs like “Center for New
Performance”. In theory, when you are having fun, “geeking out” (as Michael J Miller
calls it), creating your own work for yourself should be able to survive even if they
aren’t particularly business-minded.

I may argue to say that some actors aren’t “naturally entrepreneurial” as some may
just be drawn to theater as a hobby and not prospective merchandise. Nowadays, it
is said that “theater people” should have an industry-based background in business
training. I feel learning business definitely improves your chances of job success
however I feel it is not an essential component to being a good actor. I do support
creating cultural arenas and bringing third-world actors into the US to improve their
skills and receiving hands on experiences, since there are amazing actors (who may
also be Business students) abroad. I think in the end, making goals and falling
through with them is most important. If you get paid for what you love doing, it is the
best feeling in the world.

Transcendence, Peak Experiences and Passion.

Transcendence, Peak Experiences and Passion.

Sumedh Chatterjee

 

Transcendence is the idea of moving beyond – the mind, the self, beyond conventional paradigms. PSYCHOLOGY- translated from greek- psyche (spirit)– in the West, they translate it to the “mind”, ology just means the study of. Middle English: from Old French transcendre or Latin transcendere, from trans- ‘across’ + scandere ‘climb’. It’s an innate human need. Maslow started to research on this topic after the top of his hierarchy of needs, self-actualization. He claimed beyond the triangle was transcendence. A search for the sacred (holy, meaningful) which allows self-transcendence. The more we push our personal boundaries, we grow. However we have to do this in a healthy compassionate manner. There was a study in the United states showing that 69% percent of people had a pressing need for spiritual growth in their lives. Mental health and psychological well being (PWB) is strongly related with spirituality and religion (Hill and Pargament, 2003).

RELIGION improves wellbeing, how? By enhancing identity, creates a network of social support, and a clear theoretical framework to deal with existential questions ( Elliot and Hayward, 2007). The rise of secularism in the mid 1900s promoted a separation between spirituality and religion and acquired distinct connotations. Religion involves group validated organized means and methods for the search. A practicing relating to God.

RELIGION is the search for the sacred and the group validated means involved in the search. SPIRITUALITY is only the first element. Religion without spiritual element feels empty. ST (self-transcendence) is shifting our own perspectives, viewpoints, truths, and construal self, as well as extension of care, compassion and concern toward others. ST helped breast cancer, homeless people and allowed greater awareness of self-bias and motivations. Greater life satisfaction includes decreases in attachment. Self-boundaries helps greater self-acceptance (inward), reaching out to others and a connection with nature (outwards). With self-acceptance, everything changes, we become more. As a child, the potential accumulating rights, wrongs have a narrower version. As we grow up, we also grow we empathy (after about 11 years old). Our original self is boundless. Transcendence can be triggered by an outward connection, for example staring into the eyes of a child or baby or staring into the horizon, or feeling connected to nature.

A Peak Experience ( Zenith Experience), is a positive experience of spiritual awakening (Sharp, 2010). A peak experiences is essentially a gentle, spontaneous crown opening and as such may be viewed as a positive, but weak version of a Mystical Experience. According to Maslow, everyone is capable of having a peak experience (Maslow, 1962) and in fact most people, when asked, report having peak experiences either in adulthood or childhood. Keutzer (2007) reports that 80% of a sample of college students reported peak experiences and that these reports were independent of religious activity, age, or course level.

A Peak Experience is characterized by a sudden feeling of intense happiness, well-being, wonder, awe, loss of fear and defensiveness, and transcendent joy (Maslow, 1971). A peak experience sometimes includes a brief mystical experience such as the realization of ultimate truths like the unity of all things, the essential oneness of creation, the holiness of consciousness, or some such high level spiritual generalization. Davis, Lockwood and Wright (1991: 88) define a peak experience as follows. A peak experience is an experience that provides:

“…an almost overwhelming sense of pleasure, euphoria, or joy, a deep sense of peacefulness or tranquility, feeling in tune, in harmony, or at one with the universe, a sense of wonder or awe, altered perceptions of time and/or space, such as expansion, a feeling of deeper knowing or profound understanding, a deep feeling of love (for yourself, another, or all people), a greater awareness of beauty or appreciation, a sense that it would be difficult or impossible to describe adequately in words.”

There’s a type of happiness called Chaironic happiness. This links to transcendence. (Wong) states it as a scream of blessing,  independent of anything in your life. An example of this kind of happiness is like during an awakening or a sudden enlightenment or the serenity a monk feels during deep meditation.

PASSION is a strong inclination toward an activity that people like, find important and invest time and energy. There’s a scale that measures passion called the Passionate Love Scale in positive psychology. There is a dualistic approach to this- harmonious passion and obsessive passion, the latter being more disadvantageous to ones growth.  Under which circumstances were your passion internalized? Since passion is a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” it is a surprise to me that in harmonious passion, there’s a sense of control or autonomy over one’s passion. So go and search for something higher, live a passionate life, make your own rules, lean into your fearless spirituality and know how to transcend the self to breakdown your ego. Your narrow vision will slowly expand and it’ll push the boundaries to what you thought to be possible. Try and push for peak experiences and believe in yourself. See yourself as who you want to be.

 

Connecting with Creativity