As noted in the introduction to this booklet, the LP Connection Framework contains six focus points that, like electrical contact points, you need work on before stronger connection can occur. And do not kid yourself, this will require work. It will require healing work and it will require connection work, or Connection Practice as we prefer to say. If you don’t do the work, you won’t heal the damage and you won’t build the foundation for connection.
The first point in the LP Connection Framework, the first thing that you have to do when you begin your connection process is engage in a bit of authentic spiritual awakening. If you have read LP Workbook One, you will know that spiritual awakening involves drawing Consciousness into the physical unit.
Recall from LP Workbook One that the Water Glass Metaphor represents spiritual awakening in a visual manner.
Conceptually, we can think of spiritual awakening like walking into a dark room and turning on a light, or waking up from a deep sleep to observe the room you have been sleeping in. When you walk into a dark room, at first, you cannot see anything. Then, you turn on the light, and suddenly you see the entirety of the room. Similarly, when you are sleeping, you are oblivious to the realities of the room that surrounds you. You sleep. You dream. Things go on around you. However, when you wake up and open your eyes, suddenly, you see what is in the room.
What do you see in the room when you wake up. That depends. Sometimes what you see when you suddenly turn on the light or wake up is OK. Sometimes it is just a little mess. However, sometimes the room can look like it has been hit by a bomb. Indeed, sometimes what you see can be quite the shock.
It is exactly like this with spiritual awakening. When you draw Consciousness into the body, it is like turning a light on in a dark room, or waking up from a deep sleep to suddenly see what is going on around you, or turning on a light to see the reality around you. Sometimes this can be OK, but sometimes what you see can be disconcerting, shocking, or even horrifying. What you see depends on what’s been going on while the lights have been off and you have been fast asleep.
How do you wake up in the morning? How do you turn on a light? As with everything that you do in your life, you turn on a light, wake up in the morning, or initiate spiritual awakening with wilful intent. When you wish to wake up, you intend to wake up. The awakening intent can be formulated into an Awakening Affirmation, like this…
- I wish to wake up
- I wish to gain enlightenment
- I wish consciousness to descend into the vessel.
- I wish to move forward as fast and as safely as possible.
- I wish only the highest information for greatest collective good of all of creation.
The concept of awakening to the realities around you by turning on the light of your higher Consciousness, and the actual initiation of that awakening through intention and an affirmation is simple. That is, it is easy to start the awakening process using a simple affirmation. However, the experience of awakening itself is not simple at all, nor is it always a positive, light-filled, angels singing, crystal song sort of affair. It can be, at times, very positive; but awakening can cause a lot of emotional and psychological consternation as well, especially when combined with a powerful Connection Event.1 In rare cases, where there is a lot of damage to the Bodily Ego,2 i.e. where there is lots of repressed guilt and shame, or where there is addiction and mental or emotional disorder, awakening can be extremely challenging. In rare cases, awakening can even tip you over the edge into despair, neurosis, and even paranoid psychosis, as the followers of Q3 can aptly attest.
Your Experience of Awakening
For your information, whether you experience awakening in a positive or negative fashion depends on two things. It depends, for one, on the condition of “the room” you are waking up in. It also depends on your own mental and emotional condition, your own internal state. To be clear, any clutter and toxicity in the room, any damage you may have experienced while enduring the Toxic Socialization process we all go through, will impact your awakening process. Clutter and toxicity in the room, and damage from toxic socialization, will make it harder and it will increase the likelihood that you will become confused, or be led astray.
Let us briefly look at these two factors in turn, starting with the condition of the room.
As regards the condition of the room, the best situation to wake up in is when the room is ordered, clean, and tidy. What does that mean? Just that. When you wake up in the morning, this means you wake up in a room that is relatively tidy and free from toxicity and chaos. If you wake up in a room like that, you can get up, go brush your teeth, and get on with the business of wakening up. On the other hand, if your room has been hit by a bomb, if the floor is so cluttered with junk that you cannot even get to the bathroom, then before you get on with your day, you have to clean up, at least a little bit.
It is the same for spiritual awakening. Spiritual awakening in a clean and tidy reality means you are waking up in a healthy environment with minimal toxicity, abuse, ideology, resistance, neurosis, and pathology. When the room of your life is ordered, clean, and tidy, you get on with the business of waking up with no troubles. When you wake up in a healthy (or healthier) environment, awakening proceeds in a fluid and easy to ground manner which makes it easy to integrate the events we experience. When you spiritually awaken in a clean and tidy room, you can skip past all the preliminary work of detoxifying your environment and healing the damage done (see LP Workbook Two: Healing), and you can get past all the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, distractions that keep you confused. When you wake up in a good environment, you can get down to the business of atonement, alignment, activation and all the other things you have to do to pave the way for increased levels of Consciousness in your body.
If, on the other hand, the room you are waking up in is a mess, then things can get a little complicated, intellectually, emotionally, and spirituality. In fact, as already noted, in bad situations, when the room is a toxic pile of ignorance, ideology, and abuse, there is even a chance of mental and emotional breakdown.
What happens when you wake up and find the room is a mess? If the mess is not handled properly, the answer is disconnection—in other words, you turn off the light and go back to sleep. If you do not want to be pushed back into the grey somnambulism of Normal Consciousness, or worse, then there are a few things to watch out for.
Going Back to Sleep
Number one, watch out for the desire to just go back to sleep. When you start to awaken and you find your room is a big mess, your first response might be to turn off the light, go back to sleep, and try and forget what you saw. You might do this for several different reasons, including (but not limited to) internal resistance, external resistance, and the overwhelming enormity of the mess.
Internal resistance is resistance to awakening caused by your own confusion, guilt, shame, greed, or other negative emotion that is triggered by what you see, or what you have done, in the room. For example, it is possible to wake up and be startled, even shocked and confused by the world you see around you. This is a particular problem in this modern world. For example, if you are a parent and you have been abusing your children, then waking up to the reality of that might cause you painful guilt and shame. In order to not feel that guilt and shame, you may decide to simply turn off the light, close your eyes, and go back to sleep, pretending it’s “just not that bad” or that the abusive practices toughens them up, or whatever. Or, maybe you wake up in a room where you find your spouse is harming others. Rather than confront that and “lose everything,” you may decide to compromise and return to somnambulist acceptance.
External Resistance is resistance from family and friends who, even despite being presented with the truth, do not want to be made aware of the truths of your mutual realities. For example, if your spouse is abusing your children and you wake up and suddenly realize this and confront them, your spouse may resist your awakening out of guilt, shame, fear of punishment, or even a simple lack of will to change. They may become angry, even hostile. The may cajole or even threaten. They do this so they do not have to admit their behaviour, so you will quit confronting them with reality, and so you will go back to sleep. They do this because it is to their emotional, psychological, political, even financial advantage that you stay asleep.
Of course, it is not just your spouse who may resist. Other family members, friends, and even workplace colleagues may resist if they feel threatened by your awakening. If you experience a lot of resistance from people (friends, family, etc.), this may be because your awakening threatens their complacency, their way of life, or their positive sense of self. Maybe your awakening is pushing them to change their eating habits. Maybe your awakening is causing them to feel bad about their consumerism, or their past actions. Maybe your dad thinks he was a great dad despite his violence and abuse. You can see the problem; your awakening may push them to change their thinking or change their behaviour in ways they do not, for whatever reason, want to do. Your awakening may expose them as “not as good” as they thought they were.
This resistance, both internal and external, can be a problem for the person who wants to heal and connect. If your awakening threatens others, and if you experience a lot of external resistance as a consequence, you may consciously or unconsciously decide it is just too much to deal with, and just let it be.
The Overwhelming Enormity of the Mess. Sometimes it is not your own guilt and shame that causes you to shut down and withdraw from awakening. Sometimes it is not even the resistance from others who would rather you stay blissfully ignorant. Sometimes when you start to wake up you can simply be overwhelmed by the enormity of the mess. Given the state of this world, and the state of many of our lives, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the work involved in cleaning it up.
Consider, for example, your own misaligned behaviours. Consider the guilt and shame you might experience if when you wake up, you wake up to the fact that you have psychologically, emotionally, physically, sexually, or spiritually abused your spouse, children, or whatever. Imagine the horror you might feel as you realize the extent of the damage you have caused. Imagine that in this situation, the work of understanding, accepting, and cleaning it all up is so overwhelming that you think that you cannot possibly do it, and just throw up your hands and go back to sleep.
Of course, waking up to your own bad behaviours and the consequences of these is not the only thing that might challenge you and make you want to go back to sleep. Consider the situation where you wake up to the reality that others in your family have created huge messes. For example, perhaps there exists a sexual predator in your family or friend group. Unlike waking up to a family that is healthy and whole, waking up to that particular reality is unpleasant, especially if you or one of your children has been assaulted, or you are one of the adults who will have to deal with it. There is a gargantuan amount of work involved in stopping a sexual predator and healing victims from any trauma. Even if you personally are OK with the work, you may experience intense resistance from other members of your family who are more comfortable in somnambulistic avoidance. Waking up is a big challenge and a lot of work, and you and your family may prefer to go back to sleep rather than deal with the train wreck itself.
And of course, all this applies not only to your home environment, but to your school, church, workplace, state, economy, and social environments as well. The truth is, as you wake up, you will also become more aware of toxicities and problems at your workplace, in your society, and all across the planet. Depending on how deep your previous sleep was, the whole thing can be one long and disturbing shock to your system. It is unfortunate that it is like this, but it is what it is. Just like waking up in the morning forces you to confront the mess in the room you have been sleeping in, spiritually awakening forces you to confront the reality that you have been living in. If the reality is clean and tidy, if the reality is positive and aligned, no problem; however, if it is a massive mess, your awakening experience might be so unpleasant, and you may be so overwhelmed by internal resistance, external resistance, and the enormity of the mess that you will shut down and gradually pass back into normal consciousness.
Going back to sleep and ending your journey because you do not want to deal with the mess is an option, but a disappointing one.
Mental and emotional condition
As noted, awakening can be a challenge when the room you are waking up in is a mess. In that case, you can experience internal resistance, external resistance, or can simply become overwhelmed by the mess. Awakening can also be a challenge if you struggle with emotional and psychological damage caused by a violent, neglectful, and toxic socialization process. If you are mentally or emotionally damaged, and the truth is, all of us experience some damage because of the toxic socialization process we endure, the process of awakening (indeed all points in the connection process, like atonement, activation, etc.) can become much more difficult, for lots of different reasons.
For example, if your psychologically abusive parents or some abusive teacher have damaged your bodily ego, you may struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. These feelings of low self-worth can cause you to cast doubt on your own abilities to heal and grow into a healthy and fully connected human being. They may make you shy away from the process because you feel you are “not worthy.” Low self-worth may also lead you to accept abusive situations because you feel you do not deserve better,4 thereby leading to more damage. Low self-worth will also make other focus points in the connection framework harder to accomplish, like being accountable, or activating and taking action to align and clean your world (and the world). Without a certain degree of self-confidence, you might awaken and see a messy room, but not feel confident enough or strong enough to tackle the mess, or go against the resistance of other people. As a result, you might go straight back to sleep.
If you think you might have low self-esteem, you can test your self-esteem using the self-esteem scale provided on the Workbook Three Exercises page on the LP main site.5 If you do find you are a little on the low side of the self-esteem scale, you can do an Internet search for “how to improve self-esteem” or something similar, to find guidance and advice on how to make important improvements.
Powerlessness, Depression, and Learned Helplessness
Low self-esteem caused by the damage of toxic socialization is not the only psychological issue that can undermine your ability to awaken to the realities around you. Years of living in a toxic and oppressive home and workspaces that you have no control over may leave you feeling depressed, disempowered, demotivated, and helpless. Years of living in toxic spaces may lead to the development of an attitude of hopelessness. You may come to believe that nothing you do or say can make any difference at all. Psychologists call this psychological state Learned Helplessness.6
When in a state of learned helplessness, you may not feel motivated to make necessary changes. You may be impotent and unmoving, powerless even in the face of relatively minor messes. That impotence will weigh on you and make it harder for you to take necessary actions. Put that together with lack of self-confidence and the guilt and shame that rises from unaligned actions (more on this in the next unit), and going back to sleep might seem like the best (and only) thing to do.
If you do think you may have learned to be helpless as a consequence of chronic toxicity, you can do an Internet search for “how to overcome learned helplessness.” A general guideline is to find a thing that you know you can do, and learn to do new things. Mastery of skills, relationships, and so on can help you build self-esteem and self-efficacy. This is very important as you awaken and move forward especially since, as we’ll see in subsequent units, it’s not enough to just wake up and see, you also have to take action to change. If you are learned helpless, the idea of making change may be overwhelming, and you may just go back to sleep.
Anger and Mistrust
Low self-esteem and learned helplessness caused by toxicity in your childhood and adult environments can stop your awakening and connection process before it ever gets started, but so can anger and mistrust. Anger is a natural emotion. Anger is the sign of a boundary violation. If I stand before you and step on your toes (a violation of your physical boundaries) or if I insult you and call you names (a violation of your psychological boundaries), you will naturally get angry. The anger helps motivate you to shove me away in order to stop my abuse. However, sometimes anger goes unexpressed. If I am more powerful than you, if I am a bully, your anger may cause me to become even more abusive. If that happens, you will quickly learn to repress your anger to avoid further harm. If you do that, the anger does not go away, it just becomes sublimated7 (i.e. redirected) or internalized.8 Once sublimated or internalized, your anger can develop into mistrust of others and even hatred.
Years of being subject to mistreatment and abuse may leave you angry and distrustful of the world around you. Your anger and inability to trust may lead you to do things, or not do things, that undermine your ability to heal, awaken, and connect. For example, I dealt with one individual once who, after years of being abused by family, parents, and healing professions like psychiatrists and doctors, was so angry and mistrustful that they simply could not trust any advice, professional or not, nor make any positive healing decisions. They were locked in toxic patterns of behaviour and unable to break free because they trusted no one but themselves. Their anger and hatred made it quite difficult for them to move forward, since they never trusted enough to put into practice any advice they were being given. They were stuck and spinning their wheels.
Anger and mistrust may undermine you in other ways as well, especially if your anger has never been properly expressed. For example, repressed anger and mistrust can prime you to follow spiritual ideas and conspiracy theories that allow and even encourage you to express your anger and hatred towards others. If you are filled with repressed anger and hatred, for whatever reason, you may gravitate towards political or spiritual ideas that allow you to express that anger and hatred. The Christian notion of good and evil is a case in point. This belief allows you to express hatred towards those you or others (like politicians) define as evil. Conspiracy theories about lizard people, or shadowy figures like Q, fall in the same category. These beliefs, which, as you will see when we begin to explore archetypes and ideology in more detail in LP Workbook Four: Archetypes are nothing more than propaganda, and are designed to pit us against each other. These ideas give you a “path of sublimation,” a place to put your unresolved anger and hatred. They give you the license you need to express your anger and hatred without thinking that you are doing something wrong.
It can be satisfying that is true, but obviously, it should go without saying that anger and hatred have nothing to do with authentic spirituality. Authentic spirituality is about love, compassion, connection, and uplifting all of creation, and not assigning privilege to a certain colour, class, or gender while hating and vilifying others. Nevertheless, repressed and unrequited anger may make you susceptible to deception and untruth, especially when these deceptions give you the license to lash out. Word to the wise, if your beliefs are inciting your anger and leading you to lash out in violence, anger, and hate, your beliefs are unaligned with the truths of higher Consciousness.
Low self-esteem, learned helplessness, and anger/hatred are just a few of the psychic infections that can interfere with your awakening process.
What sort of mental and emotional damage might you have experienced as part of your toxic socialization? How might this damage impede your awakening and connection process? That is for you to determine as you work through the healing and connection process. The point here is not to go into detail about that. We do that in the previous Workbook Two, and in future resources as well; the point is to make you aware that psychological and emotional damage makes awakening a lot harder, especially at the beginning. Be hopeful, though. Even little steps forward can make a big difference. Also, keep in mind, this is an iterative process. You do not heal so you can connect; you heal and you connect. As you progress on your healing journey, awakening becomes easier. Similarly, as you progress on your awakening journey, healing gets easier as well. If you are serious about forward progress, just stay disciplined. Study and practice (say your affirmations, engage in a little mindfulness, use a connection supplement) a little every day. You will only fail in this process when you stop trying.
Hitting the Snooze Button – Invoking ARMs
If you are overwhelmed by the mess of the room, if you find that psychological and emotional damage, resistance, or whatever, makes moving forward with connection difficult, and if, as a result, you turn off the light and go back to sleep, you are engaged in a pathological repression of awareness and connection. There is no point in denying this. If you do this, you are not waking up, you are going back to sleep. It is exactly the same as turning off the light and going back to sleep in the morning. If you do that, you are reducing awareness and going back to sleep. Awakening means awareness, period. There is no point in pretending otherwise. Suppressing your awareness of reality and what is going on around you and going back to sleep halts both the healing and the connection process. When this occurs, in you or in others, it is often a sign of deep pathology in the individual, their family, and possibly their work and friendship environments.
So how can you tell if you are going back to sleep? Since humans have a well-developed capacity for self-delusion and make-believe (i.e. we have the power to fool ourselves easily), figuring that out can be a bit of a challenge. It is very easy for us to delude ourselves. Still, it can be done. We humans have what we on the LP call Awareness Reduction Mechanisms (ARMs). ARMs are psychological/behavioural patterns deployed by the bodily ego to help reduce emotional pain, anxiety, anger, sadness, and other strong emotions caused by the recall of trauma or the presence of disjuncture. Awareness Reduction Mechanisms can range everywhere from raw acts of repression where we simply forget or refuse to see, to more subtle forms of awareness reduction, like projection and intellectualization. Awareness reduction mechanisms are important and deserve serious consideration. The most self-deluded and somnambulist individual in the world can believe themselves “woke” with the help of an ARM or two.
Getting to know your ARMs
One of the things you should do if you are serious about waking up is scan for your use of ARMs. You need to do that because these are subtle, powerful, and common. To scan for the use of ARMS, learn the various ARMs and then engage in some self-reflection. It can also be helpful to ask others (your partner, your children, your therapist, etc.) to see if they can detect their presence.
There are quite a few ARMs to deal with, and sorting them out can be complex. We’ll discuss a few of the more common ARMS below. Read through those and engage in a little self-reflection. It will help if you do a little awakening affirmation like “I wish to be made aware of my defences” or “I want to know the truth about myself and my family,” or something like that. If you are interested in going a little deeper into the psychology of ARMs, read the lesson “A Deeper Look at Defence Mechanisms”9 on the LP site.
The first ARM we will discuss is repression. Repression is the basic awareness reduction mechanism your body uses to suppress awareness. Repression is simply the forced submersion of a thought, action, or event. Repression is a simple, neurologically-based refusal to recall something that happened to you, something that you did, or some thoughts that you might think. Repression is initiated to avoid the stress, anxiety, and emotional pain (anguish, guilt, shame, sadness, etc.) that recall might bring. The more pain a remembering brings, the stronger the tendency and push to repress.
It is hard to know if you are repressing something because, well, you do not remember it, so how can you know. People can go through their whole life not remembering things they do not want to remember, especially if they arrange their lives just right. However, repression is usually not practised all by itself. Life is complicated and things that you do not want to remember or think about can be easily triggered by thoughts, events, situations, books, movies, and even other people challenging you in some way. For example, a pedophile who sexually assaulted their daughter might repress memories, but a discussion at work, or a movie on the television, can threaten to bring uncomfortable memories to the surface. Life brings lots of opportunities and challenges to remember. When sheer forgetting fails, other Secondary Awareness Reduction Mechanisms are invoked in order to reinforce the repressive effort. The presence of these secondary ARMS is a sign that you or someone you know is repressing something. If you see a secondary ARM in operation, you would be wise to sit back and reflect.
So what secondary other ARMs are invoked when repression starts to fail? Number one on our list is Denial. Denial, not a river in Egypt, is the simple verbal refusal to accept reality as it is. Denial is often invoked when there is an external challenge to remember. When somebody comes up to you and says, “Hey, do you remember doing this,” your defensive response might be to deny so you do not have to admit and recall. For example, my mom beat me with a wooden spoon and leather belts when I was a child, but when I recalled these events and challenged her as an adult, she denied she ever did it, presumably to prevent feeling bad about some of her actions. She denies it to this day, saying she thought she was a good mother. Similarly, if you challenge a CEO for cheating in order to not pay taxes, that CEO may deny that they are doing that at all, as Tim Cook did when the U.S. Senate questioned him on his company’s use offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying billions in taxes.10
Of course, sometimes repression and denial are not enough. People can keep pressing. When I pressed my mom and told her I absolutely remember the beatings, she then tried to rationalize her behaviour. Rationalization occurs when we justify and make excuses for things we have done, or things we have experienced. Rationalization is a common defence response when people are being asked to remember and acknowledge their behaviour. It happens in domestic life and in the corporate world. In addition to denying, Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, made excuses for his company’s tax avoidance. He rationalized his companies practices, saying things like “we pay all the taxes we owe” and that they have always done it that way. Similarly, parents who abuse their children and who find, as the children grow up, simple denial ineffective will make excuses and come up with rationalizations. They will say, “I did the best I could” or you were a “difficult” child or whatever. The excuses that people come up with are legion.
Recall that ARMs are invoked to handle the pain and anguish of disjuncture and trauma. You can rationalize your own trauma to yourself. When you do that, it helps you put the memories back on the shelf. Rather than remember and process the full painful trauma of an abusive childhood, for example, adults will tell themselves things like their toxic experiences made them stronger, or built up their character, or made them what they are today. When we rationalize our own trauma, we give ourselves the power to press the memories back down so we don’t have to experience and deal with the pain. Of course, doing that does not solve any of your issues. If you want to properly process and heal, you have to remember and process the trauma. There is no other way. 11
Besides repression, denial, and rationalization, a person trying to avoid remembering something painful can also divert and distract. When we divert and distract, we point attention away from the things we do not want to remember, and towards something entirely different. For example, kids or other adults may be talking about child abuse, but a guilty parent or childcare worker, in order to head off a conversation that might eventually lead to a discussion of their abusive practices, might distract with ice cream and cookies. Or, a father who sexually abuses his children might use distraction (i.e., a trip to Disney World) to shift attention from the behaviour, encourage his children to forget, and repress his awareness of the act. Similarly, a politician that points at the evil “over there” may be distracting from the evil that they do every day. Distraction is quite common, of course, and we are exposed to it every day.
Distraction is a form of Isolation or, as we say on the LP, Informational Positioning. Isolation or informational positioning is a cognitive process involving the creation of a gap between an unpleasant or threatening cognition or memory, and other thoughts, feelings, and anything that can trigger a memory. Isolation works with the associative pathways of memory. We remember “less often” by minimizing associative connections.
Isolation is in operation when a person who begins a train of thought suddenly switches gears because the thoughts are getting to “close” and potentially triggering memories of, for example, sexual assault. For example, an individual may start off thinking about a childhood trip, but suddenly change the subject when the recall of that trip gets too close to a painful memory. An individual may also avoid thinking about certain topics, and avoid certain situations or people in their life, as way to avoid associations that might trigger painful trauma or disjuncture.
Intellectualization is a form of informational positioning in which one concentrates on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself emotionally. For example, an individual who has experienced sexual assault seeks information on other cases and the psychology of rapists and victims. The individual takes self-defence classes in order to feel safer rather than directly addressing the psychological and emotional issues. Or, a pedophile having sex with 12-year-old intellectualizes by showing statistics that children legally marry adult men in some cultures.
Another form of informational positioning is compartmentalization. Compartmentalization is also an ARM. Compartmentalization involves breaking up your life into discrete, disconnected pieces. For example, you never talk about what goes on at work at home, and vice versa. When you come home at night, you block out exploitation and abuse you perpetrate at work. When you go to work in the morning, you block out awareness of the violence in the home. When you go to Church, you do not think about the hypocrisies in your daily life. Compartmentalization makes it all easier to contain. Repeated compartmentalization reduces neurological connections and makes repression easier over time.
Another form of information positioning is Social Comparison. Social comparison involves comparing ourselves to others whom we try to believe are worse off. In this case, we repress the full extent of our trauma and the damage it caused by saying, “my trauma wasn’t that bad, others had it a lot worse.” When we compare ourselves to others, we are attempting to minimize awareness of the damage so we don’t have to deal with it. “Sure, I was abused as a child,” we will tell ourselves, “but I knew people who really had it bad.”
Social comparison is an attempt to reinforce repression; however, sometimes it also arises from a good faith belief that, when compared to others, we didn’t really have it that bad. For many, this seems like a reasonable and rational conclusion. Why worry about the little things that happened to you when so many people had it so much worse. Unfortunately, as rationale as this might sound, it is not a healthy perspective. Damage you incurred, and damage you inflicted, is damage, period. Even minor trauma can have a lasting negative impact on you. If you want to move forward, heal, and connect, never minimize your own trauma or the abuse you inflicted on others by comparing to those who had it worse off. Instead, focus on the reality itself.
Denial, rationalization, and the various forms of informational positioning are all secondary ARMs. They are secondary because they directly reinforce repression, which is all about awareness reduction. Secondary ARMs are the most “healthy” ARMs that we have, in the sense that they involve the least amount of deception and distortion of self and reality. However, these lightweight defence mechanisms are often not enough to suppress the pain of trauma and disjuncture, and sometimes we need to bring in the big guns, what we would call Tertiary Awareness Reduction Mechanisms, like distortion, projection, and reaction formation, to get the job done. We call these ARMs tertiary because they are a) extensions, elaborations, and combinations of secondary arms and b) because they increasingly create a distortion of self and a direct break with reality. Because these ARMs involve direction distortions of self and reality, they are more powerful, more coordinated, and more focused attempts to force reduction of awareness. They are also more pathological because when people start to use these, they begin to divorce from their realities.
Distortion is the first tertiary ARM we will look at. Distortion involves the deceptive reshaping of reality. When we distort things, we make them appear like something they are not. Distortion is an extension of denial and rationalization, often with a dose of intellectualization thrown in for good measure. When we deny the truth, rationalize, and make excuses, we are attempting to distort our perception of reality.
A good example of intellectual distortion is the common cultural trope “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This trope basically sends the message that abuse and trauma are good for you because they build strength and character, and make you a better person. People invoke this trope every time their attention is drawn to the abuse and trauma they endured, or that they inflicted upon others. How many people do you know tell you that the abuse they experienced at home “builds character” or made them who they are? How many parents have you heard say that assaulting (i.e. spanking, disciplining, etc.) their children strengthens them and prepares them for life in the real world?
When individuals invoke this trope, they are trying to distort reality, because the trope is simply not true. There is lots of evidence to indicate even minor psychological trauma can cause serious, lasting damage. Major events like sexual assault do horrific damage. But, if you believe the cultural trope “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” you can distort your perception of reality and repress your burgeoning awareness of trauma and disjuncture by pretending that the damage you see, or that you cause, builds character and strength. Distortion helps you “not worry about it” so you can go have a happy drink with your boys or a yummy glass of wine with the girls. It is easier to forget and pretend if you can convince yourself that what happened to you, or what you did to others, isn’t that bad after all.
Sometimes our distortions are primarily intellectual. We make arguments, we intellectualize, we distract, we rationalize and so on in order to change the way we think about things, so we can keep from remembering and thus avoid the pain of trauma of disjuncture. However, sometimes our distortions do not stop in the brain. Sometimes we engage in a more active, externalized effort to distort reality by changing reality itself. When we try to distort by changing reality itself, it is called Reaction Formation. When we engage in reaction formation, we engage in opposite or contrasting behaviour in order to reinforce a reduced awareness. We present a false image of ourselves and our reality to the world to convince ourselves and others we are something that we are not.
The classic example of reaction formation is the abusive and toxic family that spends all its time cleaning, shining, primping, and performing in order to make their house, yard, and life look perfect so they can appear like a healthy, functional family. A family such as this one may be ignorant, abusive, controlling, and violent, yet the family tries to distort the views of others by acting in a way exactly opposite of reality. A perfectly clean house, a perfectly manicured yard, perfectly dressed children, and perfect smiles all help cover the toxic reality beneath. The presentation and performances all distort reality and help to reinforce repression by reinforcing the family’s own self-delusions, and by preventing challenge from the outside world. Outsiders who see the “perfect” family are unlikely to think untoward about the family and unlikely to challenge the family’s repression.
Another example of reaction formation is the gay priest who has been made to feel intense guilt and shame over their homosexuality, and thus becomes virulently homophobic just to make sure nobody ever thinks he is gay. This could also be the bad parent who becomes the local Girl Scout troupe leader just to distract from her own abuse by building the image for herself and for others that she is good with kids.
Distortion and reaction formation are increasingly pathological and increasingly violent defence mechanisms. They are pathological because they increasingly detach an individual from reality. They are violent because they increasingly involve others in efforts to repress. A gay priest that becomes homophobic in order to deny, distort, and repress isn’t just trying to repress his awareness and isn’t just harming himself, he is also trying to modify awareness and reality of others, with sometimes disastrous results. A priest that pounds the homophobic pulpit in order to defend against awareness of homosexuality encourages, by virtue of their status as spiritual authority, parents and teachers of gay children to punish and assault them, rather than accept and love them. This can lead to chronic family abuse and significant harm to children, even to the point of self-harm and suicide. Distortion and reaction formation are not, in other words, victimless crimes. They impact the individual and others as well.
It is worthwhile noting that people who are engaged in reaction formation are deeply traumatized and afraid. Their fear at being “outed,” the fear that somebody may realize the truth about their toxic family, their queer sexuality, their abusive history, or whatever, and the anguish, shame, and pain that would result from that awareness, leads them to interfere with reality with increasing desperation.
Like distortion and reaction formation, Sublimation is a tertiary defence mechanism. Sublimation involves the transformation of unwanted ideas, emotions, and memories onto an alternative target. For example, an individual angry over sexual assault and unable to properly express/resolve that anger might become a professional boxer in order to gain release. Or, an individual shamed about their sexual urges repress these urges and devotes their attention to artistic pursuits. Note that disjuncture can also be handled with sublimation. You may have a desire to cheat on your partner, but instead, you focus your attention on other pursuits, like your car, or fashion.
Sublimation may not seem like a serious ARM to begin with. What is wrong with sublimating emotions into a successful boxing career so you do not have to deal with them? For one, sublimation involves repression of root causes. If you get into boxing in order to deal with the anger you have for your parents, you are not dealing with the root causes. In this case, the anger won’t go away. It will persist and potentially do neurological and psychological damage. Similarly, avoiding cheating on your partner by sublimating your urges doesn’t deal with the root issues, which may be problems in your partnership. Perhaps there are communication issues, or whatever. If you sublimate your emotions and do something else, you will not be dealing with the problems. If you do not deal with the problems, they will eventually get worse. It is the same with repressed emotions from childhood or adolescent trauma. You can pretend the emotions are not there, but they do not go away. Chronic sublimation, like all forms of awareness reduction, will eventually cause other problems, like ill health, broken relationships, neurosis, and even psychosis.
Sublimation is a form of projection. Projection also involves a redirection and distortion of reality and self, a redirection of emotions, thoughts, and actions, but in this case, we project our trauma and disjuncture onto others. Projection is an ARM whereby we reduce awareness of things we find unacceptable in ourselves by focusing our attention on these characteristics in others. For example, an individual angry over sexual assault, but unable to properly express and feeling guilty about feeling angry may project that anger onto others, seeing others as angry and hateful, rather than owning their own emotions.
Or, an abusive spouse may, when confronted with that abuse, project onto the other person. If my partner comes up to me and says that my actions are abusive, I may project onto her and say, “Ya, but you’re abusive as well.” I may rationalize and divert attention from my own abusive behaviours by “digging up” things she has done in the past. Digging up things she did to me in the past allows me to rationalize and deny my current behaviour, and divert attention to hers. When I do this, it is because I am feeling shameful and guilty over my actions, and I do not want to admit it to myself, or her. Of course, if I do this, I’m not dealing with my own disjunctive actions. If I am not dealing with my disjunctive actions, my guilt and shame will just grow deep inside me.
Projection is a common tactic used in arguments with intimate partners and other family members. When families are trying to discuss issues, projections often end up flying back and forth like arrows in an epic battle. It is not hard to understand why projection is such a common ARM in families. Parents, and later their adolescent and adult children, use copious quantities of guilt and shame to control behaviour. Children and adolescents who are subjected to this learn to deny, distort, react, sublimate, and project just so they do not have to deal with guilt and shame. For example, my mother used guilt and shame all the time, whenever I did something she thought was wrong. My mother used to make my brother and I stand in a corner for long periods, just to make sure.12
Understand, guilt and shame are painful, and for a child, especially so. As a child, being shamed did not teach me to never make mistakes. Humans are always making mistakes so eliminating mistakes is impossible. Instead, being shamed as a child taught me never admit my mistakes. Nobody wants to feel guilt and shame and so we deny, distort, react, sublimate, and project so we do not have to. The use of all ARMs is particularly prominent in families, even those you might consider “healthy,” because within families is where guilt and shame are deployed the most freely. When you think about it, it is your parents, and later your siblings, that treat you the worst. Many parents still hit their kids and few think twice about screaming and invoking shame. When we punished for making mistakes, we learn never to admit them.
Displacement is another tertiary ARM that distorts reality. Displacement is similar to projection in that we are shifting attention from our thoughts, behaviours, and actions, but in this case, we are shifting our negative emotions and behaviours from a risky target to a less risky one. For example, I had an issue with women for a long time because of the abuse my mother heaped upon me. I could never challenge my mother as a child or adolescent because if I did, the abuse became much worse. As a child, I learned that if I got angry with my mother, it was best if I just kept it to myself. My mother shut my anger at her abuse down, but it did not go away. For many years I displaced it towards other women who were “safer” targets. I did this until I finally became aware of what I was doing, being angry at all women because I couldn’t be angry with mom. Finally realizing my anger, and also realizing its roots, allowed me to instantly release that anger and transform my irrational fear. I say irrational because as an adult, I knew my mother couldn’t harm me anymore. Unfortunately, I was still operating with my childhood fear. When I realized, I released anger and fear and was able to move forward in a more authentic space.
Finally, we have gaslighting. Gaslighting is a sophisticated tertiary ARM. It is a form of distortion whereby an individual, in an effort to suppress challenge and awareness, engages in a direct assault on the thoughts and ideas of a “target” individual or group in order to change that individual’s thinking and undermine their confidence in self and their understanding of reality. Gaslighting is less about one’s own delusions and more about an attempt to directly control the awareness of others.
The goal of gaslighting assault is to undermine awareness of a specific issue, like domestic abuse, by undermining the self-confidence of the individual, specifically their confidence in their own ability to see and judge for themselves the truth. The gaslighter may use any combination of secondary or tertiary defence mechanisms to engage in this frontal assault. For example, an abusive spouse might deny their abuse and reinforce their denial by telling the partner who is complaining that “it is all in your head.” The abusive individual may also project their own abuse onto the victims, and others. When challenged by the victim, they may point out the victim’s own actions as abusive in order to try and convince the victim that they are the problem, or that they “deserve” the abuse. The abuser may also react by converting their abuse to its opposite, by buying flowers or doing highly visible “nice things.” Converting their actions allows them able to rationalize and distract by saying to their partner and their partner’s family and friends, “What are you talking about? I’m a loving and thoughtful spouse.”
We could spend a lot of time on gaslight because there is really no end to the creative ways a gaslighter can come up with to undermine the self-confidence of the individual. And that is the goal. When an individual victim of abuse can be made to doubt their own two eyes, when they are taught to doubt the reality of their situation, they are less likely to say anything, and more likely to repress their own understanding and adopt of delusional view. When an individual is gaslighted, the perpetrator is trying to make the individual question their memory, perception, and judgment of the situation. This works for the gaslighter because they no longer have to admit to something they may not want to admit to.
Gaslighting is typically understood in the mainstream simply as a tactic in which a person or entity tries to gain more power.13 This is certainly true, but the question for the woke is, power to do what? In all cases, a gaslighter seeks power to control the thinking and behaviour of a target in order to suppress awareness. The gaslighting spouse is trying to control his partner’s awareness and understanding of abuse so the partner does not go to the police and split the relationship for good. The gaslighting corporate CEO does it for the same reason, to ensure people question themselves and not their corporate malfeasance.
Gaslighting in an extremely toxic defence mechanism that indicates serious psychological and emotional damage. Gaslighting is a direct psychic assault that hurts you, hurts the target, and pathologically disconnects you from reality.
You might think that gaslighting is the pinnacle awareness reduction mechanisms. However, the human mind is an incredibly powerful instrument for the creation and manipulation of reality. When secondary and tertiary defence mechanisms fail, the individual may over time, develop and deploy Pathological Adaptations, like Dissociation, Regression, Conversion, focused self-harm (like cutting), OCD, and so on. These adaptations are mental illness, or mental infections as we prefer, that divert, distract and protect the individual from assault and trauma, disjuncture, shame, and guilt when nothing else works. They are pathological because they represent distinct breaks with reality and pathological adaptations that degrade daily function and that likely represent observable neurological damage.
For example, consider distortion. Dissociation is basically a formal detachment from reality. When somebody dissociates, they develop an alternative personality, or experience amnesia and fugue so they can exist in an alternative world. When somebody dissociates, they get lost in non-existent realms where they can forget about the toxicity happening all around them, or within them. They do this so they can ignore their reality, because reality is causing too much pain.
Dissociation is a pathological form of diversion and compartmentalization, and it is far more common than you think. Daydreaming that interferes with work, fugue states that interfere with reality, going out with the boys so you can avoid your real life, hanging with the girls and getting “me time” while your children are dealing with the trauma of your abuse, are all practised efforts at avoidance of awareness via dissociation from reality.
Dissociation is not the only form of defence mechanism that gets turned into a pathology. There are others, like regression, somatization, addiction, and so on, that develop when secondary and tertiary systems fail; however, we will not go into them here. We will dive deeper into pathological defence mechanisms elsewhere. However, before we move on from defence mechanisms, we would like to close this section with a few final comments.
Number one, since since this is course on healing and connection, and since awakening is an important component of both, you need to know, any use of ARMs belies your healing and connection goal. Repression of pain and anguish, whether it to covers up trauma or the guilt and shame pain of your own disjunctive behaviour, is exactly the opposite of awakening. Going back to our metaphor of sleeping in a chaotic room, using ARMs to repress awareness is exactly like turning around and going back to sleep, or turning the light off and leaving the room because you do not want to see or deal with the mess. If you do that, you are not waking up and you are not becoming aware of reality. You are going back to sleep and pretending.
Number two, you also need to understand that chronic repression of painful realities through the deployment of ARMs, along with improperly treated assault, neglect of essential needs, and disjuncture, eventually leads to the development of Psycho-Social-Spiritual Infection (PSSI) and Pathological Adaptations. If you do not properly deal with trauma, if you repress painful memories, they come out in other ways, in a lowered self-esteem, in greater susceptibility to pain,14 in a reduced sense of self-efficacy, or in pathological behavioural adaptations, like Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, and the like.
If you are serious about healing and awakening, it is important to become aware of the various ways we reduce awareness of trauma and disjuncture, and aware of the things we are repressing, otherwise you will be spinning your wheels and setting yourself up for long term PSS Infection and dysfunction .
Note, this is not something you can simply ignore. Facing reality, dealing with the trauma, and healing the damage is something we all have to do because on this world, we have all experienced considerable trauma and disjuncture, so expect that if you want to truly awaken, you’ve got some anti-repression work to do.
If you do get to this point and you do think you might have repressed awareness of trauma, consider reading (or rereading) LP Workbook Two: Healing. That booklet contains advice on how to move forward with an authentic healing process.
If you get to this point and you think you may have used ARMs to repress awareness of disjunctive acts, then the question becomes, how do you properly deal with the disjuncture so you can eliminate guilt and shame. That’s a question we will deal with in the next two units on accountability and atonement.
Anger , Hatred, and Division
Before we get to our discussion on dealing with disjuncture, we want to speak about one more thing you should watch out for if you are serious about healing and connection, and that is anger and hatred. You need to know, anger and hatred have no place in healing, no place in connection, and no place in authentic spirituality. If you find you are are constantly angry about things, pissed off, lashing out, and just in general being a hateful old dick, you are not healthy, you are not whole, and you are not waking up.
To be sure, it OK to be angry about things. It is OK to hate things as well. There are lots of things to be angry about in the world, and lots of things to hate, like rampant greed and hypocrisy. It is OK to want compensation, apologies, and accountability. However, it is not OK to hate and harm others just because you are angry, no matter how much you think they deserve it. Harming others doesn’t solve any problems and doesn’t make anything better. In fact, it always makes everything worse. Harming other things is also a disjunctive and unaligned action, no matter what your particular excuse (like justice, or revenge, or whatever) for it might be. So don’t do it, period.
Keep this in mind. If you there is a lot of hate in your life for whatever reason, if you hate this group or that group, this person or that person, take a pause and check your progress because certainly there is something wrong. If you are filled with anger and hate, you are not waking up and something inside must be damaged. If you are filled with anger and hatred, this is a healing and connection red flag that indicates something is seriously wrong.
And with that, we come to an end of this unit on awakening. In this unit we have looked at the nature of awakening. We have seen that awakening is filling the vessel with the consciousness of your higher self. Waking up is becoming more aware—becoming “woke” as the children like to say. Awakening is easy to initiate. An awakening affirmation gets the process started. The challenge comes when you confront painful realities inside you and around you. When you begin to confront painful realities, your bodily ego naturally works to repress, so you can function in normal life. That works if you are ok with Normal Consciousness. However if you want to heal and connect, if you want to raise your level of awareness and seek union with your Highest Self, you need to become aware of everything, your trauma, your injuries, the harm you have done to others and so on. That can be a challenge because of all the repression that occurs in our lives. However, if you pay attention to the awareness reduction mechanisms identified in this unit, if you learn to be mindful of denial, projection, reaction formation, gaslighting, and all the other defence mechanisms you use, you can bring things up so you can properly process and move forward without hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep.
Finally remember, make sure you process anger and hatred. Make sure you figure out why you are mad and deal with that so you don’t get caught up in movements that harm others. It is OK to be angry at things. It is OK to seek change and transformation. In fact, it is necessary. If the world is going to heal and connect, the world is going to have to change. However, none of that change can come as a consequence of violence and abuse. Transformation must occur within a framework of compassion, love, and unity, not disregard, hatred, and division. By all means, recognize that some things have to change and some people have to change. By all means, recognize there is only so much humanity can tolerate. Realize there are limits to what can be allowed. Set boundaries. Refuse to participate. Break free from toxicity and abuse. Just don’t do it from a position of duality, hatred, and harm. Hate and anger are powerful sleeping pills. Instead, do it from the basic understanding that we are all one, all part of the same Family of Spirit, and we’ve all got work to do before we can properly heal and connect. That’s the only way to move yourself, and this planet, forward.
- The room you wake up in can impact whether your awakening experiences, whether all your spiritual experiences moving forward, will be positive, negative, or some combination of the two. Think about the condition of your “room” (i.e. your family, workplaces, friend spaces, etc.) Does anything about the condition of the room stand out as something you might need to address as you begin to move forward towards connection? Write your thoughts in the margins and share with the group if you like.
- Emotional and psychological damage can influence whether you have positive or negative experiences on the road to stronger connection. Think about any psychological, emotional, and physical abuse you might have experienced. Do you think this has damaged you in any way? What comes to your mind when you ask yourself the question, “Is there any damage I have to deal with before I can wake up and face the room?” Write your thoughts down and share with the group if you like.
- Review the secondary and tertiary arms introduced in this unit. Do you think you use any of these ARMs to reduce your awareness of unpleasant realities and emotions? If so, write these downs and briefly discuss them. Can you see the operation of these ARMs in others around you? Give a couple of examples and discuss.
1A connection event or connection experience is the LP term for a mystical experience or religious experience when one “connects” to a higher level of consciousness. For an advanced discussion of connection events, see ##Mike Sosteric, A Neurologically Grounded Theory of Mystical/Spiritual Experience, 2016, Available: https://athabascau.academia.edu/DrS. Also see http://www.thespiritwiki.com/Connection_Event/.
2The bodily ego is the ego that emerges from the neuronal operations of the Default Mode Network of the physical brain. The Default Mode Network are the neural structures that make up our self-reflective sense of identity.
The bodily ego can be distinguished from the spiritual ego which is the individualized identity/sense of “I” that emerges as the result of an intensification in the Fabric. For more see ##Sosteric, A Neurologically Grounded Theory of Mystical/Spiritual Experience. Also http://www.thespiritwiki.com/Default_Mode_Network/.
3Q is an online conspiracy theorist, probably the handle for a collection of elite sponsored disinformation agents. As you will come to understand as you progress through these materials, people fall victim to things like Q because they are angry, disconnected, damaged, fearful, and consequently primed for hate. Q, and other disinformation sources, exploit anger, disconnection, damage, and fear in order distract and confuse from the primary human agenda, which should be healing and connection.
4Hint, everybody deserves to be treated with kindness, love, and respect. Nobody deserves to be treated with violence. Nobody deserves to be incarcerated. Nobody deserves to be treated like dirt.
7 Sublimation is the redirection of energy and awareness from an appropriate target to an inappropriate target. For example, an adolescent angry at their father may, because the father will respond to their anger with more abuse, redirect their anger to weaker children at school, or their spouse at home.
10Brendan Sasso, “Apple CEO Denies Using Tax ‘Gimmicks,’” Text, TheHill, May 21, 2013, https://thehill.com/policy/technology/301043-sen-levin-upbraids-apple-ceo-tim-cook-over-tax-practices.
11 Processing trauma does not necessarily mean having to relive them. It means, being able to confront, accept, and to move towards healing. That is why it is imperative to work with trained professionals who understand the impacts of trauma and who can help you acquire positive coping tools so you can move past them.
12This behaviour of projection happens in the social world. You can be a free thinker as long as you do not challenge the status quo. If you do challenge, those in positions of authority will undermine you, exclude you, publicly ridicule and shame you, or worse, vilify you.
13“11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting,” Psychology Today, accessed February 3, 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting.
14Phillip J. Quartana et al., “Anger Suppression Predicts Pain, Emotional, and Cardiovascular Responses to the Cold Pressor,” Annals of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine 39, no. 3 (June 2010): 211–21, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-010-9182-8.