Inverted Loci & Sacrifice of the Self.

It was through reading up on NLP, if I remember correctly, that I first learned of the concept of the locus of control. One’s locus is where one attributes the creator of oneself and one’s circumstances. To label it as internal or external seems too simplistic, however, at least in my case — instead, it could be far more accurately characterized as an inversion.

In fact, the mentality in question here is as backasswards as can be: I become responsible for how others feel; they become responsible for how I feel.

Feeling responsible for the thoughts and emotions of others manifests in the “disease to please” everyone around you. It is what Nietzsche meant when he spoke of holding the herd over the individual. More value is placed in the masses than in the individual.

If you feel that others are responsible for how you feel, you constantly depend on them to feel good about yourself and tend to blame them when you feel anything negative, which leads to feelings of resentment. If you feel that you are responsible for how others feel you are assuming ownership over their emotions, constantly running around trying to make people feel as you think they should. In any case, living with inverted loci is ludicrous for a few reasons.

First, the battle is ultimately a futile one, a total waste of time and energy, as you cannot exert any long-term, wide-ranging control over the reactions of others.

Second, even if it were possible it would be blatantly unethical. Despite the fact that this appears to be a problem of indiscriminate empathy, it is also very shallow, unenlightened empathy: you are manipulating others into reacting to you in a targeted fashion rather than in their own, unique, authentic manner.

Third, there is what I call the persona problem. You must sacrifice honesty and authenticity — in short, bury your true self beneath a persona, or social masque — in order to procure the desired reactions or avoid undesirable reactions from your social environment. Maybe this is why sometimes I don’t want to be around other people. I fear I’m going to feel trapped and drained by the emotional tug-o-war puppeteer game I feel I’m forced to engage in. Over all, inverted loci wastes time and energy and shows a significant lack of value in individuality and personal freedom and responsibility.

The answer is to adopt the attitude of self-governance, free will and personal responsibility towards our emotional states. I am free to feel how I feel, but ultimately responsible for those feelings. They are free to feel how they feel, think what they wish, believe what they please, and are ultimately responsible for their own feelings.

It is about “expression, not impression,” as I have heard it so elegantly phrased. If I have issues with anxiety, depression and anger, they stem from a lack of self-discipline or undeveloped coping mechanisms. They aren’t “making” me feel jealous, angry or depressed; I just feel jealous, angry or depressed, be it by choice or programming.

I think emotions become more honest and stable once you claim your own as your own and recognize those of others as belong to them and not to yourself. You’re more apt to make commitments, and when you do make them, to keep them, and make only as many commitments at once as you can handle. Your insides aren’t being tugged this way and that by others, and you don’t feel the need to tug others. It also saves energy because you’re not investing so much time in trying to manipulate what other people feel — be your intentions good or ill.

This isn’t a philosophy dead-set against empathy, either, but a philosophy that places ultimate value in the individual and in diversity. However important it may be to be receptive to the feelings of others, it is equally important to recognize those feelings as their feelings and not your own, and your feelings as your own and not theirs. Empathy requires sensitivity, then, but just as important is the act of maintaining boundaries.

Crooked Finger.

Destruction void of creation.
Casting critiques,
offering no solutions.

More chatter
in a sea
of meaningless noise.

Act as if you are better
than everybody else,
point your crooked finger
at everyone but yourself.

I have been there.
It’s such a sad, sick,
blind fucking place.

Call them all clones, idiots,
but how original
is being pompous,
self-righteous,
armed to the teeth
with unyielding bitterness?

No self-consciousness.

Fight fire with fire
till everything is consumed.
Do what you do if its true to you.
I cannot see the value
in it anymore.

It serves nothing.
Not them.
Not you.

Attack of the Flashback Bitchslaps.

My mind has a masochistic bent, which I first realized when I was younger. I would develop a mood, emotions, thoughts that effected me just as they would had they been spawned by some experience in the exterior environment, but they were all reactions to imagined scenarios — shit that had never happened at all. These might be potential future scenarios or entirely fictitious. In any case, it struck me that those around me would be unable to piece together what I was thinking or feeling or why as it was so far removed from anything going on in the immediate environment.

Nowadays that still happens, but more frequent — and disturbingly autonomous — are intense, intrusive memories I have come to call flashback bitch-slaps. They pounce on consciousness like a predator when my mind is idle, as when I’m sweeping, mopping, taking a shower, a piss or trying to sleep. They come in the form of brief, intense flashbacks that burst into consciousness from out of nowhere, usually regarding circumstances or interactions with people that I have had throughout the day, slightly less often something more recent or something that happened long, long, ridiculously long ago.

As an immediate reaction I find myself reconsidering how the other person in the flashback reacted to me. Maybe he or she took what I said this way, or might have thought or felt that way regarding my actions, words, or even tone of voice. Almost invariably these are negative assessments; I feel certain that I made them feel angry, depressed, awkward, used, pushed to the side or violated and I feel intense guilt, shame, or self-loathing as a consequence.

Unable to distract myself from the flashback or my intense emotional reactions to it by mean of another thought, I find myself compulsively damning myself aloud, though usually under my breath, hissing that I am stupid or an asshole. In tandem with the verbal part of the compulsion I also often make some irrelevant movement, typically jerking the head or bugging out my eyes, as a distraction.

It’s like I bury the thought, try and “talk over” the feeling of embarrassment and shame by means of blaring loud anger and hate towards myself.

There are potential solutions I’m exploring now that I have come to identify this issue — for instance, there are the techniques of mindfulness meditation. When the flashbacks come you merely let them and respond without craving or aversion. It feels weird just letting them play out. Just watching. Observing. It takes some effort and I don’t always feel “right” about it, but when I manage, it’s very liberating at the same time.

Tease of the Dead.

Wrapped up
in the death shroud
of an eerie mood.

Here I am again.

Memories
buried with limbs
sticking out, tickling the tip
of my mental tongue,

whispering, comforting,
then

abandoning me,
leaving me
nursing questions
that never stop growing…

all I need
is some inner solidarity.
Resuscitate the self-trust,
the hope
I left for dead in me.

I want back what is mine.
Let the dead arise…

Pupil.

Slip across the sclera,
cross the etchings of the iris,
drawn into the pupil
yet again.

Vortices
to a parallel within.
Mind spasming.

Boundaries blur as bonds deepen.
Lost in transient dissolution.

Something within me
itching for the deepest intimacy,
the erotic pull of puppet strings.

The very heights
of ocular coupling.

A Collision of Multiple Descriptions.

In NLP, they have what they call multiple descriptions. These are the three distinct vantage points that are accessible to any individual, not unlike the first, second and third person modes or perspectives utilized in narration. In the first position, you experience an event through yourself. In the second position, you are empathizing with another person, walking a mile in their shoes. In the third position, you experience it all from a detached, impersonal, observer perspective that has no stake in the outcome.

People often get stuck in one position. When ensnared in the first position, one is controlling, egotistical, narcissistic, even psychopathic. Imprisonment in the second position leads one to place others before themselves: they become pushovers, martyrs. In the third position, one is a passive observer in, a detached witness to life rather than an active participant.

Rather than being stuck in a single position one might shift between them uncontrollably or even have two or three positions afflicting them at once.

I constantly find myself looking at myself as if from a third person perspective, from some external, objective viewpoint, often while I am simultaneously bound in the first person perspective. I recognize this as dissociation. It feels as though that third person mode is always there, always lingering, so perhaps that is why I so often have the feeling of being watched, being observed, even when I am alone.

I also get stuck in the second position, constantly and involuntarily putting myself in other’s shoes, seeing the world as it may be through their eyes, feeling what they feel, even thinking what they may be thinking. When I get the second and third positions at once, it adds up to something akin to an “omniscient” third person perspective — where, in writing, the narrator weaves in and out of the minds and senses of various characters. In practice, it leads to anxiety, to overload and worse and I need isolation to process and find my center again.

Thankfully, NLP offers a means by which one can allegedly learn to shift positions more or less at will. First, you calibrate the target, which is to say you become aware of verbal and nonverbal cues, and then you use the technique of “pacing” in which you strategically mirror those nonverbal cues in some way.

When this is used to access the first position, it is known as congruence; when used to access the second person, it is known as rapport. After establishing rapport or congruence through pacing, you can then use the technique of “leading” to move the target into new territory.

Its worth toying with…

Communication X.

Projection
is the antonym of empathy.
Noise drowning out the signal
we believe we are receiving.

Looking outside
through eyes that reflect the interior,
superimposed over experience.

Perceptions, reflections:
indistinguishable.

Gathering all
the ingredients for self-awareness
unknowingly,
then distributing them externally,
storing them apart from us,
attributing them to others
in an act of subliminal,
psychological excommunication.

Wherever there is ambiguity,
the dark and fertile world
in the shadows of our minds
breed illusions,

heroes and monsters
subliminally fashioned in our own image,
revealing our relationships
with aspects of our own secret face.

Creators reflected
in our own creations,
each worldview a masterpiece,

a barely-obscured mirror
of the web of relations
woven within, a pattern of strands
binding our memories, emotions, thoughts
together in wardrobe
of masques and costumes.

Internalize the Locus.

Their emotions
became the feedback
by which I adjusted myself.

I had come to value
approval over self-respect.
Doubts in my own
capacities, I sought validation

in the heart of everyone,
even the reactions
of passing strangers
or those I despised.

What a waste of a life.

Ultimately beat down
by both praise
and the ghastly distortions
in this circus hall of mirrors.

Still, I put the fate
of my mood, my thoughts,
my life in their hands:
mindset of the powerless.

I was just the leaf
chauffeured by opinions
as unpredictable
and transient as the wind.

I sought my reflection
in every other pair of eyes
save my own.
Tentacles spreading out
just to control.

Constantly running around,
adjusting, worrying,
making sure they all play
their parts as supporting roles:

anxiety borne
from failing a futile quest
again and again and again.
Rage arrives
when the pendulum swings.
Depression
is just the exhaustion.

Running for so long
from the boogeyman
I was so terrified of becoming,
hiding inside a masque
of self-serving lies
perpetually seeking validation.

Cyclic distractions,
seasons in the cyclone
spun far from my path.
Never knowing
where I stood
or what I was aiming for.
Lost grip on identity.

I can almost
see it behind me.
Aching for it clearly
in the rearview…

Centered now
on the only nucleus
of permanence.
Channeling passion
to blaze my own trail.

Embrace expression now,
bleeding shamelessly,
unapologetic.
Impression is imprisonment.

High time to internalize
the locus.

Escape from the Morbid Circus.

Dependent, controlled,
hung by a noose
fashioned by your puppet strings.
Gather ’round,
watch my dance of death throes,

forever hanging,
swinging,
gazing into the abyss
below.

Just let me go.

I’ll learn to fly before hitting
bottom or accept my fate,
find some solace.
Seems there is no
other way.

Made my own grave
just running in place.
Failure secured in inaction.

Locked in, screaming
till the throat ruptures,
all to kick the soul awake,
shake off the numbness
of an anesthetized will.

I’m not dying here.
Nothing is etched in stone.
Fate is what we make it.

Pushing through
the pins and needles.
Life aches like a funny bone,
though I’m not laughing.
If your world has answers,
they are not to questions
I’m asking.

I’ll make my own way,
find my own place,
I won’t play the slave forever.

I’ll learn to fly,
to rise above
your death,
to true liberty,
live in integrity
far above this morbid circus.

Identity Blinks.

Questions: lived.
Answers: denied.

Just living my life,
wasting my time, bearing
the sting
of a bloodshot inner eye
of a mind
that never sleeps
but doesn’t always
seem to be
on my side.

Identity blinks,

suddenly lulled
into a slumber
so suffocating.

A warm void of nothing.

Then I catch
you in the twilight.
I know I felt you there,
another face of mine,
hiding from me.

Was it you I saw
through the looking glass
as a child,
bleeding through
with those
growing, slanted
eyes?

Hung from a noose
at the end of a rope,
tied to the sustained
question mark
of my life,
struggling still.

I can’t take this.
Ignorance is not bliss.

Am I just a lie?
A fiction with a motive,
a tool in my own game?

Let me be myself,
cast the wall
of lies away.

Let me recall it all.
Help me integrate.
This bad dream
is eating me away.

Sands in the hourglass
continue to fall,
I feel I’ve slept too long.
I can almost hear the alarm.

I need to be awake.