July 7, 1999

Please to Meet You; Hope you Guess my Name; an Essay on the Inner Enemy or Pig Parent

* Marcie hears voices in her head every time that she has an interaction at work telling her that people will see her as stupid, weird, awkward and ugly.

* When he approaches a woman he likes, Jacob has overwhelming emotional responses and expectations of ridicule.

* In a lively class discussion, Marge is asked a question by the professor. She is convinced that everyone is smarter and better read. She fears that her teacher will find out that she is a fraud and her mind becomes a blank as her whole body is shot through with panic.

* Whenever Charlotte makes phone calls to sell customers her company’s services her heart beats wildly and she is filled with dread. Yet she has developed a system with which she manages to appear calm and self-assured. When she gets home from work she is totally exhausted.

* Daniel is convinced to a level of metaphysical certainty that if people found out he is gay that they would despise and persecute him though they may pretend to be tolerant.

* Hillary is under constant fear of danger; danger of bad food, bad air, dangerous people risk of being stalked and raped. She performs complicated, extremely time consuming steps to keep her safe and has to limit her activities radically.

* Drew constantly compares herself with other people and almost always comes up "lower." She ignores people who she decides are lower and focuses on those who are better than her. She is plagued by these constant feelings of competition.

It has as been called by as many names as the Devil himself. Poets and playwrights have portrayed it in thousand guises. Every psychotherapist has a name for it; every therapy system has recognized this near universal phenomenon; that inner voice that tells us over and over, in good times and bad, from childhood to old age, whether we are doing well or badly, that we are not OK, that we are stupid or bad or ugly or crazy or sick, or that our life is mediocre, hopeless or doomed.

The voices in Marcie’s head would be called her harsh superego by a psychoanalyst, Jacob’s predictions of doom would be called catastrophic expectations by a rational-emotive therapist, Marge’s feelings about her worth would be called low self-esteem. Charlotte’s panic attack would be called a phobic reaction. Daniel’s mental conundrum would be called a cognitive trap and Hillary’s fears would be called negative self-talk by a cognitive therapist. Drew’s constant self put downs have been called punitive alter by a multiple personalities advocate.

What they are called is not as important as calling them something so we can talk about them; these negative forces working inside of us are normally not acknowledged and discussion of them is frowned upon. Consider this: In the most tyrannical of political regimes people are prohibited from speaking their ruler’s name. Why? Because if we can’t talk about what is oppressing us we can’t fight it. In addition if we can’t clarify how he tyrant works we are liable to believe that we are the cause of our tribulations. Being able to talk about oppressors its the first step to overthrowing them. Likewise with our internal oppressor; it is important to be aware that it ruins our lives and to refer to it by name. I will call the particular demon that makes our lives miserable the Enemy Alien, the Critical Parent, the Pig Parent; use them all or make up your own, above all lets talk about it.

Everyone of the real-life situations described above can be seen as the result of the operation of an influence which has a firm grip over each person’s mental and emotional life. And because the Critical Parent started as external influences which were acquired and incorporated sometime in our past, usually childhood, we can remove it as an influence in our present.

There are obstacles however because without realizing it most people believe that the Enemy’s mission is legitimate: to keep us on the right path, prevent us from making mistakes, guide us in our decisions, advise us of our flaws; in short that it is well informed and beneficial, worthy of being listened to and followed. The Enemy is also mistaken for our Conscience, that inner aspect of our soul which reminds us of our legitimate obligations as human beings.

But unlike our Conscience which is built on the love of ourselves and our neighbors, the Inner Enemy’s mission is to prevent the affectionate bond between people. The Internal Enemy is devoted to making sure that we not only don’t love ourselves but that we not love others. When we don’t love ourselves or others no one will love us and the Enemy’s task is complete. The Enemy is principally the Enemy of Love. The Enemy is also an inveterate liar, it lies about us and others; it is therefore also the enemy of Truth.

November 8, 1998

Emotional Literacy; Love of Others, Self and Truth

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1. Emotional intelligence means sophistication about emotions. Even though the concept has a humanistic ring it can be used effectively to manipulate and even exploit. To fulfill its humanistic promise, emotional intelligence must be centered around love, intimacy and affiliation. Thus emotional literacy is a love-centered form of emotional intelligence.

2. Emotional Literacy is composed of three principal attitudes: Love of Others, Love of Self and Love of Truth. These three fundamental aspects of an emotionally literate person are intimately dependent on each other. Yet each can be studied and developed in its own right.

3. The development of Emotional Literacy is hampered by four separate, important factors:

A. Our love of others is restricted by a strict code of behavior; the rules of the Stroke Economy which prevent us from giving, asking for and accepting affection and love.

B. Our love of ourselves is held hostage by self- hatred embodied in the inner Critical Parent. The Critical Parent with its persistent, restrictive and demeaning influence is the most important and pervasive obstacle to people’s love of themselves and consequently their ability to truly love others.

C. Lies and secrets block the free expression and understanding of our emotions. By constantly lying about and obscuring our feelings we prevent the development of love of self and others. Honesty and truth telling are required in an emotionally literate, love-centered life.

D. A very influential lie that affects our ability to love ourselves and others is that we can not cause feelings in others and are therefore not responsible for how others feel. This false idea is the high point of emotional illiteracy and a major obstacle to the development of our emotional intelligence.

4. Emotional Literacy is a brand new, advanced form of communication. Though it easily masquerades as simple English, it is in fact a sophisticated new way of speaking in human relationships, based on Transactional Analysis.

5. Finally, Emotional Literacy can be learned over time by the exercise of a few, time tested, practical, transactional exercises applicable anytime any place that people can be found. A complete presentation of these exercises is available in my book Achieving Emotional Literacy.

Why is it so Difficult to Love Others?

To love and to be loved: This is what everyone wants. Yet it is an extraordinarily difficult state to achieve. Why? Due to the operation of a set of rules that controls the exchange of affection: "The Stroke Economy." Choosing to disobey these rules and learning how to give, ask for, and accept strokes is the solution to our inability to be fully loving .

Why Don't we Love Ourselves?

Self love has traditionally been suspect and likely to be labeled egocentric, selfish and immodest. However it is a requisite for being able to love others. Self hate and disapproval is an extremely common affliction and is at the root of much lovelessness in the world. Two things are needed. Beating back the Critical Parent that is responsible for our self-hate and developing an inner Nurturing Parent to be on our side with unconditional support.

The Critical Parent by fostering self-hate prevents us from loving others. Ridding one self of self hate is job one in emotional literacy training.

Emotions are Inside, People are Outside.

Our internal experience is rich with emotional content; positive and negative. We feel shame fear, guilt, anger on one side, and love, hope, joy on the other. But our feelings are intimately related to our experiences with other people and can’t be separated from them. Emotional Literacy training teaches us how to build a reliable and effective, style of communication about our emotions. This is in effect a new language based on a modern communication theory, Transactional Analysis, which serves as a bridge for communication between the emotions inside of us and the people who affect them outside of us.

What's Love of Truth Got to do With It?

Love is blind, it has been said. And if we add to love’s blindness, the power that love has it becomes clear that if we are going to embrace our loving potential without being led astray, we need to incorporate a mechanism to govern it. Love of Others and love of Self are two opposing, vital, seemingly contradictory forces. Love of Truth is the principle able to coordinate them.

July 21, 1998

Radical Truth Telling(Click here for an expanded presentation)

Lying is a part of everyday life in spite of the fact that we consider it a sin. Love and emotional literacy cannot survive in a soup of lies. I make a radical proposal: Why not try being wholly truthful for a change? People will argue that radical honesty is just a way to hurt others with so called truth and that some lying is always necessary to protect other people’s feelings. I explain how lies are always harmful and, with examples, how we can be completely honest while keeping in mind our love of others and of ourselves.

Taking Responsibility.

One of the most awful truths that we face is the way we injure others with our cruel actions and self serving lies. Love of truth requires that we acknowledge our misdeeds and take responsibility for the way they harm others, emotionally and materially. The difficult but cleansing skill of acknowledging our mistakes, offering apologies and making emotional amends is discussed and methods of apologizing and accepting or rejecting apologies are explained.

CONCLUSIONS.

With love as the coordinating emotional attitude we can develop our emotional intelligence along lines that will enhance the quality of our lives and the lives of people around us. Emotionally literacy is based on a balance between the love of others and the love of self, regulated by an honest, reality seeking, abiding love of truth. The transactional tools that I recommend in this book provide a clear and simple approach to this triple goal. Anyone who wants to can start today, and with time and dedication, will reap the rewards of improved emotional intelligence.

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May  18, 1998. 

What's Love Got to do With it? 

Emotional acumen can be organized around a variety of purposes. As an example, if what we want is to intimidate and terrorize people into compliance there is intelligence that has been used from time immemorial and constantly updated by torturers around the world (the Inquisition, the Nazis, the CIA, the School the Americas, etc) who achieve their purpose by emotional means. Or if what we want is to be able to influence people to buy or vote, we can again use information already available to sophisticated ad agencies which are quite successful in using people’s emotions to accomplish their client’s goals.

One extraordinarily successful version of emotional intelligence is the skill that is displayed by animators of feature films like The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Anastasia. In these films we see conveyed the most subtle, moving nuances in a wide gamut of emotions with a few lines on a two dimensional surface. The effectiveness of these emotional triggers is far more reliable and cheaper than any flesh and blood actor can provide. 

On the personal level we can use our emotional skills to develop self control or to soothe and isolate ourselves emotionally or we can control others by creating guilt, fear or depression in them. These skills can be seen as a form of emotional "intelligence" as well. I see signs that many who agree that emotional intelligence is an important capacity have lost sight of what we should seek; those emotional skills that improve people’s lives in a humane, empathic manner.

For emotional intelligence to become emotional literacy it needs to be a heart centered  restructuring of emotional information. Love is ready to come forth and become the foundation for a better life if we will only let it. If we find ways to release it and nurture it as it grows we can clear a path in which love is the master emotion around which all the other emotions are organized so that they work for us instead of against us. That is the aim of emotional literacy training.

March 4, 1998.

CLINTON/LOWINSKY and LIES, LIES, LIES

Early in February I was struck by the fact that the media and presumably the country had become interested in the issue of lying because of the Clinton/Lowinsky controversy. Lying and truthfulness is a major theme in emotional literacy. Basically I believe that emotional literacy cannot be pursued or developed while lying by commission or omission. I have been writing and thinking about lying and its corrosive effect on people for a long time and it occurred to me that in the age of information it is becoming more difficult to get away with a lie especially if the liar is in highly visible position.

Clinton's elaborate on-camera evasions have convinced just about everybody; friend or foe that he is hiding the truth; only 28% believe him. Still, most people (68%) don't seem to care as long as he did not urge Lowinsky to lie under oath in which case 56% say he should leave office.

So it seems that while lying is becoming more difficult the result may not be that people will decide to become more intolerant of lying and lie less as I had hoped. Instead it seems that the result will be that people will accept lies as a fact of life. That would be would be more "realistic" and consistent with the cynicism that is becoming a feature of post-modern life.

What does all this have to do with emotional literacy? The fact is that a corner-stone of the emotionally literate way of life is honesty. Why?  In an environment of lies it is impossible to develop or maintain one's emotional intelligence. How so? Because if being emotionally literate means that we understand our and other's emotions we must not lie or be lied to about them. How can we hope to understand the world of feelings if everyone is lying about them? And how can we expect to have honesty about our feelings if we lie about everything else? So what are the prospects of increasing emotional literacy in the general population if we react with cynicism to the lies that people tell?   

Probably because lying is so ingrained in us, we assume that nothing can be done to avoid it, indeed that politicians must lie in order to accomplish their purposes. So given that we have given up on honesty we are establishing a new level of tolerance about lying. To counteract this trend I am making a radical proposal: radical truth telling; a commitment to a life free of lies.

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