Rhetorical Stability (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 244)

A child sits alone on the floor in the middle of a room by themselves. The child cowers and shivers uncontrollably if anyone else enters the room. Which of the following responses do you believe is the most stabilizing to the child?

1) The first person walks into the room and kneels down directly in front of the child. They cower a little bit themselves and coddle the child with baby talk saying things like “Are you sick?”, “Are you hurt?”, “You’ll be okay”, “Everything’s alright”, “You don’t need to worry or be frightened”, and “I know how scary this room is, I understand how you feel.”

2) The second person walks into the room and stands directly in front of the child in a domineering stance. This person looks directly at the child and says loudly and with force “Stop that, there is no reason to be scared!” or “Quit it now, I said stop acting like that!” or “If you don’t stop acting like a baby, I’m gonna make you stop or give you something to really be scared of!”.

3) The third person walks into the room quietly and calmly. This person sits down next to the child and refrains from acknowledging the behavior of the child while they also display no self reaction of worry or concern for anything in the environment. After a while, this person stands up next to the child and silently extends a hand toward the child in an obvious gesture to assist the child in standing up if they should so desire.

Cribb          2018

The Killing of Comet Trails by the Phone World Filter Clan (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 241)

A lady and her young daughter walk into the restaurant. They walk up and sit at the sushi bar. The parent has a faint aura of pretentiousness and lack of concern regarding any external perception about her. The child is relaxed and smiling, with sparkling energy flowing constantly in, out, and around her essence, like tiny comet trails of excited stardust. Her vibrant posture possesses no discount or disrespect for any of the world that swirls about herself and her comet trails.

They sit down. Mom immediately buries her head and all of her attention in her phone. The child, who seems to understand this mommy behavior as the norm, quietly refrains from intruding into mommy’s important activity. The little girl’s head remains up at all times and she keeps quietly observing the entire world of the restaurant. Is she looking around for something specific or just looking around to see if anyone else in the room actually notices her, actually sees her, I wonder?

After a few minutes, without any other engagement, mom pulls her phone out of the downward cradle of her hands, out of her own bubble of isolated existence, and points her phone world at her daughter. There isn’t really any verbalization or look of communication in the process, only a controlled pointing of a phone world filter at something organic, living, and breathing, which seems used to not be interacted with except in this given manner. The child doesn’t even turn or move for the first few snapped pictures. Then the photographer mom of the phone world filter clan apparently decides the pictures might be improved upon. Remaining as minimally interactive as is feasible, mom reaches up and moves the little girl’s flowing mane of curls slightly further towards the back of her head. Then, silent click, silent click, silent click. And maybe I’m imagining it, but now mom appears to feel like she has something to be happier about. . . a digital prisoner doppelgänger held perfectly in her own phone world filter of the alien organic-living-breathing entity that still sits right next to her, yet also apparently a million light years away.

The young girl eventually giggles and laughs at her photo session. Small meaningless words of empty banter bounce back and forth between the mouths of mother and daughter for a moment before both return to their previously adopted (or should I say adapted?) roles in their separate worlds of fictional crossover coexistence and union.

Their to-go-order eventually escapes the kitchen and is delivered unto them in a neat, nice, and immaculately folded paper bag. Mommy and daughter rise back up out of their seats as good as any strangers might do and then together, without words or gestures amongst themselves, stroll out of the restaurant so obviously happy in their unified familial bliss that I can barely stand it.

Cribb          2018

Stability or Less (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 228)

Yesterday, a long term employee of mine expressed her gratitude to me for educating her in and helping her to understand the principle of stability in regard to all behavior, but most specifically in regard to that of her child.

As I myself have said on many occasions, she began talking to me by reiterating that “It’s very difficult to be a parent who truly cares about your child and wants more than anything to do the right thing for them. There isn’t any type of instruction manual and unfortunately, most of the advice that everyone wants to stuff down your throat, including your parents and the rest of your family, doesn’t really work worth a shit. That advice more often than not, simply perpetuates ongoing behavior in yourself and your child that isn’t helpful or healthy in any long term manner. The same sins, madness, abuses, and confusion of the parents usually get passed on to their children. It happens in a familiar presentation of the societal norm, routine parental expectation, and supposed love, but in the end, there isn’t any real growth or learning or escape from the past for that child. Everyone involved, though, just keeps smiling and pretending like everything that could possibly be done is being done, that it is what it is, and that life is only supposed to play out that way. And meanwhile, if you are a person who actually observes and engages your child without that common delusional filter, you can see their suffering and struggle with all of life. You want to do something about it, but you don’t know where to turn or who to listen to. It doesn’t seem like anyone knows the answer.”

I replied “Well, you know that I understand all of that and that I agree with every word of it. I guess most people are just too broken or oblivious to want to look at all of that in the face and then be forced to do something about what they see. They are okay pretending to care, pretending to be a parent in the “normal” way, but not with acknowledging the actual degree of responsibility and obligation that they should have committed to themselves before biologically reproducing. It’s exactly the same way so many people approach their pets. You know that just as much as I do. We see it every day, over and over and over. People, parents, owners, whomever. . .they love to talk and editorialize about love and all that they do for those they love, but their actions are irrefutable proof that they are more focused on telling the fairy tale and selling it to everyone, than actually figuring out what it profoundly means to love and cherish another living creature. Love is stability, of that I have no doubt. Less than stability is instability or unstable or destabilizing, however you want to describe it, and that’s not love, that is passing on torment, suffering, and confusion to another living creature. That is anti-love and it is despicable.

I’m not sure how everyone is supposed to figure all of that out. Like you said, there isn’t an instruction manual and most people are raised to have no clue whatsoever about awareness, behavior, and empathy. Generation, after generation, after generation, repeats the same cycles without anyone intervening or breaking out of the delusional conformity of their family tree. It is impossible to even know where the blame starts, but in the end that doesn’t matter either, because one person after another just keeps passing on the demons to their children and then, their children’s children. Everyone’s caught in this acceptable repetitive loop of conforming excusable deniability instead of simply engaging in the reality of love; of either fostering and nurturing genuine stability or encouraging and enabling destabilization. I have had to connect the dots from a lot of diverse and complex shit to bring all of that into the focus that I now possess, but I know it’s true and I know it works. I wish I could share it with people on a much greater level than I do now, but most don’t listen. They have no desire to contemplate such complexity or embrace such a never ending burden.”

My employee had tears in her eyes when she spoke next. “I’ve seen such a difference in him. He was having a lot of problems before and acting out frequently and feeling like a failure. He told me once that he didn’t think anyone liked him, and I felt so sad, so sorry for him. I told him that that wasn’t true and I tried to help him, but it was hard to know what to do to really help him, how to offset or change the influences in his life that brought him to that point and made him continue to feel that way. Working here, I have learned an enormous amount about stability from you. I’ve seen it over and over with our patient’s and I’ve seen it over and over in employee interactions. I’m so glad that I have because it has made all the difference in the world in my child’s life. He has responded so well. The difference in him is so astounding. He won an award the other day in school for being the best at something. He didn’t get sent to detention or recieve a bad mark or get it trouble for failing a test. He didn’t get attention for being a failure or doing something wrong. He got attention for doing something right and being great at something. He was so proud of himself. He felt so good about his accomplishment and what he had achieved. You should have seen his smile and how happy he was. It made me cry.”

I smiled back with perhaps the faintest trickle of a tear in my own eye and said “That’s awesome. That’s so great to hear. That experience will stick with him from now on in his life. I think you know it, but that is a profound paradigm shift, and it is in such a great direction. I’m unbelievably happy for you and for him. That’s the difference between destabilization and stabilization, between “love” and tough love. You would think everyone who knows him would recognize that change, what brought it about, and want some for themselves, but the sad part is, most will erroneously chalk it up to something irrelevant or happenstance. I wish more would get it, but we know that they will not even when it is that black and white. Nonetheless, we will keep doing all that we may at the Castle* to keep spreading stability in our funky way as far and wide as we might, and being happy in whatever change, great or small, that we catalyze in the world for the better.”

*The Castle is a term I use to refer to the veterinary hospital that I own and operate.

Cribb          2018

Love Not of the Real Child (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 197)

It is one of the turning points in therapy when the patient comes to the emotional insight that all the love she has captured with so much effort and self-denial was not meant for her as she really was, that the admiration for her beauty and achievements was aimed at this beauty and these achievements, and not at the child herself. In therapy, this small and lonely child that is hidden behind her achievements wakes up and asks: “What would have happened if I had appeared before you, sad, needy, angry, furious? Where would your love have been then? And I was all these things as well. Does this mean that it was not really me you loved, but only what I pretended to be? The well-behaved, reliable, empathic, understanding, and convenient child, who in fact was a never a child at all? What became of my childhood? Have I not been cheated out of it? I can never return to it. I can never make up for it. From the beginning I have been a little adult.

The Drama of the Gifted Child: the Search for the True Self

Alice Miller          1994

The Two Poles of the False Self; The Root of much Mental and Behavioral Illness (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 190)

Paraphrased pretext note: According to Buddhist psychology, narcissism is an inherent consequence or side effect of maturation in human existence. It does not necessarily have to become a demon of future suffering, instability, and mental anguish, but most often it does. The adults suffering from such eventually become parents and pass this insufferable torch onto their children via their over invasiveness/intrusiveness or neglectful behavior in relation to their child’s true self. The child’s narcissistic anchor is unable to lock and hold on a stable parental entity in this dynamic and is thus unable to naturally autocorrect by withering away into oblivion from whence it came. Instead, the narcissistic anchor becomes a narcissistic “demon” possessing the child and that demon then assumes one of two possible versions, creating the shell of a false self around the child. Often, the child grows into an adult who continues to carry the demon for the rest of their life.

Cribb 2017

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Just as the philosophers of the Buddha’s day could be described as either eternalists (who believed in an immortal heaven, God, or real self) or annihilationists (who believed only in the meaninglessness or futility of life, so the human psyche finds comfort in alternatively embracing one or the other of these views. they are in fact, the two poles of the false self: namely, the grandiose self developed in compliance with the parent’s demands and in constant need of admiration, and the empty self, alone and impoverished, alienated and insecure, aware only of the love that was never given. The grandiose self, while fragile and dependent on the admiration of others, believes itself to be omnipotent or self-sufficient and so retreats to aloofness or remoteness, or, when threatened, clings to an idealized other from whom it hopes to retrieve its power. The empty self clings in desperation to that which it feels can assuage its hollowness or retreats to a barren void in which it is unapproachable and which reinforces the belief in its own unworthiness. Neither feels entirely satisfactorily, but to the extent that we are governed by the demands of the false self, we can envision no alternative.

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein, M.D.          1995

The Passing On of Life or Lifelessness (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 188)

In the premindfulness* state, our minds are most often operating independently of our bodies, on a different level, as it were, from the actions that our bodies are performing. When I read a bedtime story to my children, for instance, I can, at the same time, be plotting out the details of my next writing project to myself. If one of my children interrupts me to ask me a question, I find that I have no idea what I am reading about. Rather than being mindful, I am instead reading mindlessly, and while I would prefer to think otherwise, my children’s experience of me will be lifeless. Similarly, when walking to the store, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or even making love, we often are split off from our physical experience: we are quite literally not present. Our minds and bodies are not functioning as one.

*mindfulness, as defined in Buddhism – being aware of what is exactly happening in the mind and body as it is occurring.

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein, M.D.          1995

Millie and the Most Important Thing of All (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 177)

Millie (age 9) said “So, what is marking? How does someone mark a pet or a person?” and after a sparked involuntary chuckle, Jody’s body gradually recessed into the corner of the sofa and seemed to brace itself for whatever might come. As she did so, her expression whispered to me “well here we go you madman, this ought to be good. . . are you really going to have a college graduate level discussion with my baby girl on behavior and psychology?. . . I can’t even imagine how this is gonna go, but I guess I trust you, you crazed and certifiable lunatic.”

After a long and detailed conversation of what needed to be said and discussed to answer Millie’s question appropriately, she tilted her head to the side with playful comprehension and triumphantly inquired of me, if such a thing can be done, “So, you should never mark anything with fear, right?”

And my smile refused to be caged by any constraints as I replied “That’s right Millie. You got it, you got it! You never mark anyone or anything with fear. It is not easy and it can be very very hard not to accidentally do, but you should never ever mark anyone or anything with fear. That is the most important thing of all.”

Cribb          2017