If we stuff ourselves - with information, food, things, beliefs, opinions, appointments, dead-lines,… - it becomes increasingly difficult to feel and sense what IS and what wants to BE, and the perception of our own inner truth is blurred.
by this “imprint” that is installed by modern-day society: the feeling of not being/doing enough, contributing enough, of not being a valuable member of society – and, on the other hand, mums “being pushed” (by themselves or others) into the “workforce”, to “get a job”, to earn some money, to contribute to the family, community, society, or quite simply: to survive – instead of sharing their unique gifts and talents and being valued for it by the community in one form or another.
Being a mother, the guardian of the home, was and is acknowledged, highly respected and valued in the few remaining indigenous cultures on this planet and traditionally in well-functioning communities. Not so in modern societies where the value-adding benefit and contribution to the community/family/society is mainly measured by money. Jobs are valued and ranked based on their monetary outcome. There is no direct monetary outcome linked to the “mum-job”, and this creates a pretty strong social and cultural “imprint”, even in women (and men, for that matter) who “rebel” against it and aim for different values: Jobs that aren’t measureable in money, aren’t valued which translates into: if I am not getting paid, my contribution has no value = feeling of inadequacy, sinking self-esteem.
This applies to the job “mum” (same for “dad”, of course!) as well as to other jobs like “artist”, “philosopher”, “healer/shaman/witch”, “activist”, “visionary” etc. In tribal societies these positions within the community had a respected place and were valued. They were seen as vital roles contributing to the balance, sustainability and well-being of the whole community. There were the hunters & gatherers, later the gardeners and cultivators, entrepreneurs, and many more, running around, doing “stuff”, being busy – and there were also the ones who sat on mountain tops, in caves, secluded huts, the ones who tended the home fires, listened deeply, were in touch with other realms, played, dreamt , etc., and all of them were respected as they brought balance into the talking circle, into the community.
n‘academically’), to get “a good job” (usually this translates into ‘well-paid’), to live a “happy life” (usually this translates into ‘financial security’), then I wonder if they really will find what they are looking for when going down the road that society around them models – and sadly, I meet many who don’t. I also feel sad, when I see so many young women feeling “restless”, “inadequate”, “like missing something essential”/”empty”, longing for community, for a nurturing space – like we all do.
All the roles mentioned before are not only important, they are essential for a healthy and thriving community.
It’s time to shift the “money myth” and to see the community value and benefit in things and activities that are not directly linked to a monetary outcome.
It’s time to value and acknowledge people who donate their energies to the community/to humanity in various different ways: as volunteers in various forms, as activists, as philosophers, as artists, as elders, as young ones, as meditators, contemplators, visionaries, as mums and dads.
It's time to allow them to share their gifts with the community by actively supporting them. There are many opportunities and examples of how we can do this: creating collaborative, cooperative models to support each other (Buen vivir, Care, Commons, Ecommony, Shareconomy, Gift economy (another example here), etc.), establishing a basic income (see recent Finland experiment), slowing things down and opening pathways for open communication, mutual sharing and nurturing in many areas. I see inspiring initiatives spring forth everywhere, and I am sure we can and will come up with many more solutions to concretely create an infrastructure to allow for shifts to happen and to welcome and integrate community-oriented values and skills.
I am a mum of a daughter, and want her to see her value, no matter of her degree, certification, external factors and social/cultural rankings. This is my wish for everybody! We all have to give something – whatever that “thing” might be, it is of value for the whole. We might not see it at first. We might have to develop it. But it’s always there.
However, I met and meet a lot of people who seem to think they are “not enough” or they do not “earn enough” (money).
A lot of women sometimes struggle and feel “inadequate” because they are not earning (enough) money. They feel like they are not “good enough”, even though they are doing amazing things for their community: raising children, doing voluntary work to benefit their community, putting their energy and heart into campaigning for the well-being of the planet, creating beauty and insights, etc. etc. etc. – in short: they pour a lot of energy into nurturing the balance, beauty and well-being of their community and life in general. What could be more important and valuable for humanity?
If you feel inadequate, restless, “not enough” in whatever way sometimes or if you know a mum who does, please consider the following:
Being a mum (no matter of how many/few children!) is a full-time job. Actually, it is more than your usual full-time job as it isn’t a 9-5, 40-hours-a-week kind of job. It doesn’t stop. The responsibility for a young child is always there. And mum can feel “it” – all the time… As they get older they might not need mum so much anymore on a physical level, however, it is hugely valuable if there is a safe haven, a place to land, to recover, to enjoy when coming back from teenage explorations and life’s turmoil. Holding a nurturing space for children to grow, for family to evolve, includes an amazing variety of tasks: preparing/growing food, creating a safe place, a homely atmosphere, managing tasks and needs and wants, being there and listening, giving advice, supporting the overall growths and development of future citizens physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - and so much more. In order to do this job, especially in modern-day societies where mums often aren’t supported by their families, community, etc. but left to their own devices, it is, in my view, also necessary that mum holds a space for herself to refuel, regenerate, replenish her energies. Otherwise – and I see this often and know it from my own experience – it is easy to become exhausted and unbalanced.
In my view, being a mum (and dad, of course, but as said before I am focusing on mums here) is one of the most important jobs a human can have. Again: What could be more important for humanity than raising children to become well-balanced happy grown-ups? The important bit here is: well-balanced and happy. This is a huge task in itself and requires a lot. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ shows that, ideally, this task is fulfilled by many. However, in any case, “mum” is a very important figure in every child’s life, and in modern societies with single mums on the rise, they are often the center point for a child.
Why is this important role not seen and valued? Why do some mums feel like they are not doing enough in terms of “contributing”? Why are some mums pushed back or “do feel the pressure of having to go back into the workforce” instead of seeing their huge value and, at the same time, being valued and supported in staying at home and/or in giving their energy into projects/work that serves their community? I am not talking about mums here who choose to work in a regular job. I am talking about options and having choices, and about how a mum feels about herself and how mums are valued in society.
corresponding issues of inadequacy, lack, exhaustion, frustration, etc. and to establish new value systems and patterns in our collective consciousness.
… we honor and acknowledge those amongst us (including ourselves) who give their energy into “family/community matters”? Support them = provide food, shelter, security for them, because we see the value in their contribution?
… our political leaders and doers had advisors who contemplate and connect with the bigger picture and include the voices of mums in their decision-making processes? What would political decisions (on a communal and international level) look like then?
… there were balancing ad-wise-ors in other areas as well? People who stepped out of the busyness of modern day life and therefore are able to contribute a balancing perspective?
Do you see the white triangle? This is an example of the brain making sense of a picture for itself, by filling the gaps.
There is no white triangle - or is there?
Nature over there, me here? Is there an individual ME? Or is it the brain creating the illusion of an individual ME?
When I talk about "SELF" I don't mean the "ME" that the brain creates. I mean the energy field that we are that is intimately linked to and in constant exchange with many other energy fields forming an overall pulsating, ever-changing, evolving, colourful field of life/death.
So Nature/Self are just aspects of the same field. Through feeling Self, we are able to feel Nature. Through feeling Nature, we are able to feel Self.
If we feel connected, it is all the same.
(= If we are able to perceive this connection, not only with our minds, but with our whole body-mind-soul complex)
If our perception of connection is interrupted (read my other posts about Self connection), we might need to take some conscious steps to re-connect and to re-activate our connection channels.
As described in Being authentic - Part 1 there are many reasons to get to know and to consciously re-connect with our core being, with our nature.
Children and animals are great "detectors" and indicators that tell us immediately if/when we are connected with our Selves and authentic - or not. The dramatically increasing rates of depression, disruptive behaviour, screen addiction, overall mental and physical imbalances amongst younger and younger children are signs for us to have a closer look at our Selves.
A Swiss veterinary friend told me about increasing rates of depression and other "mental health and behavioural issues" amongst animals (he was referring to "pets", farm animals = animals in captivity). The popularity of animal communicators and "animal counselling" mirrors the effects of disconnection not only in humans but also in animals that live close to humans.
Children and animals get hugely confused by humans that aren't authentic. They sense the "true nature" behind the scene - and struggle with the mixed messages they perceive. The teacher who thinks she has to reinforce a certain rule - but doesn't really believe in it herself... The parent who made a decision and thinks he has to "be consequent" and stick to it, despite of his doubts...
All our mind-sets, beliefs, concepts, habits, thoughts, opinions are suddenly tested and questioned - not by us, but by our "little helpers": our children, students, animal friends! This can be quite challenging - believe me, I know what I am talking about ;) My children, students and animal friends often had a hard time to get through to my Self, past my strong mind-sets!
Next time you encounter "disruptive behaviour", illness, or other challenges in your life, you might want to have a closer look and check if/how, deep down, there is conflict between one (or more) of your mind-sets and your Self. It might give you a pointer of how to become more "authentic" and "true to your Self".
Again: Watch your children, students and animal friends - they are honest, clear and immediate mirrors of their environment and we can learn from them.
The more authentic we become, the more in balance we are internally, the more in sync we are with our Selves, the clearer and less confusing our signals will be that we send out to the world, the more our actions will be aligned with our core being, the happier and healthier we will be and the more we will radiate balance out to the world, within/without.
We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
I recently overheard a mother saying to her 5 year old girl: “Don’t be angry, dear. That’s not good for you. Let’s talk about it.” The girl was angry, because she felt not heard by her teacher who had blamed and punished her for something and wouldn’t want to hear the whole story behind it.
“Don’t be angry, this isn’t good for you” is a strong message and can easily translate into a mind-set that leads the girl away from her Self in the future (see Being authentic).
It seems to be a feature of the mind to categorise things and separate them into standardised boxes (e.g. “good” and “bad”). The challenge with “good”/”positive” and “bad”/”negative” is that it is quite subjective, depending on opinions, personal judgments, beliefs and values. That’s why I prefer to let my mind categorise into “life-affirming” and “life-destructive”.
Depending on cultural traditions, social environment, personal experiences, education, etc., people usually tend to have different mind-sets about “positive” and “negative”. Out of these mind-sets come fear and aversion against all things “negative”. We want to avoid “the negative stuff” at all cost, because our mind tells us it is bad = life-destructive. For instance, a lot of people are afraid of the dark or of deep water. These fears root in an ancient “mind-set” (already hardwired in our body system) that predators lurk in the dark of the night or in the depths of the ocean/lake. No matter how real the actual risk, our mind paints horrible images – and we follow suit. Other mind-sets might tell us that “anger is no good” as it might lead to aggressive behavior – towards ourselves/others. Spiritual teachings encourage us to “overcome our shadow and dwell in the eternal light of the divine”.
We have to be careful and discerning: what our mind declares as negative/bad/dark doesn’t necessarily have to be avoided. The night is an equally valid part of the night-day-cycle. Is night to be feared more than day? Are our so-called "shadow sides" worth less than our “sunny sides”?
Instead of letting our mind freely categorise, judge and control our life, can we embrace the kaleidoscope of all that is and assess the meaning of it for our life, in relation to our Self, in a neutral and more objective way? Can we learn to navigate through dark and light, night and day, anger and joy, male and female in a balanced way? Not by suppressing or overemphasize one over the other, but by acknowledging the value and the meaning of each in relation to our Self, embracing “all that is” with love - and thus become whole.
Be authentic – be true to yourself! We hear this a lot and remind each other of how important it is.
But what does “being authentic” actually mean?
In a dictionary you can find explanations like this: “of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine”. In existentialist philosophy authentic was described as: “relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life”. The word originates from authentes: autos meaning “self” plus hentes meaning “doer, being” – one who acts on one’s own authority.
Being authentic in this sense means: taking self-responsibility and being true to your Self.
Once upon a time being/living was identical with being authentic. Nowadays, people want to be “more authentic” and remind each other of how important it is to follow their inner truth. I see this “trend”, that has been noticeable since a few decades, as another sign for our increasing dis-connection from Self.
I see the current cry for more authenticity as a cry for more connection to Self. It is a call to do a revision of our mind-sets, based on judgments, values, personal experiences, beliefs, cultural/social environment, etc., and an invitation to evaluate and discern what rings true to our Self, what resonates with our core being, with our nature.
To re-establish “authenticity”, our connection to Self, can sometimes be tricky as the mind interferes and keeps bombarding us with thoughts and instructions of how to be and what to do. In order to successfully re-connect, we need to
Keep your heart clear and transparent,
Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.
How did we lose our “authenticity”?
Our mind plays a huge role in this. Modern day industrialised societies focus on the mind and its qualities. We are trained and encouraged to use our mind and intellect for most tasks at hand. The mind is constantly running the show: we think up concepts, programs, schedules, to-do-lists… We internalise concepts, programs, beliefs, opinions, values, etc. - and the mind creates different categories and “mind-sets”, often installed in us by others, initiated by extrinsic factors, and perpetualised by our mind throughout our lives. Some of these “mind-sets” literally became hardwired into our body system and are passed on from generation to generation (e.g. the fear of darkness).
Cultural, social, spiritual concepts, conventions and traditions – we are permanently bombarded with images and templates of “how to be…”: how to be successful, how to be socially, culturally accepted, how to be “the good guy”, how to do “the right thing”…
Interestingly, internalising and following these external factors and images didn’t lead us to a happier and healthier life. Why not? Because we lost the connection to our Self/nature in the process. Instead of connecting with the life-supporting energy field within/without us, we are distracted by our minds that tell us what to do and how to be.
Are you constantly thinking about “stuff”, are your thoughts spinning around how to create a “good life” for your Self and your loved ones? Is your head full of “things to do” and “ways to be”? Our minds never stop to create templates and guidelines for “a good life” (or "a bad life" for that matter): you have to exercise at least … times a week to be fit and healthy, you have to get a degree in order to be successful, success is measured by financial wealth, children have to go to school if they want to succeed in life… the list of “mind-sets” is ever-changing and goes on and on.
The mind is a powerful and creative tool. But like with any tool: if we don’t control it, if we do not use it purposefully and consciously, it can also be counterproductive. In order to use the mind wisely and appropriately, we need to do some “quality control”. Instead of blindly following and internalising the mind’s abundance of thoughts and images, we need to revise and review them. We need to “check in”, evaluate and test, if these templates and mind-sets resonate with our core being, with our nature. If we don't do this, we disconnect and deviate from ourselves and lose our “authenticity”.
'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
Another factor that affects our “connection channels” is nutrition. There is a lot of information out there and I am sure you are already well informed. However, it is sometimes good to remind ourselves of the importance to stay connected to a healthy flow of energy on all levels.
A lot of people hugely depend on supermarkets to source their food. They eat a lot of highly processed food. And even the “healthy” options on the shelves aren’t giving them the life energy they’d need to function in an optimal way: vegetables and fruit in supermarkets have often traveled a long way, are treated to extend their shelf-life, are harvested when not fully ripened, come from monocultures growing on depleted soil, etc. = they do not contain the nutritional value of a plant growing in a healthy, naturally balanced environment.
Another often underestimated and well-hidden factor in supermarket and processed food is sugar: producers use sugar in almost every processed product, even in the “healthy” and organic ones - check out in how many organic products on the market you'll find "organic cane sugar", agave syrup or other commonly used "healthy" sugar options. They all add up in your body and affect your body-mind-soul energy balance. We are literally clogging all our systems with the food we eat.
I know from my own experience as a “sugar addict” and “nutri freak” who has experimented with lots of different diets how much our eating affects our ability to connect. “Sweet cravings” are hardwired in our brain: to look for sweets was beneficial for survival when we still lived in caves. However, like with a lot of other things, we way overdo it in current mainstream society. Nowadays, sugar & sweet treats are widely available (and sugar consumption is actively promoted). We imprint our children and ourselves on sugar, install sugary habits and use it in quantities that are simply life-destructing. We numb our Selves and compensate the destructive effects of sugar-eating by… eating more sugar. Sugar = quick high.
"Tired, overworked, depressed, challenged? Have a sweet treat and you’ll feel better instantly."
I believe that a lack of (self-) love and (self-) connection triggers the over-consumption of sugary products. This means that it is easier to overcome (sugar) cravings and to open connection channels on the body-mind-soul level if we focus on establishing and maintaining a close relationship and connection to ourselves.
Nature helps me to do this and has a recalibrating effect. I found that it helps me immensely to resist the omnipresent sweet temptation when I am a) slowing down, and b) immerse my Self in nature. I have observed this effect not only on my Self, but on many people.
By the way: Damon Gameau just released a good movie about the effect of sugar on the body – watch it, even if you know already a lot about this topic (That Sugar Film).
The story of interbeing