Archive for the ‘rejection’ Tag

The Audacity To Face Our Dissatisfactions

Sunset Dragonfly

Every time we sit down in meditation, we are challenged to face our dissatisfactions. What is really going on in our body-mind? What ideas are we stubbornly holding onto? What are we afraid of? What would we rather not deal with like anger, resentment, longing, dissatisfaction, numbness? What, or who, are we rejecting? What aspect of our lives makes us want to act selfishly or childishly – by throwing a tantrum, blaming others, or refusing to participate? We don’t have to go seeking for our dissatisfactions when we meditate. Zazen, seated meditation, doesn’t have to become a grim session of taking account of how crappy our life is or how flawed we are. We also need to be open to awareness of the joy and positivity in our life; we have to be completely open to awareness of everything as it is. However, we are much more likely to be open to the positive stuff than we are to the negative stuff, so facing the dissatisfactions takes some intention and courage.

I like to think of “opening the doors of my mind” during zazen to whatever might wander in. The Zen ceremony of Segaki ritually enacts this process when the doors of the temple are opened wide and the hungry ghosts or manifestations of unresolved stuff are invited to enter. It is surprising how effective this ceremony is. Many people report unresolved stuff coming up for them as they sit zazen in the day-long retreat that follows the ceremony traditionally. In the evening there is a ceremony to send the “ghosts” on their way, but it often takes much longer to become familiar with a new ghost, learn what it has to teach, and then take the actions necessary to truly send it away.

When I open the doors of my mind as I settle on the meditation cushion, I always feel some apprehension. What am I going to discover? What am I going to have to deal with? Am I going to have to change?

When I finally summon the courage to face my dissatisfactions, I am always surprised to find that no matter how bad it is – it is less anxiety-provoking to face it than it is to avoid it. Finding something behind the door can be scary and might require serious action, but in the long run it’s better than sensing there’s something behind the door but just wondering how terrifying it might be. When we really face our dissatisfactions there is often some sense of relief. In addition, avoiding or denying parts of our reality increases our sense of separation or isolation from our whole life and from the people and situations we encounter. When we are one with our dissatisfactions we are more fully present with everything. When trying to summon the courage to face our dissatisfactions during meditation or anytime it can be helpful to recall the sense of relief or presence that can be achieved by doing so. Sometimes it also helps to imagine the worst that is likely to come through the doors of our mind and ask ourselves if it would be the end of the world; it rarely would be. Alternatively, we might talk ourselves into facing our dissatisfactions by noticing how tired we are of running away from it.

Once we are determined to be still no matter what comes at us, we expand our awareness by letting go of any idea about our life, our body-mind, or what we should or should not be experiencing at this moment. Then our dissatisfactions can arise and find itself recognized and embraced – because, after all, it’s not coming at us from outside, it was already here.


The Dark Triad


Why do bad boys always get the girl? To put it another way, why do women find it so hard to resist ruthless, deceitful narcissists? Look no further than James Bond, whose character is composed of three distinctly nasty traits: the dark triad, as this particular psychosis is referred to in psychological literature. James Bond is ruthless, he’s fearless, he’s extremely focused, and he’s mentally tough. He’s, of course, absolutely without conscience and remorse. He’s also one of the biggest philanders that’s ever worked for the British Secret Service.

While James Bond is a fictional character, he also makes for an exemplary psychological case study. The question psychologists ask in this case is what are the various personality traits and behaviors that enable those with the Bond psyche to enter into relationships with others and exploit them?

Men with a specific triumvirate of personality traits — the stratospheric self esteem of narcissism; the fearlessness, ruthlessness, impulsivity, and thrill-seeking of psychopathy; and the deceitfulness and exploitativeness of Machiavellianism can actually do pretty well for themselves out there in the echelons of society. High levels of openness, self-esteem and extraversion, combined with low levels of conscientiousness and anxiety enable James Bond types to persist in the face of potential social rejection and retaliation. Bondian psychopaths are more likely to have a greater number of sexual partners and a stronger inclination toward casual, short-term relationships than men who are low on such traits. This turns out to be evolutionarily advantageous because it expedites a dual-process alpha-male mating strategy aimed at maximizing reproductive strategy that consists of impregnate as many females as possible and hit the road before anyone calls you daddy.

James Bond craves novelty: a new Bond girl to seduce, a new villain to kill. The desire for novelty works both ways. This is exactly the kind of personality type that sets female pulses racing. If you’re looking for relationship advice here, it goes like this: date James Bond, marry Mr. Right. While James Bond may not be the man to settle down with, he has a lot to offer society. That is to say, if he exhibits non-psychotic levels of dark triad traits, a James Bond type can be a functioning psychopath.

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. It is not a coincidence that Churchill was fond of this saying. Great leaders have a lot in common with psychopaths, in that they are not afraid of making unpopular decisions. Many professions are also strongly associated with psychopathy. Surgeons, for instance, need to do the dirty work of cutting up bodies with calm, emotional detachment. Another example is the Special Forces. In Special Forces, you can’t afford to dwell on the fact that you’ve pulled the trigger and killed someone. If you do, then the next bullet could be going through your head. So you have to be very emotionally detached in kind of professions like that.

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