My Neighbor, My Friend
When we move into a new neighborhood, we expect so many things. I have written about expectations before. So, it is important for me to say again, that if we have expectations in life – we are soon greatly disappointed.
Regardless of this fact, there is a part of us that feels the need to be a part of life and part of a community. And there are also expectations we have about fitting in. Like, waving at a passing neighbor. Like...shouting a warm Hello across the yard as that neighbor comes out his front door. Maybe even baking a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies and sharing them with the people next door.
Now, even though we might not exactly fit in. Or be the person everyone wants to hang out with. There is this one thing – called belonging and that is what most of us hope for when we come to know our neighbors. We just want to be a part of the community and a neighborhood...and therefore we want to be respected by the neighbors who live next door. If we don't hang out - we just want to be left alone and allowed to do so,
There are other expectations that are important when we move somewhere new. Like we expect others to not be so suspicious of us. Like, we expect others to not do a background check. What we want, after all, is for them to give us a chance without judgement. We don't expect spies and surveillance 24/7.
And, we don't want our pictures taken for future use or a smear campaign.
But there is one big thing we don't want the most ...and that is we don't want a neighbor spreading a lie about who we are or what we have done in our past. We want others to think highly of us or that we are ok – and if we fail and are not perfect at times, we surely hope for forgiveness for our oversights.
So, even though we want our lives to be a certain way…most of the time it just doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. Or maybe we are just hoping for too much.
Let’s go back a little...
In the old days. Some years back - way before there were online social media sites and cell phones carried around in our hand. Life was a tad bit different.
And people were a little more accepting. They went through harder times as it turns out - so they came to rely on each other a little more. Having someone near meant support and help when needed. There was more poverty and more losses in those older days too. And less food. Still, these people had manners. Or if they didn't - they kept the thing irritating them or bothering them to themselves and had respect enough to leave someone else alone.
Sure, people gossiped…everyone does…but in time, the subject or person being talked about faded away. People moved on in those days. Even more, life, like I said was terribly hard in earlier years and so people were occupied with surviving.
Yeah...ok, It sounds like I am living in a fantasy world with this. Like I think everything was utopic and wonderful. Hardly.
What I am saying is, if we want certain things out of life and living, we need to be able to present with those same qualities or aspects in ourselves to others. And we need to not expect perfection in an imperfect system.
There is an old saying and pretty much an age old rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Meaning – treat others kindly and then you will most likely receive the same treatment.
On the other side of this do unto others - coin - is a flip side and this is - if you treat someone mean - there would most likely be retaliation and getting even in return. With the same thinking in mind.
So, let's ask a question - what happened in the last 50 or so years to influence people and to shove them in the direction of outright narcissism and intolerance? And bad behavior?
Well, for me, the first thing that comes to mind is the “Me First” fad which came about in the 1970s.
This was a time of self-discovery. Self-awareness. Self-actualization. Self-importance. Self-absorption. And finally self-indulgence. By the way - these are the exact same traits of a narcissist.
What really is narcissism?
Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's idealized self-image and attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where a young man named Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
With these changes in people came an attitude and then sayings that became popular with the public. Sayings, in fact, that appeared to be rude and inconsiderate but over time, accepted nonetheless.
There were all sorts of mottos and slogans that helped to propel a person over the good manner quandary.
Like “love means never having to say your sorry.” This meant if you upset someone...it was there problem if they didn't get over it. Not yours.
Here are other sayings. "It’s your thing – do what you want to do.” Like “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”
And no accountability for our own misgivings or wrongful behavior.
Then there's the saying - Shit happens. or Shut Up. Sit on it! (Happy Days). Up your nose with a rubber hose (Welcome Back, Kotter). You big dummy (Sanford & Son) , Edith Stifle! (All in the Family)
Society became fixated on self-attainment, total freedom of expression and also feeding an ego with pleasures of thought and self-awareness and self-importance.
This was the age of Self-Awareness Seminars. The programs that showed people how to center their world on their own being. Like this one.
Existential therapy focuses on free-will, self-determination, and the search for meaning—often centering on the self rather than on the symptom. The approach emphasizes a person’s capacity to make rational choices and to develop to their maximum potential.
The existential approach stresses that: All people have the capacity for self-awareness. Each person has a unique identity that can be known only through relationships with others.
People must continually re-create themselves because life’s meaning constantly changes. Anxiety is part of the human condition.
And what is existential therapy recommended for?
It is used for -
Psychological problems—like substance abuse—resulting from an inhibited ability to make authentic, meaningful, and self-directed choices about how to live, according to the existential approach.
it is used in interventions often aimed to increase self-awareness and self-understanding.
Existential psychotherapists try to comprehend and alleviate a variety of symptoms, including excessive anxiety, apathy, alienation, nihilism, avoidance, shame, addiction, despair, depression, guilt, anger, rage, resentment, embitterment, purposelessness, psychosis, and violence.
These seminars also focus on life-enhancing experiences like relationships, love, caring, commitment, courage, creativity, power, will, presence, spirituality, individuation, self-actualization, authenticity, acceptance, transcendence, and awe.
Now, I am not saying that a program like this is bad exactly…but I feel the problem with it and others like it - are that they tend to make a person or persons self-focus to the point of doing little else. Over-fixating and overcompensating on the inner being and forgetting about everyone else in life. Creating a loop of rumination of the self and becoming transfixed and stuck on the self brain.
I have found that when a person can't get past the mind or the self - this person becomes a prisoner to it and then mental illness ensues. Healthy people are the ones busy living life and connecting to and being aware of others close to them.
There is one more issue I have with self-awareness and demanding of respect of the self - there are over 8 billion people on this planet - can you imagine if everyone thought the same way? And everyone walked all over everyone at the same time to get recognized and respected?
I want to point out here that these existential focusing programs….encouraged people to change and with this change comes the idea that it was okay to be selfish while changing.
In my opinion. Not so good.
So, the 70s, was a time of personal growth. Self-esteem. And the premise that – nothing else in this world is as important as we are. The self. So, always put yourself first.
I believe the biggest problem with this thinking; it has caused people to develop a false reality about their own uniqueness and specialness in the world. Even making them border on psychosis with the ideology.
And over time – possibly due to the influence and training and observation through self-awareness training and programs - it wasn’t that long before more and more people began to join ranks in the ME FIRST Universe. And public bullying became paramount.
It was at this time that people began to cast off good manners. It took work to have manners, after all, and the self aware individual didn't want to work on ideas or logic that felt cumbersome and meant they had to try.
Instead, they chose to to walk all over other people...in the quest for self-actualization and self-importance. Without respect. Without love. Without concern.
So, if we want to know what happened to the good neighbors and to the billions of members of a society over many, many decades who once cared and then didn't.
And who had changed - we can look at the trend over time to self-fixate and ruminate. And also see how these people who choose to do so...pushed other people out of our way while doing it.
This self-indulgence has gone on so long…most people are without moral compass today. And without feelings for others. There is no remorse or forgiveness.
So, in my opinion, the big difference in people and the neighborhood today as we see it and also the community - is since there is a need for people to feel in control, have power and be important - the focus would be on who is in that control...and most importantly...who is in the driver's seat. The narcissist.
Today, our neighborhoods are filled with self enlightened and self-important narcissists.
Now, if anyone of us gets in the way of narcissism and that self-importance that goes along with it - we ultimately end up getting in the path of not just one but an entire group of people who all go along with the narcissist.
And who then enact punishment to avenge the one in charge. In this case - mob stalking. It is at this point, we who stand out - are put in our place with extreme behavior modification, conditioning and torment.
So, going back to when we moved in - we felt we were finally home. We couldn't see what was lurking around the corner. We were unsuspecting and glad with the newness of change. That we could start over in a new place with new friends.
We saw the flowers blooming in the garden bed. We noted the scent of gardenia that lined the sidewalk. We closed our eyes and heard birds singing. It made our heart feel light. We just wanted a place with a roof over our head, after all. The place where we could spend time with family. Hold the cat in our lap and watch a good movie.
But it wasn't long, after the vision of belonging and feeling a lightness in our soul...that we opened our eyes to the truth. Mob stalking and mob thinking had taken hold of the community and at its core - a narcissist. And many other narcissists beside her.