I am constantly amazed by the success of self-help books. I often wonder what makes people like you and me so needy of advice from others when we hold the answers ourselves.
My immense lack of training makes everything below this paragraph opinion. It is true, however, that I took my own advice many years ago and changed the way I perceived myself. It has made all the difference and helped me to achieve a successful life. I am satisfied with who and what I am. I am happy.
Nurture vs. Nature. Genetics vs. Environment. Many words have been spilled over which of these affects us the most. Many professors, I am sure, have come to blows while arguing over where anger comes from; I doubt their arguments ended in a KO; they more than likely ended in a draw. I don’t have an answer. All I know is that male-pattern baldness is a genetic trait inherited from the maternal side of the family. (Sarcasm too, now that I think about it. Hmmm.)
I break down the Human Being into three parts: Operating System, Firmware and Software.
The OS is the basic makeup of the body, the interaction of all the parts – body and mind – that, working in harmony, makes us living beings.
Firmware is the instinct that makes us seek survival. Instinct gives us fear to protect us from the unknown. We may come to understand what we fear, and find ways to deal with it, but instinct is first and foremost a survival mechanism. Instinct makes us seek safety in numbers, comfort in conversation, shelter from the storm. Firmware is the basic set of instructions that run the human being.
Software is the learned behavior that makes us unique. Software is updated through interaction with others and our environment. Updates to our software affect our firmware and its purpose positively or negatively.
I believe humans are born free of evil intent; we are born Good. We are born with a clean slate, a disk with only basic commands: eat, pee, poop, sleep, cry: survive. As we age, we receive updates to our disks. Once we learn to crawl and begin to explore our surroundings, we begin our own software updates. We only need to bang into the wall once to update our software to avoid bumping into walls again (unless we discover that it’s fun to bump into walls; then we would update our software when wall-bumping begins to hurt).
At some point, probably the terrible twos, we begin to understand tone of voice. This may be when we gain our independent spirit, or our dependence on the need for advice from others. If we gain an independent spirit, we’re probably good for life. If we don’t, then we probably live in an atmosphere of anger.
An atmosphere of anger can be debilitating. An atmosphere of anger likely includes ridicule and derision. This type of environment probably springs from two parental sources: an earnest desire to raise children to be good; a desire to raise children the way the parents were raised. Either way, the child is on the road to spending a fortune on self-help books, watching reality television, and drafting cute Facebook memes that impart the profound wisdom that “Only U can be You.”
Raising children in anger is a constant assault on their independence of spirit. Anger, derision, and ridicule beat a child down mentally. Verbal and mental abuse leave scars that take much longer to heal – if they ever do – than physical scars. Non-physical abuse leads children to believe they are somehow defective, that they are no good, and will never amount to anything. This type of abuse turns shy kids into anti-social kids. They don’t become anti-social by choice. They become that way because they believe no one wants them around. They will avoid dining in the lunchroom out of fear that people don’t like them.
By the teenage years, the constant verbal abuse has taken the form of a mental loop tape that continues to replay even after the source of the verbal abuse is gone. Mentally, the child has been trained to be a failure. Any sense of positive confidence or self-esteem has been replaced by the contents of the loop tape. When the child finds himself or herself in a success or failure situation, the loop tape replays the old message “you are no good” and failure becomes the only option. The attempt to succeed often never takes place. Fear of failure is now the driving force behind the child’s existence.
“You’re no good.”
“Boys don’t like you.”
“Don’t try, you’ll just fail.”
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
These hurtful words don’t leave scars for others to see and raise the alarm over. Kids who live with this type of abuse grow up with no one to talk to. It might be years before they allow themselves to seek help.
In many cases, these kids may eventually find successful lives but feel like failures on the inside. If they are fortunate, they may come to recognize the loop tape and what it does. If so, they will discover that the loop tape is a lie, that they aren’t really defective, or no good, or ugly, or unlovable, or failures. They will understand that they can clip the tape. Cut it. Snip it so it cannot play anymore. They will come to the realization that their software has a virus.
Software overwritten in this manner is corrupt. The anger-virus is insidious and worms its way into the entire program infecting and destroying the life the software supports. The human program lives in an atmosphere of garbage in – garbage out. The data output is skewed and unrecognizable. In some cases, the virus destroys the program completely, kills it.
However, there are anti-virus programs that can prevent and remove these infections. They come free and without ads. These programs are coded with love, affection, confidence, hope, success, positive-thinking.
But mostly love.