Over the years I have witnessed our culture going from one that was more invested in worrying about the outcomes of their behavior than of gratifying their every desire. We do seem to have moved into a time where “wanting” has overshadowed “judging” as to whether what we “want” makes sense. The ability to be wise about the decisions we make in our own behalf or those near and dear to us seems to be a lost art. Being able to develop wisdom is not something our educational system teaches, and we definitely don’t get it from the media. The great philosophers often made commentaries on wisdom and saw it as one of life’s greatest assets. It has become more and more difficult to access wisdom, due to the fact that we have become more interested in immediate gratification. Ads pummel us daily insisting that whatever their selling is something we “must” have. Their relentless marketing hypes have seeped into our unconscious and made us feel that even when we get the desired object, we are not happy with it for long for there will soon be something better on the horizon. These ads are developed with the help of scientists who now know that baiting people with the need for stuff releases dopamine, a substance in the brain that gives us pleasure. Unfortunately, when we access dopamine too frequently we need more and more to get the same response, and so we become addicted to “wanting and having”, “getting and then wanting more”. This is similar to being hooked on alcohol or drugs. Learning to be wise increases our capabilities to have self-control, which is a necessary factor in becoming a mature, evolved human being. My mother often reminded me that I had to learn to “think about what I was thinking about”. I used to rail against this statement, but now I realize that we would all be better off if we embraced her metaphor for wise living. Wisdom is important for peace, economic prudence, political leadership, and health. Without it we will continue to be at the mercy of the rewards of bad habits, self-indulgence, and immediate gratification. We are witnessing these very things everyday and it is leading us into a dark abyss. I think it’s time we all “wised up”!
I grew up in a family where the women had PhD’s in giving guilt. My grandmother could be heard sighing for miles. Sometimes it would go on for hours. It was her way of showing how unhappy she was over not getting acknowledgment over something she did for the family that went unappreciated. Every time I asked her why she was sighing she would reply “ I suffer”. It took me years to realize that she was incapable of making herself heard in a way that was not dysfunctional. My mother exhibited a different behavior. She would simply not talk until you went into severe begging, trying to get her to tell you what offense you might have committed. I not only inherited some of these behaviors but came up with some of my own. I was exceptional at pouting. When someone displeased me, I would sit in a chair with a look of complete despair. This technique takes patience because someone has to notice that you’re unhappy. Then they have to embark on a major inquisition to get you to reveal your angst. If they are preoccupied, they are not going to want to put in the effort, which leaves you without an enabler. If they finally do engage, it’s often with the same phrase. “What’s wrong, are you okay” Then comes your classic response, “If you loved me you’d know”. Over the years I learned that trying to impose guilt on family, friends or co-workers is merely another way to try to manipulate people. We develop these behaviors by imitating our family of origin and they are fairly unconscious. Becoming conscience can take years and some people simply never “get it”. It’s unfortunate that becoming proficient in communication skills is not a top priority for us as a society. We spend so much time not “saying what we mean” and “not meaning what we say.” The energy we spend on this kind of irrational dialogue is exhausting. It also creates a lot of unhappiness for all concerned. Why not spend a little time becoming more aware of what you’re saying and how it’s interpreted by those around you. Call a trusted friend and ask her/him if you are a perpetual guilt giver. It takes courage to become more evolved beings, but the end result can make all your relationships healthier, happier and more fruitful