Divide and conquer…

"Vrijeme po mom satu," photography by Dolores Juhas (2008). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how we sometimes allow “life” (a.k.a. other people and/or things) to get in our way of actually living.  That is, we devote our time to making sure that we are “doing the right thing” by others, or simply “doing the right thing” in general, based upon some internalized impression of societal expectations (this, I believe, is especially true for women).

In so doing, we may be opening ourselves up to an onslaught of external and internal psychologically damaging attacks.  You might be asking yourself at this point, “How might this be so, D.?”

Divide… 
Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something solely for you… without thinking about the impact that it would make on someone else, or something else in your life?  Now, mind you, I am not advocating a libertine anarchistic society here…  I am simply wondering, when was the last time that you asked yourself truly “What do I want from life?” without worrying about the what-ifs and the who-wouldn’t-like-its?
From an early age, we are taught societal expectations: the order of our cultural world and how we are to operate within it.  We are taught to act against our natural instinct and/or desires if our culture dictates it, in order to preserve what is considered society.   For the most part, this system has meant security and the endurance of many civilizations.  We have developed useful laws because of societal expectations, which come in quite handy at times (I tend to think about murderers being put in jail, etc.)
There are, however, other “laws” or expectations that are more implicit.  I could describe these expectations as insidious with the sole purpose of denying certain individuals the individuals the right to improved self-esteem and self-actualization.   These expectations can be as explicit as an individual remaining a member of his or her caste system (such as one finds in India), or implicit as a simple refusal of college attendance by parents to their child, because in his or her family it is expected that after high school everyone works (a good example is the movie, “Real Women Have Curves“).

"Arms Full of Words," photography by Dolores Juhas (2011). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

In essence we learn from the world around us that it is important to divide ourselves, between our needs and wants… and the expectations of “world” around us –  It is not surprising then that some people often feel as though “no one knows who they really are…”  We are expected to hide the sides and parts that bring about discomfort to others:

  • the side that shows too much sadness
  • the side that shows too much anger
  • the side that shows too much fear
  • the side that shows too much happiness
  • the side that shows too much love
  • the side that shows too much jealousy
  • the side that shows too much disgust
  • the side that shows too much surprise
  • the side that shows too much shame
  • the side that shows too much guilt
  • the part that is  the alcoholic
  • the part that is the drug addict
  • the part that is the sex addict
  • the part that is the verbal abuser
  • the part that is  the sexual abuser
  • the part that is the physical abuser
  • the part that is beyond our control
  • the part that is unknown to us
  • the part that is mentally ill
  • the part that is lost to us

I am sure there are more sides or parts that I could list and that you have thought about from your own life or from the lives of those you know.  My thought is simply, what if we were simply allowed to see ourselves holistically?  What would it mean to understand our multiple parts?  The parts that may be deemed “dark” or “broken” or “unsuitable” for our society as well as the parts for which we can and do express pride?

When we allow for others to say, “Hide yourself!” or “Deny who you are!” or “Forget what you have done!”  what good is this?  When we do not accept ourselves for who we are and for what we are capable of doing (both the good and the not-so-good), are we not simply allowing for a division of ourselves?  Are we not allowing for others to have the ability to dictate to us how we should live our lives?  Are we not allowing for others to have control over who we are?

Conquer…

"True Mirror Image," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

I have spent many years pulling together the many parts of myself, and as a result I am able to face my reflection in the mirror every morning and smile.  I no longer ask myself the question, “Who I am?” with a sense of foreboding and downright misery.  Rather, I am happy to explore my developing self and to understand that who I am is a dynamic entity, continually growing – This was not an easy process that simply occurred overnight.

 When I write about conquering, I am writing about this two-fold.  That is, how others can conquer us via our perceived and self-perceived weaknesses and how we can conquer our self-perceived weakness by making them into strengths, or by building new skills and thus creating new strengths.

It is my perception that is fairly easy to understand what a person’s weaknesses are within a short period of time.  In American culture, we usually reference our weakness(es) in some off-hand/joking manner, in order to acknowledge while simultaneously dismiss the severity of the weakness with believe we have.  After all, American culture is one that is strength-based and asks of the individual to operate independently – There is no place for weaknesses (perceived or otherwise)… At least, this has been the impression that has been made on me over the past two decades.

"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

In the American drive towards efficiency and effectiveness, it appears there is an ongoing “weeding out” process in many business and schools.  It something along the lines of the game show, “The Weakest Link”… and everyone fears that he or she will be “it.”  Thus, we blunt our affect, we deny our psychological difficulties, we overwork ourselves, and overindulge ourselves… all in the name of progress and societal expectation.  Then at age 65 or later, we say… “Perhaps I can stop now… Wait? Do I have Social Security? Is it enough?  Perhaps I should work at Wal-Mart.” Life has effectively conquered us… as we have not truly been allowed to live it… It has lived us, used up our years.

My point is that we need to live now.  We need to conquer ourselves now through accepting who are holistically.  It is in accepting the many parts of yourself that you will find inner-peace.  It is through inner-peace that time will be more in your command, and you will allow yourself to live your time… to build and live worthwhile and enriching life.

Monday, 26th of Sept.: Emotional Capital – Making an investment in yourself.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr 

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2 thoughts on “Divide and conquer…

  1. John Pfeiffer says:

    Interesting questions but it all seems a prelude to some deeper thinking and analysis: what are some ways that people might prevent negative divisions (i.e. “push back” against society’s “back of the bus” mentality)? Also intriguing for me: how does American “divide and conquer” contrast with Japan or France? Are there things that we can learn from other societies (or even from the past?)

    • Diedré Blake says:

      John,

      Thank you so very much for writing. My apologies for the delay in response as I have been away from my blog. I suppose I would begin by asking you if there is such a thing as “[preventing] negative divisions.” Is it not also through divisiveness that we are caused to confront uncomfortable truths or expose insidious lies; and caused to seek and ultimately find compromise? I will own my ignorance on Japanese culture and invite you to share with me what you understand. In regards to France and this topic, I immediately think of its attempt at cultural homogeny by not recognizing (or perhaps ‘identifying’ might be a better word) the ethnicity of its citizens. What then does it mean when we are forced by others or ourselves to be ‘whole’ without recognizing, understanding, and ultimately accepting (creating a space for) our different parts?

      I believe that there is always something to be learned from the past (I am often looking at my own and others for answers to certain issues.) Given the speed of time in our present world, one may not even have to look too far back in past to see how the same mistakes have been made repeatedly as well as what has been successful in creating positive human connection. And yes, I believe too that it is important to explore cultures outside of our own (hence, I am here in Italy ;)). One thing, John, I wonder, do you know in which culture it is that man does not seek to attain power?

      The essence of this posting was the discussion of self-mastery. After all, if there is self-contentment, what use is there for feelings of jealousy, possession, greed, anger, etc.? Yes, this is a simplification of my thought. At a microscopic level, however, I hope that this blog will begin to help others begin (or return to) a path that leads them not towards division (either with self or others) but towards coherence. I know that this is what I am seeking to do for myself.

      We begin where we are… we change what we can… Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts.

      Best of regards,
      D.

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