Personal Growth, Women

“Cleaning Out My Closet of Socialization”

I am cleaning out my closet of “socialization” and only keeping those threads of socialization that fit me, and those that need thrown out I am not donating, some things deserve to be thrown out with the trash.
1. A woman is only complete with a man (trash)
2. Judge people by their position or their family name (trash)
3. A good mother kills herself to give everything possible to her children (trash)
4. Just because a person is beautiful on the outside they are beautiful on the inside(trash)
5. Life is fair (trash)
6. Happily ever after fairy tales (trash)
7. Material possessions bring happiness (trash)
8. All people are logical (trash)
9. All people play fair (trash)
10. Standing up for yourself is being selfish (trash)
11. Never say no to people (trash)
12. I must be perfect (trash)
13. Trust people in what they say (trash)
14. Everything is my fault (trash)
15. People get what they deserve (trash)
16. Do unto others what they do unto you (trash)
17. Revenge is sweet (trash)
18. I can control people, and people can control me (trash)
19. People that perform the rituals of their religion, behave in accordance with the virtues and values of a religion/spirituality (trash)
20. Truth and justice will always prevail in the end (trash)

The socialization that I will keep in my closet:
1. Trust in what people do, instead of what they say.
2. I can only make myself complete.
3. Life is unfair, but still act in accordance with love, respect, compassion, integrity, and authenticity.
4. Sometimes giving everything to our children makes them dependent, and sometimes we have to let them learn lessons on their own to build their character. We need to tell them no at times.
5. The only thing I can definitively control in my life is my own actions.
6. It is ok to say no to people when we do not have the time and resources. It is ok to say no to people when it violates your own personal boundaries or ethics.
7. I am human and I make mistakes, other people are humans and they make mistakes. Only cut those people off from you that continuously make mistakes without regret of how their mistakes have negatively affected other people. Acknowledge your own mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and do not live in guilt, but learn from your mistakes.
8. Truth and justice do not always prevail, although we should keep trying to make the world a better place.
9. Love people for their authentic selves, and not for their outward appearances and possessions.
10. Trust your intuition, but do not jump to conclusions.
11. Religion/spirituality should be carried out through in how we live life and treat other people; the rituals are a reminder of these virtues.
12. My experiences may shape me, but they do not define me.

Adlerian Psychology, Memories, Relationships

Haunting Memories

Il Duomo
I wish I had the ability to edit my memories like a filmmaker has the ability to edit, cut, and throw out certain scenes of a movie. Recalling our memories, both positive memories and negative memories can freeze us into place, refusing to let ourselves experience our life in our current place. Difficult memories can throw us into the despair of guilt and questioning why has this happened to me. Even positive memories of the past where aspects of our life have changed can send us into questioning, “Where did it all go wrong? How did it change?”.

As a therapist, I was trained in Adlerian psychology, one of the techniques I often used with clients was recollection of memories, as a way to gauge the mindset and emotional frame of a client as they progressed through therapy. The basis is that the memories we are able to recall are an avenue of discovering how this person is functioning emotionally and psychologically. For the first time in my career in psychology, I personally question the effectiveness of this technique. The memories that are flooding my own mind right now are of times when my life appeared to be blissful. Those memories are not an account of my emotional state, but a painful memory of how some people change through time into something that does not match our memories of the past.

I want to banish those memories from my recollection. They haunt me like a ghost creeping through the recesses of not only my conscious states, but also my dreams. The memories send me into a despair of wishing to try to turn the clock back to a time in which the ghost of my memories was the person I see standing before me. The ghost that lives in my memories is dead, although the bodily form still exists. The essence of who they were, or at least who I thought they were in my memories has been banished from the living, leaving both my thoughts and soul haunted by a phantom that lives in human form, but the soul I thought I knew is now is just a memory of the past.

Humanistic Psychology, materialism, Personal Growth, Psychology, spirituality

Can a Vulture Become a Dove?

It is the simplest of humans that try to mold a version of perfection by their adornments . A human that does not see beyond their socialized version of perfection is but an empty vessel that has failed to find their own worth and tries to adorn themselves with material objects in finding some type of worth to not only themselves, but to others as well. A superficial self that in their lust for finding some type of feeling of worth, becomes engrossed in the art of deception, lies, and valuing the materialistic objects of the world over integrity, respect, honesty, and empathy. I sometimes wish I could escape this world into a utopia where music, arts, knowledge, words, nature, authenticity, honesty, caring, kindness, and love were the prized human values. Where the vulgar behavior of impression management through material objects, power, and control were considered vile, evil, and unsightly.

Lessons in life have taught me that those who are so willing to prostitute their ethics and values in life in able to obtain monetary gain, power, or control are also the very same people who lose their humanity. Their narcissistic needs for power, control, and materialistic desires turn them into vultures circling the skies scouring the landscape of those that they perceive weak or unworthy. These vultures are not hard to identify. They are typically visibly on display if you only take the time to scan their behaviors. These people will yell, degrade, and abuse others that they perceive as less than them because of social status, nationality, race, or appearance. These people will try to charm and dazzle those that they perceive they have something to gain. These people will pursue objects that they see as for the elite, while failing to see the beauty of another person’s essence that they have just disregarded as useless because they do not have the ability to bolster their own self through their connection with that human being.

Am I innocent in this whole charade of materialism? No, I am not. I have bought the designer labels that I knew came through the blood, sweat, and tears of the innocent in sweatshops. I have walked by the homeless person and only gave a swift second look, more scared if that could become my destiny versus the humanity of offering a hand to help or listen. I have been impressed with material objects, titles, power, and superficial prestige. Although I have also learned that some of the richest people, either in character, or in talents, are often those that often go unseen in our materialistic world. I have learned that the vultures of materialistic values will pick the very life out of an individual as long as it serves their own shallow needs, only to discard that individual once they no longer serve a purpose. I have also learned that these vultures often fly in circles together and avoiding their territory serves as a form of both mental and physical preservation of the human spirit. The vultures not only feed off the dead of others, but will feed off each other as well. Being completely honest, I have even found myself flying among the vultures as I struggled to find my own identity. I have left the flock and I am trying to become a dove; representing peace, harmony, respect, and the humanistic vision of extending the olive branch of caring, kindness, and empathy. As I continue my internal transformation, I question can I ever become the dove completely shedding the feathers of the vulture, to fly a path of integrity, respect, honesty, and kindness and obliterate my former conditioning of the vulture?

Bias, Cross Cultural, education, Judgement, Personal Growth, prejudice, Psychology, Saudi Arabia, Stereotypes

The Biggest Lie: I Don’t Have Any Biases

my reality
How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t have any biases against any people!”? Whenever I hear people comment that they are free of biases, prejudice, or stereotypes in their daily living, I always question how authentic or honest they are being with others, and perhaps even themselves? As human beings, we engage in a process of “cognitive shortcuts” in which we tend to classify our environment and other humans into categories. Stereotyping is a categorical process that the human species consciously and unconsciously engages in that serves as a mechanism of trying to arrange our world in an orderly fashion where people are identified as belonging to groups based on race, gender, nationality, religion, ideology, social economic class, etc. We develop a set of characteristics associated with these groups are seen as being representative to the individuals that compose these groups (Crisp & Turner, 2010; Fiske, 2010; Feldman, 2009; Stangor, 2009; Wright & Taylor, 2007).

Traditionally, stereotypes have been associated as a phenomenon that leads to bias, prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization of people (Crisp & Turner, 2010; Feldman, 2009). Hence, researchers, academians, social scientists, and others have examined ways to reduce or eliminate stereotypes. Although stereotyping can lead to erroneous beliefs about a group of people, and individuals, the schematic processing does help individuals navigate their social worlds. The stereotypes we hold have been socialized through others around us, as well our vicarious experiences we have encountered through living. For example, living in Saudi Arabia, I found out through my own experiences of living, that men with long beards and short thobes (the traditional white dress of Arab men in the Gulf region) would typically not feel comfortable to interact with me because I am female. The first time I offered my hand to shake with an individual that had these traits, I was told “I do not shake hands with females”, I found myself blushing with embarrassment. Other experiences and comments I heard from others , as well as the media led me to develop a negative stereotype whenever I saw a Middle Eastern man with a long beard, and short thobe.

These stereotypes can often help us, but there is also a darker side that may lead us to making erroneous conclusions and decisions as well. My lesson in this happened one time on a return flight from Europe to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I was sitting in first class with my husband and across the aisle was another man dressed in designer labeled clothes from head to toes. I viewed him as progressive, open-minded, and most likely well educated. Another man who had a long-beard, a short thobe, and was wearing the traditional ship-ships (traditional Arab sandals worn by men in the Gulf) boarded the plane with his family. I automatically assumed this man was conservative and represented repression to me. During the flight, the two men were exchanging heated words in Arabic. Based on my stereotypes, and my limited comprehension of Arabic, I faulted the man with the long beard. Later as I discussed the events with my husband, I was astonished to find out that the well-dressed man across the aisle from us was upset that the man with the long beard had been allowed to put his carry-on in the first class cabin, even though he was ticketed for economy seating. In reality, the individual who had been the oppressor in this situation had been the man who was well dressed and using an individual’s ticketing status as a social construct in which to marginalize another human being. I found myself feeling uncomfortable with my own recognition that I had jumped to conclusions of the situation based on the superficial appearances of the two men.

Instead of eliminating stereotypical processes, we need to focus on developing a better understanding of how stereotypical thinking can lead to situations where negative outcomes, such as prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization can occur (Aronson & McGline, 2009; Crisp & Turner, 2010; Fiske, 2010). More specifically, we need to acknowledge some of our own stereotypical thinking and biases that exist as part of the process of being human with our need to categorize and classify the people around us. By making these personal acknowledgements to ourselves, it gives us the understanding and reasoning to question at times our own actions, assumptions, and behaviors that can at times serve to bias our views of others.

Aronson, J. & McGline, M. (2009). Ch. 8: Stereotype and social identity threat. In Nelson, T. (Ed.) Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010). Chapter 7: Prejudice. In Essential social psychology (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Fisk, S. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Feldman, R. (2009). Essentials of understanding psychology (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Stangor, C. (2009). Ch. 1: The study of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination within social psychology: A quick history of theory and research. In Nelson, T. (Ed.) Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Wright, S. & Taylor, D. (2007). Chapter 16: The social psychology of cultural diversity: Social stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In Hogg, M. A., & Cooper, J. M. (Eds.). (2007). The Sage handbook of social psychology (concise student ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage