Past relationships affect the way we experience current interactions but luckily some people have empathy

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look at the bright side,
you depressed dead weight

he talks to me,
but actually I hear you

his sweet words turn into your poison,
his life situation into your hoax

i see you, feel you, taste you
fear you
in him

softness, surprising softness
and I know it can’t be you

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Don’t mind your own business

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I’m watching a tv series where once again maturity is being depicted as the ability to make “tough decisions”, them being decisions ignoring pain and suffering of others for the sake of personal or business profit. And for the first time, I am formulating a clear chain of thoughts and questions about this matter, starting with, that’s kinda bullshit. Making a decision for profit is easy. The world around us runs on hedonism.

The next thought in line is, why is this such a common belief. Where does it come from? Why do even I kinda believe that being mature means having the ability to disconnect from empathy? Why are we taught from early on that involving on an emotional level is a sign of.. stupidity? Or immaturity?

Seeing that particular scene of the tv series made it strikingly clear: the people behind this way of thinking are the ones benefiting from it. And when you think of it in the real world, it is true aswell. It’s the bully that will tell everyone to mind their own business. It’s the corporate criminal vouching for secret operations. It’s the narcissist isolating you from other people and their help. All this to stop people from seeing how their actions cause hurt and pain because if that would be seen, people would step in and stop them.

Or would they?

I have been now twice in my life in a long lasting situation where I have been quite clearly a victim of narcissistic abuse. In both cases one of the most difficult things to deal with has been the way even my closest friends have chosen to look away and to stay silent. I’ve heard reasoning like, “well that person hasn’t done anything bad to me” or “the things between you two aren’t really my business”. In other words, these friends have chosen to ignore how I have been treated, how much it has hurt me and how wrong this other person has done. Going to an extreme now, but I’m sure Hitler was nice to some people aswell so maybe these people really weren’t in a position to do anything. Agree? No?

These situations have been a real life example of how society has molded our thinking and rooted deep the beliefs that all personal matters should be dealt with behind closed doors. People sharing their difficulties openly get all kinds of labels from attention seeking to difficult. And again, discrediting the victims by labeling them is a powerful way for the abusers to get away.

Perhaps going through those episodes and having to heal from them, being more aware of abuse of the same kind in my social environment and studying these issues deeply due to the seed of interest and need to understand that my own experiences planted, I am firm in my conclusion that this kind of thinking is poisonous. By disconnecting from empathy, by isolating people to deal alone with their issues, by looking away and not interfering, we create a culture of enabling – for the wrong doers. We do exactly what is “good” for them.

We steal away each other’s opportunity to truly experience communities’ healing power. We isolate our sensitivity and vulnerability and enforce masks and roles. If we do not have a culture of empathy, listening and reciprocal care taking, we end up lonely. True connection becomes a rarity and alone we are so much more easily taken advantage of. Talk about a negative cycle…

During human history there have been certain individuals brave enough to look into how whole cultures have been dealt wrong. I’m sure that Dr. Luther King Jr was seen as an extremely difficult person by some folks at that time. Why be so loud about those things? Why not just deal with it quietly like everyone else? And heck, Gandhi if someone is a pain in the butt. For the wrong doers.

So, why are there people who can and will put their lives on the line just to do good? And we cheer for them. We call them heroes. Inspired by them, we share news and articles on social media, we endorse feminist values, environmental values, we say we want to fight racism, pollution, violence, war… and yet, when faced with a real life situation where a simple act of good could change so much, we choose to do nothing. We don’t want to interfere in what is “not our business”.

I suppose that having to go through what I’ve been through, I am more prone to actually say it out loud if I see something I think is wrong. I am also not afraid to behave in ways coherent with this view. I most certainly do not applaud for “diplomats” who want to stay neutral in situations where there clearly is a wrong doer and a victim. There are situations where simply because of the pain of the victim, there is no such a thing as neutrality.

I am forever thankful to the two women who stepped up and tried to do what was right even when both of them were also different level victims the same situation. Knowing how hard it was, how much courage it took and how uncomfortable it must have felt, I cannot be more thankful that at least someone was on my side and was not hesitating to say and show with their behavior that what was happening was not ok.

The interesting and scary thing is how I am still ashamed and scared to talk about these things. I talk about them again, and again, and again because I have to. Words are what slowly take the poison of those people out of my system. Being loud about these things is what makes me feel like at least I’m trying to do something about it and not just enhancing the culture of silence and playing into the pockets of the abusers. Words are my only weapon of fighting what I know is still going on. Words are my hope that someone out there, going through similar shit, reads this and understand that it is ok to talk about it. It is ok not to be alone with the pain.

I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to be that person who doesn’t just look away, who doesn’t find “reasonable” excuses to keep ignoring someone else’s suffering. Be the person who takes the extra step, be the one talking about these things even if it makes others uncomfortable. Don’t just mind your own business. Mind about other people aswell, mind about what’s right.

Transformation

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The most beautiful butterflies have an ugly history.

Before they had colorful wings, they were grey.

They didn’t choose to be grey but that’s how life made them.

First they were worms and then life locked them inside a shell, temporarily killed them.

But only the momentary death unveiled their true glory,

the abandonement of what they grew up to be showed what they were meant to be.

Do not think that the butterfly could ever fly if she wasn’t a crawling, grey, wingless worm first.

Her wings became strong and graceful because she had to take her time.

Her colors protect her because she grew into the beautiful being she is.

She flies free because she transformed like life always meant her to.

 

via Daily Prompt: Transformation

Life is a test and we all fail

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In the school of life, we get to do the tests we need to do in order to move on to the next level of self knowledge and survival skills.

Sometimes it seems, though, that the universe gets confused and hands on wrong events. We get to face difficulties and challenges that break us and bring us down. Some people will not pass the test and their lives crumble. Some people end up in impossible, desperate situations with no sense of getting out of it.

There’s a saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And sure, if we get normal lemons, we might be able to juice them and turn them into something nice. But imagine a situation where you get a giant pile of lemons, you don’t have a juicer, no money to buy one and the only help people give you is the cliche and an expectation of easy survival on top of it. Doesn’t seem like a good test, does it, when the chances of doing well are next to none.

Sometimes it is impossible to rise and shine. Some tests are impossible to pass. Sometimes it takes days, weeks, months or even years to get over a “failure”. Many times the only way of dealing with a test is to walk away from it. But we humans tend to be stubborn optimistic creatures and keep trying. In the Western world, we are also culturally imposed to the idea that all problems have a solution and usually there is one corret answer to each question. If we don’t get it right, the problem is within us.

I always excelled in school. I had all the answers and more. But to be honest, I have struggled with many of life’s tests.

Not knowing what’s the answer is tough. Having to create your own answers is tough. Finding an answer that other people disagree on is tough. Realizing afterwards that you want to change your answer is tough.

It has started to seem like the only right answer is, that there are no answers. Everything is complex and often murky, which leads me to question the whole starting point of my text. Are there any tests? Or does life just happen and then we survive? As a scientist, testing is a very delicate thing to me. Decent tests must be planned well and we must know what exactly are we testing. We also deliberately analyze the results to get into conclusions. Life doesn’t work like science, though. Science is a decent way of explaining, organizing and understanding the phenomena of life, but we all know that life tends to be messy, hard to predict and even confusing.

I also wonder, what would be a good answer? Are there correct outcomes in life? People have so many different ways of defining success while some don’t even bother to think about it. And in the end, the final result is the same for all of us; no one lives forever. So if life is a test, we all fail. So maybe the only way of dealing with this particular test, is to forget the test and just live.

Happy international day of failure.

via Daily Prompt: Test

Some thoughts about social media

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Media, and specially social media is a powerful platform for showing ourselves and advertising our skills and services. It can be a great way of communication; it’s usually fast, you can reach many people at the same time, you can reach people in other countries, it is not dependent on time and place. It has helped numerous individuals realize their dreams, it has made fund raising for voluntary work more easy, it has even enabled revolutions. When used right, it is a great tool for great things.

Unfortunately social media is also a powerful way of anti-socializing ourselves. When Internet contacts replace actual human contact, or when Internet fame replaces real-life achievements, things get murky. Fame is addictive and, when it is very easy to get (likes, shares, comments), it is sneaky. People don’t even realize how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or some other SoMe start invading more and more intimate situations. I don’t know when exactly did it become socially acceptable to keep your smart phone on the dinner table or chat in Facebook at the same time as you talk to your friend, but the phone seems to have become an inseparable part of our everything.

I admit that I’m no better than most people in this matter. I don’t know if others are as bothered by it, though, as I am currently. I hope they are, and I hope you are. I’m challenging myself to let go of constant availability and to use the time I would use in Facebook for studying, dancing, meeting a friend or meditating.

What might be one of the difficult things in being offline, is that we miss things. We miss event information, birthdays, messages, meetings… It’s not nice to live “in darkness” and not know about things. But as we stay online, we also miss a lot of stuff. We miss some very real and human things. Today I would’ve missed the sight of two puppies catching snowflakes. I wouldn’t have spent five minutes of sitting still, listening to my body and letting my mind run free. I wouldn’t have spent nearly two hours stretching. I will gladly keep my phone on mute as I go see one of my best friends in order to have great conversation with her. There’s so much going on around everyone of us right now and we miss a lot of that by trying to catch everything on the Internet.

Of course I’m not saying that we should shut ourselves into a bubble and only pay attention to the immediate surroundings. But I’m looking for balance, at least in my own life.

As a dancer social media is great for sharing info about events and advertising yourself. Posting videos to Youtube is nearly a must nowadays and probably most people who come to events get the invitation in Facebook. But then there are dancers who post videos but never show up in battles, or who click “attending” and that’s all they do. There are people who are Facebook friends with pretty much every dancer in the world but who don’t speak a word face to face to anyone, dancers who write intense status updates and have strong opinions about the scene that they’re not actively part of and then there are Youtube commentators who criticize or applaud videos and think they know a lot without ever going to see those battles live. Some dancers think they’ve seen everything by looking at the videos from some events and what they don’t understand that a huge amount of dancing happens in between of the videos. There’s no videos from the parties or the cyphers or people jamming during the breaks. Watching a video doesn’t tell the stories of the dancers and it doesn’t actually let you learn about the dance and to have informed opinions. People who are active in the scene, who put in the time and money to actually be there and who really, really know about these things, are definitely not the most active Internet commentators. So to get a glimpse of their experience, you’ll have to be there too. And like a friend and mentor of mine has said, Internet gives everyone an opinion – even the ones that don’t really have one and don’t know how to have one about the current topic.

Internet and social media are great for inspiring. I won’t even start guessing how many kids nowadays start dancing because they see an awesome video. But learning from videos gives you a narrow view of what’s really going on and, in worst case, you’ll learn someone else’s style and moves without understanding why you do them. And again, no one there will tell you the stories and make you fully understand the beauty and power of what dance is about. To learn that, you’ll have to leave your phone to the cloak room and go dance with dancers, take classes, enter battles and forget about trying to be famous in the Internet. Social media takes time “for free” and in the end doesn’t give you anything back. It’s the people there too, that give you. But to be a part of the scene is so much better and more fun that it’s worth all the time, money and effort it takes, because the scene doesn’t just take but it gives too. So, to me, Internet and social media are like starting points but not more than that.

We Love Dance

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I will be judging a choreography contest on Valentine’s day in Culture center Caisa. The theme is “Show me love” (what else!). The contest is open for everyone but the choreography must last 2-3 minutes and the team can have 2-5 dancers. Send your registration by the 10th of Feabruary to: ndjara.fi@gmail.com. Limited attendance!

More info here or in the facebook event.