In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about overcoming dependence and desperation.
First a quick update:
- Accused teens who burned boy came from troubled homes: 5 teens were charged in the burning of 15-year-old Michael Brewer who was burned on 80% of his body after assailants doused him with rubbing alcohol and lit him on fire. Now, just as I first asserted when this case occurred, evidence has come out that most of these accused teens were raised in families in which one or both parents have numerous criminal arrests, a history of domestic abuse or drug or alcohol problems. Can these boys be rehabilitated? Read the transcript of the radio interview I and Dr. Vicki Panaccione (BetterParentingInstitute.com) gave to Russ Morley WFTL 850 which will be posted by Thursday www.patrickwanis.com/blog
- Beware of Gurus – listen to the interview: In response to many requests, I have now posted the audio of the hour-long interview I gave to Jim Peake of MySucccessGateway.com about the three deaths at New Age Guru James Ray’s spiritual retreat and the dangers of gurus and cults. Click here.
Now, let’s talk about dependence and desperation.
Last week’s Success Newsletter about the danger of clinging to and creating gurus struck a nerve with many readers and triggered a couple of other significant points. Juliana wrote:
“Patrick, here is an opinion of a non professional: Why blame the Guru? Why is a “guru” even possible? Why does he exist, and why does he survive? Can there be a guru with no disciples? Human kind is a sick race of dysfunctional people, who live to figure out how to function, and often, for our own faults and weaknesses, we look for the answers outside ourselves, as if there was a shortcut to happiness…
With all due respect and saying this with an anthropological focus, I believe Americans in general are used to (and enjoy) being treated as kids. We always need someone watching out for us to see if we are about to kill ourselves…PEOPLE NEVER, NEVER ASK QUESTIONS, they never wonder… They go to a doctor and come out with a diagnosis that once again, they won’t question or research…. It’s time we grow up and take responsibility for our choices and the things we decide to get involved with. The powers of the guru are directly given to him by his disciples.
Let’s grow up people! Let’s take responsibility!”
Juliana raises a number of key points worth addressing. First, the desire to seek out explanations for our existence is not limited to any one culture.
From my book, “Finding God – spiritual strategies to help you find happiness, fulfillment and inner peace”:
“As a therapist, human behavior expert and life-coach, I have spent years observing, interviewing and studying people around the world. I have noticed that common to almost all people of all nationalities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds is the deep desire and longing for peace –inner peace and purpose, and the desire to be able to attach meaning to one’s life and existence.
Man has forever been searching for God, a higher being, as a way to understand himself, his purpose and the key to peace and happiness. Almost from the beginning of time, man has posed the questions, “Who is God? Where is God? Can I speak with God? How do I find God? Why do I need God? Is God the answer to easing man’s pain and chronic anxiety?”
Humankind seeks refuge and solace in the belief or hope that we are not alone, that there is someone more powerful than us, someone or something that can give us the answers to our life, give us meaning, hope and help us to deal with our chronic anxiety.
Critics argue that “weak and vulnerable people believe in God and are therefore susceptible to believing in a savior, a friend, one who redeems and forgives because it is an attractive solution to feeling better about oneself.”
Right or wrong, we all seek answers and we all seek someone to depend on. Scientific studies even reveal that the physiological effects of religious experience are simply a function of our brain and the way that the brain has evolved.
The New Age movement was in many ways a reaction to and a rejection of religious dogma and doctrine. However, The New Age movement is simply a metaphor for traditional religious beliefs; the two share similar beliefs simply expressed in different ways. For example, The New Age movement uses the term, “The Universe”, “Spirit”, “Source” etc as a replacement for the term God. It also promotes becoming “one with the Universe” which is the same as promoting to “become close to God.” The New Age movement also teaches:
- * “Ask and the Universe will respond”; this is the same as “ask and pray to God and He will respond”
- * “The Universe is friendly”; this is the same as “God is good”
- * “The Universe is testing me/teaching me, etc”; this is the same as “God is testing me”
- * Law of Attraction: “you get what you think about – ask, believe and receive”; this is the same as the biblical scripture: “Whatever things you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive”
The Jonestown massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 909 people, is an extreme example of how people turn to cults to seek out someone or something to take care of their lives, solve all of their problems, offer hope and comfort, answer life’s challenges, find a sense of identity and belonging, and to ease chronic anxiety & human suffering.
Thus, regardless of its form, humankind is always seeking someone or something to depend on, someone to turn to for hope and help or, as Juliana described it, “we look for the answers outside ourselves, as if there was a shortcut to happiness.”
In desperation, many people today create their own gods in the form or materialism, greed, vanity, addictions and plastic shamans (individuals who attempt to pass themselves off as shamans, holy people, or other traditional spiritual leaders, but who have no genuine connection to the traditions or cultures they claim to represent.) The point here is not about whether or not it is good or bad to believe in God or a higher being, but rather the danger that occurs when we choose to believe in anything that we then use as an excuse to avoid responsibility for our own actions, behaviors, thoughts and feelings or, to escape looking inside and facing the truth about who we are and the way we think and feel.
This leads to the second key issue in Juliana’s letter: asking questions and taking responsibility for who we are and the way we act and treat other people.
Recently, I was speaking with a mechanic of 30 years. He told me that people take more interest and ask more questions about their car than they do about their own well-being. He told me that when someone gives in their car for repair, they will call every hour until it is ready and they will have so many questions but, when they go to a doctor, they ask very few questions. He is planning to write a book.
We all need support, encouragement and hope. We all need to believe in something of substance; something which gives our lives meaning and purpose. We also need, particularly in certain situations and critical times, someone to turn to whom we can depend on; someone that we believe will listen, care and respond; someone whom we believe will accept us and offer us comfort and hope.
That someone can be in the form of God, religion, a best friend, a spouse, partner, parent, sibling, support group, etc. The danger for all of us, is when we reach the point of desperation and vulnerability and we use that something or someone as a crutch and we stop being accountable for our actions, choices and responses.
Children idolize their parents and depend on them for love, survival and to solve their problems. Juliana’s call to others to “grow up and take responsibility”, implies that adults take note of their actions and their consequences without blaming, excusing or expecting others to come to their rescue.
There is a great tale about a man whose boat is on fire just near a dock. Another boat pulls up next to him, but he refuses to board. “God will save me,” he says.
Then a fire truck comes speeding to the dock, but again he sends them away. “God will save me,” he says.
Finally, a helicopter arrives overhead and drops a long rope ladder, and yet again, the man in dire straits says, “God will save me.”
The man drowns and arrives in heaven. He points to God and asks, “Why didn’t you save me?”
God responds, “I sent you a rescue boat. I sent you a fire truck, and then I sent you a helicopter. What kind of help were you expecting?”
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist