Friday, February 10, 2017

Sibling Rivalry: A Subconscious Programming Approach

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Got siblings? Got kids?

Yes? Then you’ll want to keep reading, because understanding these relationships is a potential treasure trove of goodies waiting to be unearthed.

Yes, I said “goodies.” Like those thing buried somewhere in the subconscious that are typically avoided or unknown yet we know on some level must be faced if we ever wish to heal, to experience lasting peace and joy (among about a million or so other benefits).

Ready to dig in?

The New Kid in Town

Into this world comes a family’s first child, and—oh!—how she is treated like royalty. So long have the parents wanted a child and the extended family looked forward to nieces, nephews, cousins, and grandkids.

Soooo much attention on the newborn. Always being held and warmed and pampered and talked to and played with and given gifts and loved and attended to and on and on.

Nice. Sooo nice.

Until #2 is born.

Whoosh! goes the attention of everybody. “Oh, my God! He’s so cute!”

And so departs a massive chunk of others’ attentive energy—the very energy that endlessly reminded child #1 of how important she is. Early on she’s too young to grasp language, but she surely notices the severe drop in active support of her by others—especially her parents—as well as the feel-good energy paired with that support.

In consequence, she may feel abandoned, unworthy, perhaps guilty as if she’d done something terribly wrong, though she knows not what. Her newborn brother she comes to see as a threat, as competition. How dare he steal my love and approval, she thinks wordlessly. Then I will prove my worthiness.

Enter #3 Stage Left.

Lifelong Distortions

You can see probably where this is heading, whether there are 2 children or 17.

It’s important to grasp this groundwork because it’s the same story that runs in nearly every family. Even when some level of sibling rivalry is recognized, rarely is it recognized for its sheer magnitude.

Due to sibling birth issues, what comes into creation in a child are energetic blockages and traumas that become lost in the deepest recesses of the child’s body-mind. Left unhealed (which happens in most cases), these distortions play out throughout whole lives. Even worse is that the programming doesn’t remain limited to familial interaction. This is for the reason that so many life experiences are then taken on not in integrity but in an attempt to achieve whatever is perceived to bring attention, love, validation, etc.

For instance, maybe child #1 chooses to be an overachiever because he/she feels an unconscious worth-related threat that child #2 is somehow "better." Or, #1 could learn to behave like a victim—How could life do this to me? I must be an unworthy victim to experience such loss. Child #1 might then constantly tease and one-up #2 in attempt to prove himself as "better." As I will elaborate on shortly, the possibilities go on, and they are no small part of an individual's personality, even through adulthood.

The General Theme

As I’ve mentioned, there’s a general theme to the mechanisms of sibling rivalry.

Child #1 is born and—assuming steady parental care and a healthy environment—early-childhood development goes well because all of the child’s needs are met.

However, when #2 comes along, suddenly child #1 experiences a dramatic loss of much that the child had identified with as “me” and “mine.” This can be quite traumatic and can drive negative core issues such as unworthiness, abandonment, inferiority, anger, jealousy, and so on.

Which is interesting in its own way because it’s not uncommon for #2 to actually look up to #1, #2 feeling as if his/her older brother/sister is some great being to model his-/her-self after.

If a #3 is born, what occured between #1 and #2 then occurs between #2 and #3 as well as between #1 and #3 but to somewhat of a lesser extent. Also, #2 can potentially become stuck between a rock and a hard place, where the “rock” signifies working hard to prove he/she is as good as #1, while the “hard place” is the experience of repeatedly self-sabotaging under beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” and, “I don’t deserve love,” as picked up with the birth of #3.

The more siblings in a family, the more intense child-to-child and child-to-parent competition becomes.

Examples of Sibling Rivalry Manifestation

Very early on this competition may be seen in children fighting, teasing, and arguing. While some level of these will occur due to egoic human nature, plenty of it arises as a result of, metaphorically, mirror reflections of arrogance taking advantage of unworthiness (the arrogance of which itself is just a forcefully overt means of trying to deny one’s own perceived unworthiness).

As children grow into adults, the aforementioned will continue, sometimes blatantly but often in ways more refined—read: crafty—due to their more developed minds. Also, each child will find different ways to go about gaining attention and validation from each other and the parents, of trying to prove why they deserve love more because they are “superior,” a “victim,” or a situation-dependent combination of the two.

Maybe child #1, after 6 other children are born, takes on a chronic illness in attempt to get back the parents’ attention and pull in more from his/her siblings. Maybe child #2 talks loudly and exaggerates all the time to prove he’s worth being heard. Maybe #3 wears all sorts of make-up and goes tanning in order to gain attention for being “so attractive,” something for which she assumes she’d lost when #4 and #5, two sisters, were born and everyone “forgot” about her and began raving about the newborns’ cuteness.

Then there’s the heap of other issues such as work, school, social interactions, and so on. For parental approval, child #1 may earn a degree and get a high-paying job. Child #2 may do this as well for parental approval but also in attempt to say, “Look at me #1. I’m just like you. Now I’m worthy of your validation.” Then again, perhaps #2 can’t attain the goal because, like stated earlier, he came to feel inferior after #3 came along. As a means of upliftment, maybe he compensates for this perceived lack by picking on others who seem to him even more worthless then he.

The larger families get and especially if the oldest kids have been successful by familial standards and thus gotten all sorts of approval, competition can get intense. The fear of failure, of being “the family outcast,” can become a child’s major driving force, even to the complete rejection of personal needs, good health, and sound reasoning.

Timing and Attention

Another cause of sibling rivalry is the result of too short of a time period between births paired with inadequate parental attention.

If 3 kids are born within a span of 3 years, for instance, there’s a lot of potential for sibling tension. A child’s earliest years are the most developmentally crucial for the healthy unfoldment of the child’s whole life. The early years are pivotal for building and reinforcing a solid, positive foundation. When multiple children are born in quick succession, there’s often a deficit of immediate parental care preventing a foundation from setting firmly.

Think of parent work schedules and other activities. Even if we use a “best-case” scenario where the mother doesn’t work and watches the kids while the father works full-time, there’s still only 1 person to tend to 3 kids. Even if all the children are in the same room with the mother all the time (which is unrealistic), the mother simply can’t be everywhere at once to take care of each child’s needs appropriately and equally.

Compare this to an alternate scenario in which 3 children are born but each with 4 to 5 years’ separation between them. Yes, sibling rivalry issues may still arise. The adversity will be far less, however, since the time and space has been provided for a far healthier foundation to be instilled within each.

For sure, families with 5, 6, 7, and, who knows, maybe even 10 or 12 children are going to be increasingly rife with inadequacy struggles. (Don’t forget: Even “tough guy” and arrogance personas and such are signs of perceived inadequacy.) Bad enough is the incessant change and lack of healthy development time and space, but there are only 2 parents. With one or (almost necessarily) both parents working, how in the world can they possibly sufficiently take care of so many children?

The answer is that they can’t. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally impossible. Maybe it appears they do, maybe the children appear to get along well, yet if one were to examine such a family from a viewpoint of sibling rivalry programming, one would see just how imbalanced things are. Everything must be used to one’s advantage to compensate for a perceived lack of love, approval, worthiness, and so on.

Subtle Parental Teachings

The last major issue to be mentioned regards parental teachings. Much of the way children learn to behave, regardless of sibling count or birth timing, comes from their parents. While this may sound obvious, my sense is that because people generally don’t want to face their own darkness and rarely grasp that our greatest teachings to others are not given through words nor actions but by the very energy signatures we exude, parents usually have great difficulty in understanding why their kids exhibit certain unsettling behaviors.

Before all, parents (and everyone else) must learn to look beyond appearance and verbiage. Everything in this world looks more or less different all the time, yet the energy patterns underlying these things are relatively limited and are repeated over and over again. Anger is anger and joy is joy but both may be expressed in endless ways.

Focus then needs to be placed on the self. The following are suitable questions:
  • “What subconscious sibling rivalry programming am I running that I am unwittingly teaching to my children?”
  • “What sibling rivalry conditioning did I receive from my parents?”

Yes, you’re asking of unconscious issues. But by the very fact of asking you willingly open an inner-doorway through which the answers can be made conscious. You’ll only be able to see what you’ve stored in the basement if you first turn on the light.

In terms of the first question, the answer should be somewhat straightforward. If you see it in your kids, you and/or your partner carry it. How to dig into this and resolve it is a topic for another day. Nonetheless, your seeing and truly being willing to change is going to provide you with a huge step forward out of ignorance. Take the first step first.

As for the second question, consider the following example: As a father you might notice that your father always acts like a tough guy and you, as the firstborn, took on this role to earn his respect. Now you teach it to your kids without a second thought. This could play out such that your firstborn was imprinted with need-to-be-a-tough-guy programming. When #2 was born a few years later, he or she didn’t stand a chance, immediately overwhelmed with a sense of not being good enough. He now feels failed, worthless, helpless, and so on. You might also note that this is the very programming your own younger brother displays.

This is just a brief instance with some basic information to give you the gist of subtle parental teachings. I recommend looking into this further, and I hope you see the sense in doing so. As a parent, clearing out your childhood muck is probably the greatest gift you can “give” to your children. Even better if you work through some of this stuff before having kids.

Closing Words and a Disclaimer

In reading this, I don’t want you to walk away with an inaccurate impression, especially if you have or want to have kids, be it 2 or 6 or 1600. See my words here as a starting point, a generalization.

I’m not trying to offer any “proper” timing of having children. Nor am I trying to suggest what the “right” number of kids is for anyone. Nor, thirdly, am I trying to insinuate that, say, due to the likelihood of sibling rivalry that there’s something skewed in parents wanting to have kids separated by only a year or two so they can all grow up together.

Furthermore, I’m not trying to say that families with lots of kids have to be veritable nightmares. Yes, children in such families will very likely have some strong internal please-see-me-as-worthy programming, but it is by no means meant as a character or familial judgment or anything. Perhaps everyone who has siblings has a hand in this rivalry mess, myself included.

And although general conclusions can be drawn, the reality of it is, in families with only 2 kids born one year apart, the kids could get along amazingly well or behave as arch-enemies—just as it is possible with 2 kids born 6 years apart. There are just so many factors of causation, many of them unstated here. Even with the seemingly best planning and clearest intentions, sibling rivalry will not be fully avoided… Well, unless a couple decides to have only one child—or fewer.

Overall, my intention here is simply to look at an old topic through a less-used lens. Whatever anyone does in terms of family planning is purely up to them, and I place no judgment on it. It’s not my business.

I see only benefit, though, in providing these insights regarding such influential concerns. If just a small bit of this is taken seriously and suffering and unhealthy childhood development decreases even by the tiniest fraction, then my work has served its purpose.

As a parent, parent-to-be, and/or sibling, will you help me fulfill it?

Friday, February 3, 2017

It's You, Not Your Creation

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

This is about blame, about avoidance and denial. This is about how to know that it is you with the problems and not someone or something “out there.”

To Blame Is to “B-lame.”

Let’s pretend that something happens to you. Or maybe something doesn’t happen to you but you believe it should have. What is this “something”? I don’t know specifically, but you don’t like it.

So you blame the outside world. And maybe you follow up this blame by defining some new goal of which there’s a fair chance you won’t even bother attempting to achieve.
  • “My car is cheap. I need to buy a new one.”
  • “My boss is an asshat. I need to get a new job.”
  • “People are selfish. I need to go somewhere where they’re kind.”
  • “I’m broke. I need to win the lottery.
  • “My car is junk because my selfish asshat of a boss doesn’t pay me enough so I had to go cheap. Doesn’t help either that everyone else wins the lottery but me. The only car I could afford was from some deceptive jerk I found in the Classifieds. Thing was trash from the get-go. Totally paid too much… I need a new life.”

Lame, is it not? Running from every discomfort (which for most people is +/- 92.5% of their lives), never questioning yourself as to whether or not you have any responsibility in the matter. Somehow it’s just always the fault of “other.”

Do the Math

In mathematics, if you have to solve an equation by adding or subtracting two or more fractions with different denominators, you need to find what is called a common denominator. This shared base is what allows you to make sense of otherwise dissimilar pieces.

You might wish to keep this principle in mind when blame arises. For are not all the phenomena of existence simply like apparently unrelated fractions that rarely if ever add up? Of course. And I’ll tell you why.

Because you’re unwilling to acknowledge the true common denominator of all the fragmentation that you perceive in life:


Each “fraction” you perceive is but a lighter or darker reflection of your dis-integrated inner self. Hence, why every time you get a new job, car, friend, house, or wife you experience the same issues over and over again. You can blame and rearrange things all you want externally, but you must know that what really needs attention is already and always within you until healed.

Questioning “Perfection”

If you are a blamer and cared to take a look, you would notice many behaviors and patterns indicative of your need to fault the external world. The most obvious is, of course, blaming—“Don’t look at me. It’s his fault.” Also implicit of blame are overt things like judgment, criticism, and name-calling as well as subtle issues such as a victim mentality (out of which the overt are born).

Trouble is, since you must “start where you are,” it can be very difficult to recognize the prevalence of an issue such as blame if it’s what you and everyone around you have been doing your whole lives. So embedded might you be in judgment, for example, that you believe your judgments to be factual assessments.

What cannot be mistaken, however, is your reaction to being told that you are responsible or that you are the one needing help—in other words, that you are imperfect. Which, please note, doesn’t mean “other” isn’t at fault to some extent. “Other” very often is. It’s just that you are the one who matters here and the degree of your reactivity will reveal to you in no uncertain terms how responsible you truly are. This potent clue can be summed up by how you answer the following 2 avoidance- and denial-based questions:

  1. How do you handle being called out as accountable for an unsatisfactory experience/situation?
  2. How do you deal with self-help, advice, and other such things wherein your “knowing,” “perfection,” and so forth are challenged?

How you might react to these questions I’ve broken down into 5 general categories. Why not see where you fit? For the extent that you’re in avoidance and denial is the extent to which you’re blaming someone or something “out there,” and vice versa.

  1. Anger, Rejection, and More Blame:
    You immediately and completely reject a suggested truth and your accountability regarding it. Your anger* arises in proportion to the sensitivity of the nerves hit, and any suggestion of personal shortcoming is denied and blamed on “other.” Think narcissism: No matter the evidence, a narcissist is “always right” and they make sure their “opponent” knows it. The “opponent” has lost before even beginning. (*Anger may not flare if thoroughly suppressed. Yet this anger will still reveal itself through sudden muscle tension, a variety of blame techniques, yelling, and so on.)

  2. Distraction:
    Your attention quickly dives elsewhere. Maybe specific personal issues aren’t even mentioned but just the concepts of self-responsibility, self-help, or clarity on the way things truly are. Your eyes quickly turn away, the topic is abruptly changed, blame is laid elsewhere, and any of 17,000 other distractions (from picking lint off your shirt to needing to go shopping) are found be of higher priority… Although distraction mixes into other categories, this is a good place to mention you who addictively drink, smoke, exercise, work, snack, and so forth. Every moment of waking life becomes distraction-based in order to avoid turning inward. Anything to make you feel “okay.”

  3. Looking "Good”; “I-Really-Want-To-Flush-This-Inner-Shit-Pile-But-Oh-Ah-Well-Maybe-I-Don’t-Want-To-Get-Rid-of-It-That-Badly-After-All”:
    You think you’re ready to resolve troublesome issues so you request the help of another who “gets it.” The conversation may go well enough, but when the talking is over and suggestion has been made to regularly take quiet time to meditate, journal, self-inquire, and so on, that’s when avoidance kicks in. There’s a willingness only to appear as if you’re “doing something good.” A few insights may end up arising, but never anything obliging you to face your base programming. Similarly, you might be willing to borrow books or ask for video resources, but if asked about them later your response might be, “I’m so busy,” or, “I keep forgetting.” Your negativity toward “out there” and the consequent discomfort reflected back at you thus perpetuates.

  4. Ignorant, Yet Willing-In-Waiting:
    You react with denial and blame, but it’s more of an inadvertent, ignorance type of behavior; there’s not a lot of force to it. You do it because as a child you’d taken on the ways of everyone around you. You may never have concerned yourself with self-improvement but not due to avoidance: it’s simply never been shown to you. You may just need a personal introduction, someone to provide you with a bit of experience-based clarity and a gentle motivational nudge toward change.

  5. Willing Participation:
    You’re working on it. You know you’ve got junk that drives negative behavior, but you’re doing your best to unload it. You have little to no issue with others compassionately telling you you’re being negative, with acknowledging any personal negativity, nor talking to others about it who will offer compassionate help.

Following this list, I want to be sure to note that I’m not attempting to divide every human being into one (or a blend) of the above 5 categories. For instance, there are some people who blame but simply don’t think in terms of “right”/“wrong” or “positive”/”negative” as most people have been conditioned. Not only do they just do what they do for better or for worse while ignorant of their behavior’s implications, but something like notion of self-help might even sound weird to them.

My focal point remains, however, on those who are of the majority of humanity that on some more or less conscious level know they blame and avoid, know something is inherently flawed about their behavior, and know they’d be wise to do something about it at its core but, in most cases, don’t.

Forget “Nationwide.” Life Itself Is On Your Side.
Trust In the Wisdom of Life and Be Your Own Insurance.*

(*Well… As the Arab proverb goes, “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” Trust in life but don’t be a fool. Buying insurance can be a most useful thing. Especially when you own a car and it’s illegal to drive without it. Anyway…)

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, even if usually unstated, life does in fact have our best interest in mind. If you’ll notice, trouble only comes when we “fractionalize” an experience that just is, when we overlay our beliefs and fears and such over the objective unfoldment of life and then react negatively to it as though “out there” is the one with the problem.

Some time back I published a post titled: “When Is a Car Not a Car? When It’s A Mirror!” The reason I find this piece so important is because it reveals how reflective life is.

When my car began doing all sorts of erratic and dysfunctional things, sometimes over the course of months, I could have gotten all bent out of shape and fretted endlessly since I didn’t have the hundreds of dollars or more it would’ve taken to fix the issues. I could also have tried to persuade myself and others that Subaru makes shitty cars, or something like, “It’s just my luck to get the junker.”

But rather than pulling any foolish blame or avoidance tactics, I evaluated my own experience to see what was so dis-integrated within myself that I needed my car as an external mirror of that dysfunction. As I explain in the blog post and as still holds to this day, the issues are gone yet I’ve put only very little money into car repairs—I simply adjusted my thinking and consequent behavior.

During the same illness I mention in the car posting, I’d also had an inordinate number of laptop troubles. Well, guess what? I’m still using the same computer but no longer have any hint of the issues, unless I fall back into old ways. My overall expenditure in time, money, and energy was thus far less than if I’d have chosen to ream out Dell or Windows or efforted to repair my PC while ignoring the fact that I am the common denominator of my woes.

If we could all learn to see with this kind of in-sight and be willing to make the necessary changes, we would enable ourselves to flow with a life that really does have our best in mind.

Summing Up

All this being said, I’d ask you to be mindful that what is stated here is not an attempt to say that anyone should be interested in self-help in the way it’s conventionally thought of. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t have a burning drive for enlightenment or to become a world-renowned life coach or some such thing.

This is far more about the innate human drive to be better today than yesterday—without the inflated ego—to want a better life than 99% of the population currently has. But in order to take even a single step toward this goal, you must first make yourself accountable. You must begin by acknowledging any immediate, self-defeating and other-harming programming/conditioning that’s blocking you from having the motivation to improve.

Which in other words means, “doing the math.”

Because you are at the center of it all. You may want to get this, you may want to do that, you may want to be this, you may want to know that. But all these wants are impossibilities when so much of your energy is focused on blame, avoidance, and denial—the very things that must necessarily return to you precisely what you don’t want.

So why not try going within?

It really sucks sometimes, sure. But definitely if you’re in one of the first 4 of 5 categories (and not uncommonly in the 5th), I’m hard-pressed to imagine that things don’t already suck as it is… I’m also quite hard-pressed to imagine that you will be disappointed with the rewards.