Returning to dignity: a conversation on transformation and Landmark

All creatures begin naive (presumptive and easily deceived by their elders, such as in the case of Santa Claus). With time, we develop our language skills more and more as we are conditioned by social rewards and social punishment (social threats). We learn language in order to adapt, right?

We learn what to say and how to say it, plus what does not work. So we create a persona that emphasizes certain aspects of our humanity (“compliant, good, cheerful, etc”) and de-emphasizes or suppresses certain other aspects (“inappropriate” displays of fear, disappointment, anger, and even curiosity or logic).

In my youth, I was allowed (eventually?) to question the accuracy of Santa Claus. That was not perceived as a threat by anyone (eventually?), so they did not respond with counter-threats and punishments.

In fact, I was scolded on occasion for “going along with the crowd blindly.” However, the blind conformity issue was tricky for me (and perhaps for you, too). I had to learn the 95% of the time that unquestioning blind conformity was required by the adults around me… as well as the 5% of the time that blind conformity would be ridiculed or punished by the adults (and eventually, by my peers, who had also been influenced by adults of course).

When it was “cool” to write letters to Santa, I would. When it became “uncool,” I stopped. I even joined in the chorus of people who would ridicule others for believing in Santa “too long.”

How is this related to Transformation (as in the Landmark Forum)? The “transformational programming” includes giving attention to the historical formation of a conditioned identity (what I called a persona above). When we distinguish that the conditioned identity is just an accumulation of conversations and tensions / pretenses / inauthenticities, then a remarkable opportunity for innovation emerges.

We are encouraged (in Landmark programs) to create new stories and narratives, like “a victory over the past.” We are trained to apologize for “being a jerk by reflexively making you wrong” for violating presumptive expectations and preferences.

A major focus of course is “sharing how Landmark has been valuable to me.” In later courses, we may learn to create a “probable, almost certain future” as a point of contrast or repulsion in attracting others to “the possibility of our project.” The project is presented as the access to an inspiring possibility that can avoid / alter the constructed story of the “probable, almost certain future.”

We are encouraged to explore specific new patterns of conversation and communication. We also witness (in seminars and so on) other people’s conversational momentums as well as our own. We observe various “ways of being” and the various predictable consequences of each one (plus some “unpredictable consequences”).

Is it okay to have been naive? Is it okay to have accumulated a persona (in response to the stresses of our youth)? Is it okay to have been a jerk?

Dignity is related to “being okay with my own past and present.” No actions are required “in order to” eventually qualify for dignity (“someday… maybe”). However, once dignity is “presenced,” then certain innovative actions may naturally “be given by that new way of being.”




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