Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

For those who haven’t heard me mention it before, I’m a follower of nonduality. Being a nondualist means that I recognize that the binary way that we perceive existence (black and white, good and evil, this and that) are not just merely two sides of the same coin, but in many cases are what Neale Donald Walsch termed “divine dichotomies,” where two seemingly opposing things can both be true, simultaneously–or–they cancel each other out and neither are true (which is, itself, yet another divine dichotomy…).

For example, a universal Truth: either EVERYONE is special, or NO ONE is special. Both are simultaneously true, it’s merely a matter of which way you choose to look at it. This is a divine dichotomy.

If everyone is, in fact, special, then it literally means that by definition, no one is. This is another divine dichotomy.

We live in a world of duality that tells us everything is an either/or… but what if it’s a yes/and?

Having a shit load of Mercury influence in my astrology chart (including a Gemini Ascendant, Chiron, and North Node, a third house Moon and Mars, a Virgo Sun, and a sixth house Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus), I have a knack for exploring and recognizing both (or many) sides of binary thinking and perceptions.

I saw an Instagram post a while back that was tackling toxic positivity and shaming of negative emotions that said, “Don’t look on the bright side. Don’t focus on the positive. Don’t see the good in everything. Don’t look at the silver lining.” etc. with the implication of “just be with where you are.” And then I saw another that argued there’s no need to “reframe” failure as an opportunity or learn something from it and instead, we can just be ok with failing. 

And I thought about it for a bit, and I thought, why not do both? Isn’t that the whole picture?

Why does acknowledging a shadow mean you can’t look at the silver lining? Why does seeing the good in everything mean you have to ignore the negative? Why does acknowledging a person’s awfulness mean that you can’t also acknowledge their inherent humanness? Why does sitting with our own emotions mean we can’t acknowledge those of the person who hurt us? It is, after all, a sign of emotional intelligence to recognize that other people have feelings, too. Even shitty people. Why do we think that we can only feel love OR hate? Why can’t we love someone AND hate them at the same time (I certainly have)?  Are our own feelings not complex enough to hold two seemingly opposing emotions simultaneously?

Why can’t we acknowledge how all-encompassing and complex our human experience is? Why do we have to oversimplify our experiences into one thing OR another? WHY CAN’T WE DO OR BE BOTH?!

This idea that we have the capacity to hold seemingly opposing perspectives and emotions simultaneously has been a theme that has come up for me several times in the last few months and I’ve noticed more and more how our world does not necessarily operate from that holistic point of view. I do, however, think that’s part and parcel to the spiritual journey to explore both ends of a spectrum until we eventually reach equilibrium. I know I have.

I think part of our goal in transcending the illusion of duality is to recognize how binary thinking shows up in our everyday life, begin to recognize when two things can be simultaneously true, and learn to expand our awareness and emotional capacity to encompass multiple perspectives and experiences.

Xo,

Ash

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Victim Consciousness isn’t What You Think it is

Victim Consciousness isn’t What You Think it is

Victim Consciousness isn’t What You Think it is

A concept I’ve seen a lot over the ten years I’ve been involved in spirituality is this notion of “victim consciousness.” It’s the term that New Agers like to use to describe anyone who seemingly isn’t taking 100% full responsibility for their experiences.

Some ways I’ve seen this used include (these are direct quotes):

“Blaming another is forfeiting your personal power.”

 

“Dear Black People…Why do I say ‘All Lives Matter? instead of ‘Black Lives Matter‘?…Because the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ DISEMPOWERS YOU. It is keeping you chained up in victimhood.

 

Sex you regret is not the same thing as Rape. Accepting yourself for making a decision you regret is key…not venturing into a Victim identity. Women don’t realize that Victim Culture has robbed them of all sovereignty.”

 

“Yes we need to learn but if traumas don’t require a lesson then how do you come out of victim consciousness?” (In response to the statement “Not all traumas were caused by mistakes that require a lesson to avoid repeating them. In fact, most serious traumas weren’t mistakes on the part of the victim. They weren’t events summoned by their unconscious or their karma to teach them something they need to learn. They were victimizations. They were attacks.”)

Learn more about why we don’t manifest abuse.

These people think that acknowledging when another person or group of people have violated your personal boundaries and your OWN SOVEREIGNTY is “victim consciousness.” In other words…they think that telling someone that what they did to you was not okay is being “a victim.” That’s not victim consciousness, that’s victim shaming, and it enables abusive behavior to continue unchecked, and it empowers abusers because it protects them from consequences. It places the full burden of responsibility for abusive behavior on the person who is being harmed.

When you’re at home minding your own business and someone bursts in through your front door and shoots you, that’s murder and nobody says, “Don’t blame that guy who burst in through your front door, or you’re forfeiting your personal power.” Well, unless you’re Black, the person who murdered you is a police officer and your name is Breonna Taylor.

So why does anyone apply this shit to rape and racism? Because that’s what narcissistic abusers do. They gaslight their victims into believing the abuse is their fault, thereby absolving themselves of any responsibility or accountability.

People who believe they must make themselves accountable for all of the times they’ve been victimized are usually victims of narcissistic abuse and suffering from codependency. People who tell others that they are accountable for all the times they have victimized said other are narcissistic abusers, and when this is being done utilizing spirituality as an excuse, it’s called spiritual bypassing.

Learn more about narcissistic abuse.

Who Does Have a Victim Mentality?

There actually are people out there who have victim mentalities, or victim consciousness–whatever you want to call it. And the irony is that those people are often the abusers, themselves.

Victim mentality is a key indicator of narcissism. If the narcissist can make their victims responsible for their actions and emotions, then they aren’t responsible for doing anything wrong.

How do people develop this kind of victim mentality? By having the same thing done to them by other narcissists.

When a person is constantly gaslit to believe they are responsible for other people’s attacks, they may do one of two things: accept that responsibility and become codependent, or deny that responsibility and see every attempt to hold them accountable as an attack, thus assuming an actual victim mentality. And once that line is crossed, they move from being an abuse victim to an active abuser, because they begin using the same gaslighting tactics on others to protect themselves that were used on them to begin with.

Learn more about codependency and narcissism.

How can you avoid true victim consciousness?

Know your boundaries and understand what healthy boundaries look like for others. Abuse occurs when boundaries are crossed, and knowing those edges inside and out will help you understand when abuse is happening, and when it isn’t, and that nuance is the difference between actual abuse and a victim mentality.

Learn more about the nuance of boundaries and bypassing.

Xo,

Ash

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Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

I‘ve never really bought into the concept that humans truly have free will, and there’s a variety of spiritually-based reasons for that, but one of the biggest reasons isn’t spiritual at all.

In order to have have free agency of our own will, we have to be a free thinker, and the truth is, very few of us actually are.

Humans, bizarre little ego-centric creatures that we are, believe that we have the freedom of choice in all that we do, as though we have total internal autonomy over what goes on inside our minds. And of course we would think that–we mistakenly believe that the rational mind is the king of our world.

Most of us spend very little time examining our motivations for the choices we make and the beliefs we hold, our biases, our fears, or put any kind of thought into how all of that unexamined subconscious shit informs our so-called rational choices.

Learn how to identify your belief systems

Reason vs. Logic

Humans are rational creatures, not logical creatures. Reason and logic are not the same thing.

All a rationale is, is an explanation about how you came to your conclusion. It doesn’t mean it’s the right conclusion, or that it’s a logical conclusion, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re being honest with yourself about your motivations, or that you understand the psychological factors that are driving your behavior.

People tell themselves all kinds of stories about why they do what they do. Many of them are lies.

True free will–and true free thinking–can only be found when we begin to uncover and understand our subconscious mind. Until then, we are susceptible to all kinds of bias, propaganda, and distorted belief systems.

As an acquaintance of mine on Instagram once wrote: if you’re not facing your shadow, you’re getting fucked by it. – @rainierwylde

Learn more about shadow work and it’s role in spirituality

PS – lots of you wanted me to open back up the question submission, so I’ve added that to the post footer. Can’t wait to see what your questions are!

Xo,

Ash

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How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

Since January, I’ve been “inspired” quite a bit to write about modern New Age spirituality’s relationship with narcissism, which is quite strong these days.

In my previous post “How Separation Consciousness Masks Itself In Spirituality” I talked about how Individualism in the West creates a me-centric version of spirituality which ignores the fact that we are co-creating with a collective, places the greatest emphasis on the self, and ultimately results in a form of overt spiritual narcissism/god complex where adherents believe they are literally the center of their own universe and everyone else on the planet is just something they manifested. This, of course, lends itself to a severe lack of empathy and social responsibility, because they then believe that everyone else on the planet has manifested their circumstances and simply need to change their thinking to manifest their way out.

A couple of weeks ago, I also posted in-depth about narcissistic empaths, how codependency is really a form of covert narcissism, and how this kind of “empath” and narcissism are actually two sides of the same narcissistic coin.

In today’s post, I’m taking all of these topics one step further and discussing how some very common concepts in New Age spirituality come from and create codependent mentalities.

What is Codependency?

Codependency: a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity.

Like with narcissism, there’s a lot to unpack with codependency and a lot of it overlaps, depending on the specific situation. The most important aspects of note with regard to spirituality are:

Codependents often feel responsible for how other people feel and that underlying feeling of distress (usually guilt or shame attached to the subconscious belief that they are the cause of the other person’s emotional state) pushes them to want to “fix” the other person’s emotions and thus, regulate the energy in the room.

This is often confused for empathy, but it’s important to distinguish that the codependent isn’t actually feeling the other person’s emotions or acting out of care or empathy, they’re driven by their own sense of shame and guilt and the underlying motivation is to alleviate their own uncomfortable emotions, not those of the other person. And this is why codependency can be considered another form of narcissism: because this action is driven by self-interest and the other person’s emotions are (subconsciously) seen as an extension of the self.

How Spirituality Can Breed Codependency

Similar to how certain concepts in spirituality can breed a form of narcissism, those same concepts can also breed codependency.

  • You are the absolute creator of your reality
  • You are responsible for all of your negative experiences
  • Your scarcity mentality is responsible for your financial situation
  • No one will love you until you love yourself

Each of these platitudes encourages extreme independence from reality. So what happens when you buy into this mentality, you work on yourself, and things in your life don’t magically shift?

You probably being to use your external reality as a measuring stick for how healed you are. And any time someone or some situation shows up that creates discomfort, you ask yourself, “What haven’t I healed?”

I caught myself doing this recently with a connection to someone who, for all intents and purposes, is toxic, but whose energy won’t seem to leave me alone. It actually started to drive me a little bit batshit. I had cut cords a thousand times. I had healed. I had grieved. I had released. I had forgiven. I had moved on. And yet, we are still psychically linked for inexplicable reasons, and it bubbles up to the surface periodically.

Then one night in the shower it occurred to me: it’s not me. I’m not the problem. I’m not the one hanging on–it’s them. They haven’t completed their end of this karmic bargain by cleaning up after the consequences of their actions.

I had a similar realization when I was trying to date and 90% of the men I met were still awful. I thought it was me–that I hadn’t healed enough yet to attract great men. I was taking all of the responsibility for the people that I was running into on the street, more or less. Every terrible interaction was somehow a reflection of what was wrong with me. The truth was…it wasn’t me. It was them. There’s just a lot of shitty men out there and my healing had no effect on that percentage. I just had a much lower tolerance for their bullshit.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!

I’d momentarily forgotten that we are co-creating our reality and that I don’t have any control over other people (or the world, for that matter). I only have agency over myself.

This idea that we are the supreme manifestors of our life and our reality teaches us that we are responsible for the toxic, abusive people and situations that come into our lives, that those people are reflections of us and whatever is unhealed within us, and that somehow, through obsessive self healing, we’ll be able to change that, or in the case of a lot of Twin Flame trash, that we’ll be able to heal another person…(how’s that for codependent thinking). And when it doesn’t happen, how much guilt and shame do you feel over your inability to succeed?

The reality is that healing ourselves doesn’t change what kinds of people or situations come into our lives–we can’t control or manipulate people in that way, and it’s quite delusional to think that we can or do.

There’s a difference between using situations in our lives as opportunities for self-reflection, and assuming that every situation is a reflection.

Healing teaches us discernment, and how to not find ourselves attracted to those people and situations. It teaches us boundaries and self-respect. And when you implement those changes in your life, you’ll choose differently, and certainly more wisely. It doesn’t mean you won’t still have to wade through a sea of garbage people to find gold, because a lot of the people on this planet are still holding shit energy, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Xo,

Ash

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Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Let’s talk about fear.

In New Age spirituality, fear is probably the most demonized emotion. “Stop living in fear!” everyone likes to preach. And, you know, in some instances, this is a good thing to do. How many opportunities in life do we miss because we were simply afraid to take the risk and instead, stuck to our comfort zone?

In this case, the whole False Evidence Appearing Real narrative is somewhat correct. When we are afraid of failure, rejection, pain, of not being good enough, etc. it keeps us small. When we’re afraid of the boogeyman and things that go bump in the night, it keeps us on edge. Religion has used fear of Satan, Hell, and demons as a mechanism for control for centuries. All of these fears are based in total illusion or superstition with no foundation in reality.

Learn why fear-based beliefs are a distortion.

But there’s another kind of fear that has every basis in reality which serves as a biological survival instinct: fear of actual real and tangible danger. Like physical pain, without this evolutionary protection mechanism, the human race would be extinct. Fear in the face of clear and present danger is what keeps us alive.

Could you imagine telling a child not to look both ways before crossing the street because it’s considered “living in fear”? How about intentionally exposing yourself to a potentially deadly virus because wearing a mask was “living in fear”? Or maybe attempting to take a selfie with a wild buffalo at Yellowstone? You catch my drift. These are Darwin Award-worthy acts of stupidity, not conquering fear for any useful reason.

There’s a marked difference between fear-based beliefs and belief systems and actual bodily self-preservation.

Learn more about the difference between fear and danger.

On Pushing Through Fear and Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Some people pride themselves on getting out of their comfort zones, and certainly, if you do what you’ve always did, get you’ll get what you’ve always to gotten. But like anything, this all depends on context.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before, like uprooting your entire life to move across the country with no safety net, and that scares you, that’s an opportunity you might miss because of your comfort zone. It might be worth the risk.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before that might actually violate your personal values or expose you to harmful relationship dynamics, that’s a whole other ballgame. That’s risky behavior because you don’t recognize risk when you see it.

Sometimes our comfort zones exist because we’ve been severely traumatized, and pushing ourselves out of them too fast, too soon is just like the trauma that created them in the first place. This is harmful.

Sometimes, because of abuse, we don’t actually fully understand what our comfort level is. We ignore our discomfort because that’s what our abusers taught us to do, and when we come up against some similar, subtle, but potentially harmful experiences, we stick around too long, not realizing what’s happening until it’s too late.

Those with people-pleasing or codependent tendencies are not great at recognizing risk or when their boundaries are being violated, and a lot of folks think that pushing through this is somehow conquering their fear in the name of spirituality.

If you’re a recovering people pleaser, or have a history of trauma and abuse, I urge you to ignore the comfort zone messaging on Instagram when it comes to really personal things like relationships, sex, and things which are directly tied to your physical and emotional well-being.

Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is a useful emotion that alerts us of danger. Fear only becomes detrimental when it becomes overprotective.

Pay attention to your discomfort. Explore it. Honor it. Sometimes it’s all in your head. But sometimes it’s there for a reason.

Xo,

Ash

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Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

You’ll find a lot of wildly popular information on the internet talking about the relationship between narcissists and empaths, and how these two polar opposites ends up attracting each other.

However, you may recall in a previous post where I wrote about the Law of Attraction, I pointed out that the perception of opposite energies attracting is an illusion. According to the Law of Attraction, like energy attracts like energy. So how can two seeming opposites such as a narcissist and an empath be alike?

Like Attracts Like or Opposites Attract?

First, we need to review what like energy attracts like energy actually means in terms of Law of Attraction:

If we want to truly understand the law of attraction, we have to understand it in energetic terms: heavy energy attracts heavy energy. Lighter energy attracts lighter energy. The vibrational frequencies of the energies are a match.

 

Duality comes from the illusion that there exists a lack of love. We call that illusion fear (not to be confused with danger). Fear-based energy is heavy and dense. Thus, fear-based energy manifests as spectrum of polarity (duality).

 

For example: total control and total submission exist on the same power spectrum and they are both symptoms of a heavier, “negative,” fear-based energy, one being a hunger for power, and the other being a state of feeling powerless. Thus, these two energies attract because they are the same fundamental energy expressing itself on a spectrum, and give the illusion of opposites attracting.

 

Learn more about the Law of Attraction

Next, we have to establish what an empath is.

When most people on the internet are talking about empaths, they are actually talking about codependency. I think there’s a great deal of nuance involved in this, and people often lump several categories together. I tend to see these broken down like so:

  • There’s psychic empaths, which are people who physically experience other people’s emotions and energy in the environment around them (also known as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity or a highly sensitive person (HSP)) ;
  • There’s people with empathy, who have the emotional intelligence to understand how another person may be feeling;
  • And then there’s people who are codependent, who may, but don’t necessarily, have either of the aforementioned abilities.

What’s the difference between all of these things?

Psychic empaths/HSP appears to be biological in nature–you’re born that way (and it exists in non-humans as well). Emotional intelligence/empathy is cultivated and nurtured through our environment. Codependency is a learned coping mechanism/survival strategy when healthy emotional intelligence is not cultivated or nurtured–it mimics real empathy but in an unhealthy way.

A person can be codependent, have empathy, and be a psychic empath, or a person can be codependent, have little emotional intelligence, and be a psychic empath, or they might be a perfectly healthy, empowered psychic empath with a high emotional IQ.

Me, personally… I’ve always been HSP, but I have not always been emotionally intelligent. Not even close. I had to learn how to cultivate emotional intelligence on my own. I taught myself how to feel and how to empathize with other people. In some ways, shutting off one’s ability to empathize might be a reaction to being HSP in an abusive world. The pain of living in this world is too much for a developing, sensitive nervous system to process, so it becomes numb in order to function normally.

Learn about these three types of empaths.

The kind of empath that is most often drawn into relationships with narcissists are typically codependents, who may not actually be empaths at all, but rather… covert narcissists.

Narcissists and this kind of “empath” exist on opposite end of the same spectrum. Indeed, some research suggests that the only people who can stand being friends with narcissists are other narcissists.

Everybody’s A Little Bit Narcissistic

The next thing that is important to establish is that narcissism and codependency are a scale. Literally everyone has some narcissistic traits, and we all probably have some codependent tendencies. Some people are more narcissistic than others, and some people are more codependent than others. The extreme ends of those scales are where you’ll find the hardcore narcissist and the narcissistic empath.

Defining Traits of Narcissists and Narcissistic Empaths

The defining characteristics of both narcissists and (narcissistic) empaths/codependents, etc. are:

  • Lack of boundaries
  • Lack of a true defined self/identity
  • Dependent on others for validation / overly concerned with what other think
  • Lack of true self-awareness or awareness of one’s motivations

In this way, these two types of personalities are two sides of the same coin–and of course all of this exists on a scale/spectrum, so it’s to varying degrees of intensity.

A codependent or narcissistic empath gives all of their boundaries away (thus, no boundaries), and a narcissist disrespects all boundaries (thus, no boundaries), which is why they tend to “attract” one another, and why overt narcissist parents create covert narcissist or codependent children.

Both are overly concerned with the appearance of perfection, people pleasing, and deriving validation from another, it just manifests in slightly different nuances. Both constantly conform to others’ expectations, but it seems codependents focus on the individual in front of them, and narcissists focus on the collective’s.

On the extreme end, both lack a deep level of self-awareness, have a desperate need for attention, both engage in emotional manipulation, but one is more overt, and the other more covert. Both have a tendency to victimize themselves as well, which is why the whole “narcissists attract empaths” trope works so well–it allows the narcissistic empath to play that victim/martyr role and wear the label of “empath” like a badge of honor.

And finally, narcissistic empaths don’t actually have real empathy–they imitate empathy as a means of manipulating others into giving them validation. Their primary concern is still themselves, just like any other narcissist.

Learn more about narcissistic traits and abuse.

Out in the wild, these covert narcissists would be considered energy vampires to the tune of Evie Russell, from What We Do in the Shadows.

Spoiler alert: in true overt/covert narcissist fashion, Collin and Evie start dating.

Narcissists Are Not Attracted to Empaths

Narcissists are not attracted to empaths. Narcissists are attracted to people with weak boundaries and people-pleasing tendencies, which, as we’ve already established, is not an empath, it’s a codependent.

Narcissistic empaths are attracted to other covert narcissists, and by the way–a narcissist can display both overt and covert narcissistic tendencies, they don’t have to be one or the other.

As I said earlier, everyone has some narcissistic traits, and we all probably exhibit some codependent tendencies. Some folks might rank higher on the scale than others, and that’s where you find seemingly good people being attracted to seemingly bad people… except that’s really just our own lack of self-awareness around our own narcissistic tendencies being mirrored back to us by the person we’ve identified as “the narc.”

Narcissistic education coaches on Instagram are often people who have experienced narcissistic abuse, and when they haven’t fully healed from that abuse, they are usually still writing from a place of wounding and blame and have a tendency to dehumanize the abuser, which then creates an entire culture that writes off wounded people as irredeemably toxic, which naturally creates even more wounding.

They also tend to give really bad advice to the people they’re allegedly trying to heal, because they, themselves, haven’t yet worked out how to heal, such as telling their clients, “You don’t love them. It was just a trauma-bond.” This is actually a form of gaslighting. Coaches don’t know you and they don’t know whether or not you really loved your abuser or not, and they have no business telling you that you didn’t. What they should be telling you is that you perhaps have an unhealthy attachment to said person, and teach you how to compassionately detach without abusing yourself or vilifying anyone.

I’ll never tell an abuse victim that they deserved what they got or that it was their fault, because none of us ever asks to be abused. Healing is a process as well, and we don’t need to make excuses for our abuser’s behavior, nor do we even have to forgive them. But that doesn’t mean we get a free pass to abuse them in return.

Learn why you don’t manifest abuse.

Narcissistic abuse victims often gaslight themselves and bury their feelings as a coping mechanism to detach from their abuser. The unfortunate side effect of this is that they shut off their own empathy toward that person, and the one thing that defines a narcissist is a lack of empathy. So the irony is, you end up becoming just like them, which is why abuse is a cycle.

At some point, in order to truly heal, we have to recognize that abusers were, themselves, abused. And while we don’t have to excuse their behavior, or even forgive them for what they did, we do have to try to understand how they became who they are, if for no other reason than to ensure that we, ourselves, do not become the thing we despise. When we bring ourselves back to a state of empathy and compassion, it opens a path for our own healing as well as one for the abuser, should they choose to accept it.

Xo,

Ash

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