How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

It’s been a bizarre few days in the life of Ashley. An emotional roller coaster, as always, but also filled with tons of observations and insights, as the story usually goes.

Do you ever notice how, when you make a quantum leap in your own personal development, shit seems to get stirred up a bit and you lose a few people along the way? And it’s ok, because they were people who matched your old vibration and now that you’ve upgraded, they’re becoming dead weight that’s trying to hold you down, so you have to burn a few bridges in order to keep going. When you realize that, you’re totally ok with dousing it in gasoline and you might even utter a slight chuckle as you toss the match.

It all began earlier in the week when a “friend” that I’d dropped a few weeks ago suddenly reappeared. I’m at a point in my life right now where I have ZERO interest in people unsolicitedly telling me what they think I should be doing with my life. This person had a notorious history of doing this to me and no amount of me attempting to explain that my life and my decisions are not his to influence or determine unless I specifically ask for his opinion or advice seemed to make him understand that. So I gave him a very clear, explicit guideline of what I was looking for in a friendship at this point in my life:

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last 6 months of my life hard core purging people and relationships that are not conducive to my own support and well being. And that included a fuck ton of people who couldn’t find it in themselves to let me live my life the way I wanted to and simply provide me with the emotional support that I needed while going through a lot of shit.

So the thing is, I no longer have the time or the patience for people and relationships that can’t respect me, my choices, or my boundaries. I’ve come a long way in the last two months. Maybe even in the last two weeks. The personal development seems to continue to grow with every bridge I burn. I even blocked my dad’s phone number a few weeks ago.

So if you want to be my friend, then show up for me in the way that I need and how I need it. If you can’t do that… then that’s not a friendship that I want or need in my life at this point.

He didn’t like that. At all. So I had to throw some gasoline on that bridge, too, and I didn’t shed a tear over it.

Later in the week, I walked from my apartment down to another neighborhood where I was attending a business meetup and panel discussion. The walk was approximately 1.4 miles which took about 20 minutes. In the short amount of time that it took me to get there, I was cat called five times.

I’ve written about my experiences with sexual harassment in the past rather candidly and I talk about the things I experience day-to-day openly in my Facebook group. I think my previous writings about my experiences have made a pretty good case as to why this is such an issue, and this week’s events only served to support it.

I posted a Facebook status about my experience, thinking that many of the women on my friends list would be able to identify. So many of us endure near daily physical and emotional intimidation while simply walking down the street, fearing that if we don’t respond in the pleasing manner in which we are expected to, that we’ll be met with anger and threats of violence. Sometimes that happens even when we attempt to ignore it.

The commentary that followed from total strangers, both men and women who were supposedly “spiritual,” as that is the major makeup of my 4,000 or so followers, was utterly shocking to me.

I hope I don’t have to explain the absurdity behind all of the “just deal with it or stop going out” and “take it as appreciation” comments, but in case I do:

“I was told that I should take it as a compliment. I had other male friends tell me the same thing.
I’ve also been told the same thing about cat-calling and various other forms of verbal harassment. “It just means you’re pretty!” No. It doesn’t mean I’m pretty. It means I’m a target, and not only are you telling me that I should just accept unwanted negative attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment, you’re telling me that I should LIKE it. That’s fucked up.” – The Systemic Perpetuation of Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

If that’s not gaslighting and emotional abuse at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

“Here, let me abuse you, just a little, and then tell you that you’re silly for feeling uncomfortable. Sssh, baby, just let it happen. You’re so pretty, don’t you like it when I tell you that you’re pretty? What’s that? You don’t like it? Well maybe you shouldn’t dress that way. What’s that? People do this even when you have no makeup on and are wearing crappy workout clothes? Then maybe you should just stay in your house and not leave. You’re so privileged, thinking that you should be able to leave your house without being physically intimidated or verbally assaulted.

Maybe you shouldn’t have looked at me from across the room. Maybe you shouldn’t have been polite and talked to me when I said hi to you, even though if you’d ignored me I would have called you a bitch or a cunt gave you a little dose of the rage and anger I feel every time I’m rejected that I have to project onto the first woman that triggers my insecurities. Who are you to to tell me that your body doesn’t belong to me?”

Seems slightly more absurd when you think of it that way, yes?

Am I supposed to “take it as appreciation” when I walk past a 50 year-old-man on the sidewalk in broad daylight who starts singing a song to me about sucking his dick? Oh, that just means I’m pretty? Got it. Yeah, I’ll try to let that make me feel good about myself…

The next evening, I was at a bar having drinks with a new acquaintance. A guy across the bar – young, semi-attractive, white, kind of looked like a jock – was yucking it up with his buddies. I happened to look in his general direction, at which point he made eye contact with me and yelled to his friends, “Oh yeah! She wants me!”

I had no idea that turning my head to the left and glancing in someone’s general direction was considered a sexual advance. I guess I should just keep my eyes on the floor from now on. Or maybe just not leave my house. But apparently, I can’t speak up about any of it, either, because then I’m just being bitter and complaining. How dare I tell someone, anyone, that it’s not ok to verbally assault, sexually harass, or otherwise overstep any of my boundaries. God, Ashley, you’re such a whiny cunt. Suck it up. Deal with it.

So I’m also not allowed to feel anything about it, because somehow my internal emotions are enabling and justifying this person’s behavior toward me. I’m just supposed to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes and pretend it’s all roses and sunshine, cause you’ve gotta keep that vibration up, you know?

Spare me your new age spiritual bypassing bullshit and pull your head out of your more-enlightened-than-thou ass.

Living your life where everywhere you go, men of all ages, races, and backgrounds are objectifying you, harassing you, and in some cases, physically attempting to intimidate you DAILY is not “such a small thing.” It is a global epidemic. A (shitty) piece of patriarchal karma that needs to be dismantled.

Women have been subjected to this kind of shit for so long that we are afraid to put up boundaries and stand up for ourselves, for fear of god knows what happening. But that’s a clear violation of our boundaries, and it’s not right, and FUCK ANYBODY who tells you that you can’t be pissed off about it or that you should just learn to live with it and deal with. That’s the kind of passive nonchalance that allows this heinous kind of suppression to continue. How about YOU stop ENABLING these douchebags and get on board with the rest of us so that we don’t have to live like this anymore? Because that’s what we’re here to do.

Additionally, to those who think that thinking happy thoughts will magically sweep all of the nasty shit in their lives under the rug… have I got news for you! Personal growth is painful. It requires real, raw, gut-wrenching WORK. Not just on your mind. Not just in how you talk, but also in what you do. Thought, word, deed – that’s the formula for manifestation. So if you’re not going get off of your fluffy ass and do something about it, then GET OFF MY LAWN, or at least get the fuck off of my Facebook page.

My original post spurred a secondary post by someone who got caught up in the conversation, and there was plenty of douchebaggery to be found there as well, with comments like, “Men have been flirting with women this way (in other cultures also) for ages. It’s like peacocking. And don’t be fooled. Women do it also and men feel great when it happens so what is the beef? People got to stop being such bitches sometimes and start loving life as it is.” Someone in my own group even commented, “I get sexually harassed, too. Damn sexist women!”

So let me get this straight…you think that your experience as a 6 foot, 200 pound something man being hit on by a woman is the same as my experience of having a total stranger who is twice my size walk up to me on the street, start pushing his body against me and telling me all the things he wants to do to me? And because you, as a man, feel great when a woman hits on you, that I, as a woman, should feel great about my experience as well?

How many times have you’ve rebuffed a sexual advance from a woman and she responded with an angry outburst? Maybe called you a name or screamed at you in a public place?

Has a woman twice your size – someone that could very easily overpower you, a complete and total stranger, ever come up to you while you’re walking down the street and done what that man did to me? I doubt it.

I get called a bitch and a cunt and a skank for simply IGNORING someone’s advances. Who knows what would happen if I actually responded.

Well, actually, I do, because I have done that on a few occasions with people who were on the lesser end of the intimidation spectrum. He still screamed at me in the middle of a party. I was told to “drop dead” once. That was fun.

Our experiences are fundamentally different, because yours don’t involve threats of violence, death wishes, or the possibility that someone will beat you, shoot you, or rape you simply because you said, “No.”

You got it, buddy. Let’s recap the definition of Sexual Harassment, shall we?

Sexual Harassment: harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

There’s a sure fire way to avoid that. It’s so simple, you’re gonna freak! You ready? You listening?

Take an interest in a woman as a person, first – who she is, what she thinks, what she believes – rather than immediately jumping to, “I think you’re sexy.”

Strike up a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with her physical appearance. Just like you’d talk to a man. Or your mother. Or your sister. Or your niece. Or, you know, a normal, living, breathing human being.

After that, you can pretty easily assess whether or not she is interested in you, at which point, feel free to tell her you’re attracted to her.

Or… OR…

By now, you may be wondering to yourself, “What do the two things you’re talking about in this post have to do with each other, other than the fact that they both occurred in the same week?” I’m about to get there.

You see, not a single one of those people who made those comments up there has ever had a single conversation with me. They don’t even follow this blog. They’re just random people who saw a pretty face on Facebook and sent me a friend request, or, in the woman’s case, commented after her friend did. None of them know me. Not a damn one of them has met me. And yet, for some reason, they all felt the need to interject themselves, their opinions and their beliefs into my life, even going so far as to tell me how I should react, how I should feel, what I should think and what I should do in relation to this one little occurrence that I chose to document on Facebook.

Did I ask for their opinions or input about how I should feel, what I should think, or what I should do? Nope. Sure as fuck did not.

Sure, sure, it’s a public Facebook account and that’s simply the nature of a public forum. People are going to interject their shit and project their shit all over your posts. But the hilarious part is when they get pissed off that I tell them to mind their own damn business and get off my lawn.

It’s astounding how people will deflect themselves from dealing with their own shit by getting up in other people’s business and trying to tell them what to feel, think and do with their lives. Additionally, it’s also astounding when “enlightened” people show just how not enlightened they actually are.

You think that speaking up and telling someone that I will not allow them to treat me like an object, or that they have no inherent right to my body, or that they have no fucking business attempting to control and manipulate me by telling me how to think, act and feel makes me a victim? I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s not allowing myself to become a victim.

Get. Off. My. Motherfucking. Lawn.

What Clairaudience Is Like

What Clairaudience Is Like

Question from a reader:

“How do you know if it’s your loved one talking to you, or your subconscious?”

I would say the easiest way to discern between your mind and true clairaudience is the way the communication sounds.

In a previous blog post about what it’s like to be psychic, I explained how clairaudience manifests for the vast majority of people.

You can hear spirits’ voices if you are clairaudient, although most clairaudience comes in words and phrases, not usually full on sentences. It’s not like talking to someone on the phone.

Typically if you DO hear voices, they are not external (external clairaudience is pretty rare), they are typically in your head and many times can sound like your own voice, or one that is gender-neutral. If you’ve ever heard what spirit voices sound like on a spirit box or in EVPs – a lot of times they sound like that in my head, depending on who is doing the talking.

If you’re having full back and forth conversations, you’re most likely just chatting with yourself 🙂 But if you hear words and phrases come out of thin air that are completely outside of your current train of thought, you can be sure that it’s not coming from you.

 

Detecting Spiritual Bullshit

Detecting Spiritual Bullshit

Someone posed the question in my Facebook discussion group the other day, “What is your metaphysical superpower?” Without hesitation, I commented, “My metaphysical power is detecting bullshit.” Otherwise commonly known as “discernment” in spiritual circles.

It’s a useful superpower to have – particularly when you dabble in the new age community – because there is just so much absolutely off-the-wall, ridiculously ridiculous bullshit out there. It’s particularly easy to take advantage of people who are in a certain state of their spiritual awakening, especially when they have serious issues with grounding (and newsflash, just about every person on earth has problems being grounded because we’re so out of touch with ourselves and nature).

I’ve tackled discernment many times before, typically in the arena of fear-based beliefs (demons, ouija boards, soul sucking machines on the moon, evil alien computer chips… you know, stupid shit), and today, two more equally annoying things were brought to my attention.

1) That you can answer a few vaguely descriptive questions on a quiz and it’s going to tell you whether or not you are a starseed or an indigo, and then someone needs to “activate” you or “christen” you in some sort of bullshit metaphysical ceremony so that you can be whatever it is that you came to this planet to be (indigo/starseed/blah blah blah)…. for the low low price of just a $150 donation! 

Let’s get this straight – you’re the motherfucking universe and you had the power to manifest yourself forth from pure consciousness, spew out a few galaxies, supernovas and black holes in the process, create life, AND you managed to land yourself right here on planet Earth this cozy little body that somehow does all the amazing shit that it does and you believe in your oneness with all that is, but somebody else has got to work some juju on you so you can do the thing that you came here to do?

Listen here, honey… ain’t nothin’ and nobody on this planet got the power to do anything to you or for you but you. You want to be activated? Get off your ass and get to work… on yourself.

This particular type of bullshit is right up there with curse removals and implant deactivation and it preys on peoples’ ego and the need to feel more special than others, contributes to their sense of powerlessness, and utilizes their paradoxical belief that they currently aren’t special, even though they ARE THE MOTHERFUCKING UNIVERSE IN A BODY ON A PLANET THAT THEY CREATED HURLING THROUGH SPACE AT AN INCOMPREHENSIBLE SPEED.

I mean HOLY FUCK! Do you not know how powerful you are?!?!?  Apparently not, if you think that anyone on this planet can do anything for you, spiritually speaking, that you can’t already do for yourself.

So just remember that any time anybody claims that they are somehow uniquely positioned to help you do something that you can’t do for yourself, and especially if they’re charging you for it.

And by the way – if they claim it’s for a “donation” but won’t give you the service if you can’t afford the donation, then it’s not a fucking donation, okay? Donations are OPTIONAL. That’s the nature of them. Donations are also not specific in their amount. You give what you can. That’s what makes it a fucking donation. So if you offer $50 for said service instead of $150 and the person refuses, then it’s not a god damned donation, it’s a price!

I’m so over seeing people charging for their services and calling it a “donation” to somehow take the sting off. It’s bullshit. Balls up and be honest already. You’re selling something. [/endrant].

Also, let’s discuss the idea that a few yes or no questions about vague generalities that describe just about everybody can somehow confirm for you that you are or are not some fantastic metaphysical being. 

I ask you to question yourself about why that is important to you in the first place. How does it change anything for you? Is your life somehow better or more valuable because you’re a Starseed or an Indigo or a lightworker? If you answered yes to this question, you need to re-evaluate your ego, along with your self esteem. 😉 (See what I did there?)

I see a lot of people who say, “This explains why I feel so lonely here!” Maybe. But more likely, there are a lot of contributing factors to that feeling that have to do with this life right here on earth. You don’t have to actually BE an alien to feel like one. You simply have to feel like no one understands you, and a lot of us feel that way, starseed or not.

2) I happened across something in my Facebook feed today about people wanting to remove their chakras??????

Say what? Why? What would be the point? Like, not that you could if you wanted to, but again, why????  The only reasoning I can think of for this is that people believe they don’t have any kind of control over their own chakras (again, giving your fucking power away) and so they can go to somebody to have them “removed.” Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Seriously. SERIOUSLY. People will go to ridiculous lengths and subject themselves to the most crazy beliefs if it means they don’t have to actually face their own shit and take responsibility for themselves. Again, nothing and no one is responsible for your energy BUT YOU. Nothing and no one interferes with your energy except what you ALLOW.

Buying into the idea that you can somehow have your chakras removed is a way of attempting to escape the consequences of your own emotions and beliefs, and rather than do the work to become self aware and examine your own ego, you’re looking for the quick way out that requires as little of you as possible. Sort of defeats the whole purpose of why you came here.

There are no magic pills. Stop making yourselves victims! You’re not a victim of anything or anyone but yourself! When you give your power away, you make yourself a victim.

If you came here hoping I’d validate beliefs that allow you to remain the victim in your story, I apologize. You’ve wandered into the wrong place.

Around here, we create our own realities, use critical thinking, follow our intuition, accept responsibility for ourselves and our experiences and as a result, live exceptionally empowered lives… and no reptillians / demons / negative entity attachments / curses / implants / cabals / satan / [ insert whatever excuse people use these days to give their power away here ] has shit to do with any of it. All of those things – ALL OF THEM – are FEAR. And believe me when I say, there’s a hell of a lot more important things you could and should be working on (namely yourself) that are far more relevant to yourself and your personal happiness than sitting around obsessing about shit that you have no control over and using them as reasons to feel comfortable in your fearful state.

Today’s post was brought to you by the magical power of the words “Fuck Off.” If you enjoyed today’s post, I highly recommend viewing my other post on Discernment, otherwise known as “The Top Six Things You Should Tell to Fuck Off.”

The Spiritual Person’s Guide to Politics As Usual

The Spiritual Person’s Guide to Politics As Usual

As spiritual people, we talk a lot about recognizing our underlying belief systems and expanding our awareness – for the world around us, but mostly of ourselves – and how that’s the mechanism for spiritual growth, and we’re able to expand that awareness through the experiences we have.

And yet there are still so many things that affect us that we are not fully aware of until we are able to see our situation from a wider, more holistic perspective and that includes an intense study of ourselves in relation to our society and the individuals around us.

As some of you may know, aside from journalism, I studied sociology pretty intensely in college. Apparently I had a natural talent for it, as one of my professors attempted to convince me to change my major to it two years in. Sociology is interesting because it factors in human psychology, but looks at it from a broader context – in how humans interact with one another in group settings, and there’s a lot going on in the world today that is exceptionally relevant to the study of sociology.

Politics and Religion

Politics is right up there with religion as one of the most divisive belief systems in existence. And it IS a belief system.

And it is greatly informed by religion (after all, religion used to be the law of the land until government decided it needed to be a separate entity. This, of course, was merely an illusion – there is no true secular state for as long as people with religious ideologies are running said states and creating laws in said states because the laws they create will always reflect their religious beliefs and you see that struggle playing out in our country on a daily basis).

I’d like to make one thing about myself abundantly clear. I. LOATHE. POLITICS. I don’t hate the government, in general. It’s a system and it’s no better or worse than the people who keep it running (a.k.a. us…). I don’t hate social issues. I don’t hate economic issues. These are things worthy of discussion that need to be figured out.

What I hate is the fact that in this country (and in every country), people do one (or all) of a few things:

  • Listen to what they hear on TV and don’t bother to research anything else.
  • Believe everything they read on the internet, no matter how ridiculously biased it is.
  • Surround themselves with information bias by only listening to what they hear on news outlets that reinforce their own beliefs.
  • Do “research” but only research from the aforementioned sources that reinforce their own biases and ignore the things that don’t.
  • Make up their minds based on partial or oversimplified explanations of complex issues (this is actually the root cause of all the above).

Misplaced Emotion

I posted an article in my discussion group earlier today and included some commentary that touched on several of the following points:

One of the ways that you are being duped by the media, politicians and even by your own ego is when perfectly neutral and factual academic concepts are politicized through oversimplification in such a way as to cause your subconscious biases to flare up and latch onto a specific narrative without actually actively thinking about what you’re saying or doing… a.k.a. having an emotional reaction.

And then you do that thing that people do where they read an article title on the internet and immediately get offended and then don’t read the article at all or at least only read it partially before they start mouthing off about it without having actually understood it in its entirety.

“According to a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked: In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it.

Worse, the study finds that these sort of blind peer-to-peer shares are really important in determining what news gets circulated and what just fades off the public radar. So your thoughtless retweets, and those of your friends, are actually shaping our shared political and cultural agendas.

But most interesting…this habit of sharing without clicking — a habit that, when you think about it, explains so much of the oft-demoralizing cesspool that is Internet culture. Among the many phenomena we’d tentatively attribute, in large part, to the trend: the rise of sharebait (nee clickbait) and the general BuzzFeedification of traditional media; the Internet hoax-industrial complex, which only seems to be growing stronger; and the utter lack of intelligent online discourse around any remotely complicated, controversial topic.”

Or, you DO read it and it evokes such a visceral emotional reaction that you don’t even bother to ask yourself why it makes you feel the way you do, you just start vomiting your emotionally-driven rhetoric, which then triggers someone else and they do the same thing, creating a chain reaction where you spend the next thirty minutes (or three hours) arguing with a “moron” on the internet about politics, knowing full well that you’re not going to change one another’s minds.

But you’re not doing it for their benefit, you’re doing it for YOUR benefit, because you want to be RIGHT.

‘Round here that’s what we call an “emotional trigger” and those, too, are things that we are supposed to be using our superpower of self-awareness to pinpoint and learn from.

To paraphrase Anais Nin, we don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. We project our own beliefs onto everything we see and then act accordingly, thus contributing to the way the world is.

The people crafting our political campaigns KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how to push all of your emotional buttons and get you so riled up that you’ll vote for their candidate no matter how shady you logically know they are. Another tactic commonly used is masquerading behind highly emotional social issues and completely ignoring or downplaying other important topics. That’s not to say that discussions around those social issues shouldn’t be had – because they should. But they should be had in a constructive, rational manner  that takes into account all of the complexities involved – not in an overly simplified screaming match that only addresses one or two aspects and treats them as “right” or “wrong.”

Politics is just another form of duality – Liberal vs. Conservative, Republican vs. Democrat. The longer we maintain the “right or left” way of looking at things, we’re going to continue to be divided. You have to learn how to take a step back, detach from your emotional reaction and consider ALL sides of an issue. That’s how we approach our own personal development, it should also be how we approach our politics.

Recognizing your biases and your emotional triggers and how your personal belief systems feed into your political belief system is how you do that.

Here’s a few links to my previous posts that tackle some of these topics:

I challenge every single person who reads this to begin questioning your political alliances the same way you would question your own beliefs about yourself as part of your personal development process. I challenge you, the next time you read a headline or an article that is related to a political issue, to stop and assess your own emotional reaction and begin to question why it makes you feel that way.

Ask yourself, ‘Is this reaction coming from a place of love or a place of fear?’ (if it’s a negative reaction, it’s coming from fear. Period.) Ask yourself what your motivation is for liking or agreeing with said article – is it because it’s something that actually made you think, or is it because it agrees with your own beliefs?

I also challenge you to never EVER like, comment, or share another link on the interwebs without actually reading it and fully digesting what it says from a neutral standpoint, considering all sides.

Do you think you can do it?

Spiritual Invalidation

Spiritual Invalidation

Atopic that has popped up in discussion from time to time over the last couple of years is the concept of “spiritual invalidation.” Most people define this as another person telling them that their spiritual experience is wrong.

Spiritual invalidation really is just an extension of emotional invalidation, which is defined as:

The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.

The first thing you have to understand about invalidation is that it’s an environment. What constitutes an environment? Repetitive singular instances of invalidation that are consistently and systematically directed toward a specific individual or individuals over time so as to change the thoughts and behaviors of the target.

Invalidation is often employed by abusers toward an abusee in an effort to keep them under control. In the case of “spiritual invalidation,” an example would be when a person consistently belittles a person’s spiritual beliefs, positions them as inferior, etc.

Let’s discuss emotional invalidation, specifically:

Emotional invalidation is when a person’s thoughts and feelings are rejected, ignored, or judged.

It is important to distinguish here that emotional invalidation is internal. It’s telling someone that they shouldn’t feel an emotion, or trivializing that emotion. It’s also important to differentiate that judging something as “bad” is not the same as discerning something as “incorrect.” Bad is an opinion. Incorrect is based on observable factual evidence. The same goes for right and wrong. Wrong, from a moral standpoint, would be a judgement and equivalent to “bad.” Wrong, from a factual standpoint, would be equivalent to “incorrect” which would be a provable statement of reality.

If you click the link in the above definition, you’ll see a long list of examples of how people emotionally invalidate others. One of which is this:

Misunderstanding What it Means to Validate: Sometimes people invalidate because they believe if they validate they are agreeing. A person can state, “You think it’s wrong that you’re angry with your friend,” and not agree with you. Validation is not agreeing. But because they want to reassure you they invalidate by saying, “You shouldn’t think that way.”

This is important in understanding what invalidation is not. Just as “validation is not agreeing,” disagreeing with them is not invalidating them. Pointing out when someone is factually incorrect is not invalidating them as a person.

In fact, when someone is factually incorrect, and is presented with evidence of that, and still clings to their belief, it is considered a delusion:

Delusion: an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument.

Emotional invalidation doesn’t even have to be negative in nature. When someone is feeling negative and expresses it, and you tell them that they shouldn’t feel bad, they should feel happy because ______, you’re still invalidating their emotion.

This is the most common scenario I see when/where someone throws out the spiritual invalidation term:

Person A posts a story or a photo in a group about an experience they had.

“I was walking down the beach and found a white feather. It was a sign from my guardian angels.”

Person B comments, “Seagulls are pretty common on the beach. They have white feathers. The odds of finding a white feather on the beach are probably relatively reasonable.”

Person A accuses Person B of invalidation.

Another example:

Person A posts a photo in a group and says, “Look at this orb! It’s my (insert dead relative here).”

Person B comments on the photo and says, “This is a lens flare.” and proceeds to provide a mountain of examples of lens flares and a detailed scientific explanation of how lens flares occur.

Person A accuses Person B of invalidating their experience.

Both of these instances are examples of delusion if Person A refuses to acknowledge the logical and factual evidence provided by Person B.

In all of these instances, Person A is stating an external experience which he or she has already attached a belief to. Person B is disagreeing with assessment of the external experience and offering an alternative possibility. Person A becomes defensive because the belief that they have attached to the external experience feels challenged and then they accuse Person B of spiritual invalidation.

What is really occurring here is that Person A is actually invalidating themselves. Person B is disagreeing with their assessment of an external experience. Person A is interpreting that disagreement as a judgement of their internal belief (probably because he or she is insecure in their beliefs and themselves at this point). They are then projecting that invalidation onto Person B, because Person B is the catalyst for triggering their insecurity.

I’ve discovered, through various interactions and experiments, that people often have a very difficult time separating their emotions/ beliefs/ opinions and thoughts.  They tend to cluster together and so when an emotion or belief is attached to an opinion and someone disagrees with the opinion, the person feels their emotions are being challenged and they become defensive.

Here is a true example of spiritual invalidation posted to my Facebook discussion group earlier today:

My argument was, ‘be objective’ and I was told if I’m not for what they’re for then I’m against them. Wtf? Then I said I believe in reincarnation and we choose our lives and it all got turned into ‘I’m a stupid person.’

This person’s personal character was called into question because of their spiritual belief. Herein lies the difference between these two examples.

You may feel like that person is questioning your intelligence when they disagree with your assessment of your experience – but that feeling is coming from inside you, not them. That’s when you are subconsciously invalidating yourself.

Let’s take it a step further:

Person A posts a dream to a group about a natural disaster and says, “I feel that this means something bad is coming.” They proceed to tell everyone that they should go out and buy supplies.

Person B comments that dream symbolism most often is relevant to the dreamer and emotional situations the dreamer is experiencing, rather than being a literal prediction. Person B encourages Person A to reflect further upon their dream experience and perhaps consider other possibilities.

Person A accuses Person B of invalidation.

At no point did Person B tell Person A that they should not feel that something bad is coming. At no point did Person B even question Person A’s feeling. What Person B called into question was Person A’s assessment and the subsequent belief that Person A attached to that emotion.

Encouraging a person to look at a subjective experience from another perspective does not constitute spiritual invalidation. Telling a person that they are crazy or a bad person for believing what they believe is spiritual invalidation. Separating the emotion from the belief can be difficult, particularly for those in the midst of the emotion itself.

It may be the case that Person A has been chronically invalidated by a person or persons in their life and as such, have become highly sensitive to criticism (constructive or not). If this is the case, it can be incredibly difficult for Person A to participate and function in an environment where discussion and sharing of opinions occurs, as they can be easily triggered when people disagree with them, because many times, their purpose for participating is to find validation externally. But validation will be difficult to find in this type of environment. The best option for Person A is to find a support group or therapist who can work with their emotional needs and help them find validation within themselves.

A big part of spirituality is about learning to detach ourselves from the beliefs that we have about the world around us and even, in some cases, detaching our emotions from our beliefs. It’s the only way we will ever be able to grow and change our perspective.

I hope this post was helpful for you, and I do hope you’ll share it any time you see the subject arise.

Your Definitive Guide to Debunking Orbs: Lens Flares

Your Definitive Guide to Debunking Orbs: Lens Flares

As you may have noticed by now, tons of people are interested in photographing orbs and people online are constantly posting photos where they’ve captured something on camera that appears to be out of the ordinary, wondering whether or not they’ve photographed an orb. This post is dedicated to debunking orbs that are, in fact, a natural photography phenomenon known as lens flares.

The VAST majority of the photos that I’ve seen are not of a paranormal nature and are quite easily debunked by a single phenomena – lens flares. Not only are they explainable, they’re also extremely easy to replicate as I will be showing you here in this blog post.

Debunking Orbs: What’s a Lens Flare?

Lens flares are simply light that is being reflected through the multiple glass pieces within your camera lens when there is an outside light source (aside from your camera’s own flash) in the photo such as the sun, the moon, a lamp, fire, a flashlight, or even your own camera’s flash being reflected in a mirror. A modern camera lens is actually an assemblage of multiple lenses called elements and housed in a barrel, like so:

A lens flare is created when lighted reflects off of one or more than one of these many lenses. The more light you have your camera set to allow in, the more pronounced the flares will be. If you shoot with a lens hood, you can prevent the glare entirely.

Here are two of my engagement photos. One of them was shot specifically to use lens flares for a creative effect. In the other, the settings were changed to allow less light.

The result – lens flares:

lens-flares-on-purpose

No lens flares:

no-lens-flares
Flares Everywhere!
Once you start to notice lens flares, you can literally see them EVERYWHERE and debunking orbs becomes pretty easy. The photo below is a screen cap from a car commercial in which you will see several lens flares resulting from the sun in the top left corner of the screen.

commercial-lens-flare

They also appear frequently in commercials, TV shows and movies these days – much to the annoyance of some fans. JJ Abrams, for example, is notorious for his usage of lens flares in his movies. So notorious, in fact, someone created an entire YouTube video explaining how lens flares are created, all in the context of JJ Abrams movies.

Yes – lens flares can even occur in space. This is a photo snapped and posted to Twitter (from space) by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station of the sun setting over Earth’s horizon.

lens-flare-in-space

Lens flares can occur in any type of camera. The photo below was taken with my iPhone.

sun-glare

These photos were taken with my iPhone. I used an arrow to point out some of the less obvious flares that you might not notice such as the corona (the big circle around the light source -in this case, the sun) and the infamous “green orb” that so many people capture on their own photos and ask about later, as they tend to not notice it as they are taking the photo.

In the top right photo, you don’t notice the green orb because the angle of the camera has it “far away” so it’s very small, whereas the photo below it, it is “up close” so it appears much larger. The flares will be exaggerated and change shape depending on the angle you are holding the camera.

Orbs 1

As mentioned above, these can actually be caught on film as well, and I’ve seen people mistake them for real orbs or UFOs. In the video below, I show you how the “green orb” moves around with your camera.

Debunking Orbs in the Day Time

For these photos, I used my DSLR, which allows me a lot more camera settings (and contains a lot more lenses) than my iPhone, so you can get an entirely different look from the lens flares.

In the photo on the bottom right, I showed you how even light being reflected off of a reflective surface can still create a lens flare. That’s the sun reflecting off of my neighbor’s back window and into my camera. This can also occur with mirrors or any other shiny surface.

lens flares

Another bit that can show up in photos with a bright light source is light reflecting off of dust or insects in the air that you don’t notice until you’ve snapped the photo. The arrows below are pointing this out. I could actually see these floating around with my naked eye, but the camera exaggerates it quite a bit.

geometric-lens-flare
Below are a few more videos I made to show you how this can occur with various degrees of light and different light sources. The first two are from candle flames, and the last one is from the full moon.

Debunking Orbs in the Dark

Obviously the bigger the light source, the greater the flare, so if you were to do this same thing with a bonfire, for example, you would have a much greater effect.

So, the next time you capture something on film that you’ve never seen before, ask yourself: Is there a sun/moon/lamp/mirror/window/candle/fire or any other possible light source in the frame or just outside it? If so, then you have most likely created a lens flare.

If you find yourself thinking, “But mine doesn’t look like these!” that’s ok – these are just a few of the myriad of examples of lens flares. Just do a quick google of “examples of lens flares” and weed through all the JJ Abrams jokes to find several additional examples. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to debunking orbs, and perhaps learned a thing or two!

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