KEW Episode 67: Authenticity

Definition of authentic (Taken from Merriam-Webster)

1 a: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact paints an authentic picture of our society

b: conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features an authentic reproduction of a colonial farmhouse

c: made or done the same way as an original authentic Mexican fare

2: not false or imitationREALACTUALan authentic cockney accent

3: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

4 aof a church mode ranging upward from the keynote— compare PLAGAL sense 1

b of a cadence progressing from the dominant chord to the tonic— compare PLAGAL sense 2

5 obsolete AUTHORITATIVE

Geeze, that’s thorough, eh? But let me summarize:

Factual

Same or similar

Real

True

Sincere (like a pumpkin patch)

So, yeah, something real, or representative of something real. But most interesting is that many of these depict a thing REPRESENTING another thing. And that RESEMBLANCE is either good (authentic, real, conforming, true) or not (not authentic, fake, different, false). And remember, a dictionary is book of what we THINK words mean, not what they necessarily mean.

In the context of the Are vs Should Problem, authenticity is behaving in the world the way you feel/want/believe you behave in your head.

On the surface, this may seem like it means you must live in your Are to be authentic. I don’t believe this is true, however.

I think we all exhibit a certain amount of Shoulds throughout our lives, no matter how hard we try not to. We are going to slip. We are human.

The goal is not to live 100% Are and 0% Should, it’s to do the best you can. I don’t see any other way around it. We always build in an error term. A human error term. Which provides a degree of . . . . missing the mark. Failing. Being Inauthentic. It’s ok!

So there’s two points in this Episode, really. One is that the Are is your Authentic Self, and we have been discussing authenticity for the past twenty or so episodes – to point out and use the common vernacular. And the second point is that we are not trying to be 100% perfect, or 100% anything. The utility of a concept like authenticity is as a target to aim for, not something to become.

Much more in this Episode, available as a direct podcast download here:

https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9344977-kew-episode-67-authenticity.mp3?download=true

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YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/U_cpuXKbHVM

And please subscribe and comment on my YouTube page, as well.

KEW Episode 65: How Do We Know if We Really Know What We Think We Know?

To some, this is a ridiculous question steeped in pointless naval gazing. To others, it’s a comedic take on people who ask the ‘big questions’. To others this is a reasonable assessment of what we want to understand. To me, it’s all three at the same time. And maybe that’s the point.

And like most rhetorical questions, I don’t really want to KNOW if I really know what I think I know. Rather, I’m curious about how this questions makes one think a few steps ahead. It’s not about what we know. It’s about the idea that we think we know in the first place. Like, what makes us think we are so awesome that we can understand the very nature of a thing? What makes us think we are so special? Why are we the only living thing on the planet that can ‘know’? Or is that even a logical thought in the first place?

So, yeah, wondering whether we can even really know things is interesting in and of itself. Perhaps even more interesting than the simple question of whether we are right or wrong. Because that’s the nature of knowing, I think. Knowing implies we are correct. And like my buddy Paul Gadola says, we all think we are correct. So knowing is a bit biased to say the least. We ALL think we know. And we often disagree. And modernity has brought, if nothing else, an ever increasing number of potential explanations to things which means the options of knowing what is right are becoming more and more infinite.

In other words, knowing, or being right, is increasingly more impossible. And, more importantly, does it even matter? If there are ‘subjective truths’ (which I believe are really subjective realities, and not truths at all) then REALLY what does it matter? Can’t we all be right? Doesn’t everyone get a trophy?

What follows, then, is my curiosity in the knowing itself. Not whether or not I know. And how did I arrive at that knowing? One of the major assumptions of the Are vs Should Problem is that much of what we think and believe was simply inherited, so why do we connect so much of our identity with this inherited ‘knowledge’?

Moreover, isn’t it the capacity to think we know stuff far more interesting than actually knowing the stuff? Were the ancient Greeks correct to ‘know thyself’? Isn’t that the first step, anyway? How can we know ANYTHING without first understanding how we would even begin to know in the first place?

Podcast audio download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9261427-kew-episode-65-how-do-we-know-if-we-really-know-what-we-think-we-know.mp3?download=true

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YouTube video link here: https://youtu.be/9qGAvcDwg6M

Here are two links to the Toltec and Taoist ideas of ‘not doing’ and ‘non thinking’:

Preview video below:

FLASHBACK! KEW Curiosity Interview Series 4: David McRaney of ‘You Are Not So Smart’

Man, that’s the best snippet up there. Watch it if you didn’t. It will tell you all you need to know about the type of guy David McRaney is.

I’m still not sure how this happened, but David McRaney agreed to talk with me about Curiosity, and here’s over an hour of his unique viewpoints. I still refer back to several things he said during this interview. David is the host of an awesomely educational (if not humbling) Podcast called ‘You Are Not So Smart‘, author of several books, and apparently plotting a new video format project. In all of his work, he removes the veils of error that encumber us bumbling humans.

And that’s not to say that David is pretentious or ‘holier than thou’. Quite the contrary. Though Mr. McRaney does point out the many fallacies and errors that humans make every day, he doesn’t blame us for not knowing better. Rather, David is a journalist who insists on helping us become more aware of ourselves. . . and each other.

David’s work, if I can be so bold to say, aims at making us better. By pointing out our faults he is not trying to sting, he is trying to induce growth. And, dare I say it, CURIOSITY.

David is also a really cool (and rare) combination of trained journalist (the old school kind who uses words like ‘beat’) and self educated psychologist. He is THE most thorough researcher I have ever met, and I was a scientist for 20 years.

So, yeah, I believe him when he says he has never been bored.

He also shares how the term ‘angst’ came to be.

This interview is full of wisdom. I hope you enjoy listening to David McRaney.

Link to original post with full audio and video links here: https://chrisburcher.com/2021/03/19/kew-curiosity-interview-series-4-david-mcraney-of-you-are-not-so-smart/

KEW Episode 56: Domestication

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of many books including ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)‘ uses the term “Domestication” to describe the process by which humans are taught how to live. I have been fascinated by this process, whatever you wish to call it, for as long as I can remember. In fact, I still wonder, often out loud, why no one ever asked whether or not I was agreeing to this social contract. See, we are born into a world that teaches us many things before we even know what’s happening to us.

And a social contract is very much what domestication is like. We are taught so many things. How to eat, how to walk, how to speak, what to believe in, where Santa Claus lives, which religion is best, whether or not skin color matters. . . . The list is infinite. We are TAUGHT these things. Many of these things are opinions, some of them are factual, and very few of them are valuable.

Because some rules are totally important. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t spit at people. Don’t eat raw kittens. So, sure, some of the domestication process is good and even fundamentally necessary to a healthy society.

The PROBLEM IS, that much of the domestication process is not only unnecessary, it’s unfair. And in the context of the Are vs. Should Problem, domestication becomes the Should Bully by teaching us what to think, how to act, and what or whom to believe in.

And the WORST part is, much of this domestication occurs before we can consent. We are, in fact, brainwashed at very early ages to follow the rules. Again, some of this is good, but a lot of it is NOT. But it’s ok, IF we understand this and can go back and edit ourselves, or update what we believe, feel, and do as we grow and change.

The lucky ones, usually in our teenage years but often again in mid life, realize we have learned some weird shit. At certain times in our lives we QUESTION our own beliefs. We get CURIOUS about our thoughts. We WONDER who is really making our decisions. If we’re lucky something encourages us to question WHO WE ARE. It is at these times we have a chance to take back our lives, our minds, and our DNA.

This week I share my thoughts about the Domestication process, discuss the damages caused, and provide a warning about our future. Solutions are necessary and urgent. Please follow this series and help me find some.

Link to podcast download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/8947786-kew-episode-56-domestication.mp3?download=true

or, please subscribe to the KEW podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.

Link to YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/kVRRKf2zh6k

FLASHBACK!! KEW Episode 42: Safety

In this Episode I talked about how important it is for humans to feel safe. We need to feel safe in the same way that we need food, water, and shelter. Feeling unsafe is exhausting and will do whatever it takes to feel safe. Truly, we spend all of our energy trying to escape a feeling of vulnerability. If we cannot reach a state of feeling safe, we will continue to waste our precious energy trying. As a result, many of us go through life exhausted.

In fact, this can be a huge issue if we don’t define safety accurately – or more precisely, if we are too severe in our expectations of safety. We can’t guarantee anything in life, and acquiring 100% safety is impossible. If we are unable to compromise, or to find safety from multiple sources, we are doomed to fail and to be anxious, depressed, and frightened.

This topic of episode plays into Episodes 54 and 55 about the Bully and your DNA, where the ‘Should’ voices in our heads are making it more and more difficult for us to achieve a feeling of safety, or that we are good enough. I hope you enjoy revisiting this Episode, or listing or watching for the first time. And please check out the Are vs Should series beginning with Episode 50.

Link to original Episode 42: Safety post: https://chrisburcher.com/2021/02/26/kew-episode-42-safety/

KEW Episode 54: The Bully and your DNA: Part 1

Last week I introduced a few examples of the Are vs. Should problem. One of the most obvious examples comes up when we think about our careers. When we’re young people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, many of us wonder what became of those childhood dreams when we find ourselves doing jobs we don’t like. And I’ll argue it’s because we listen more to our Shoulds than to our Ares.

And this isn’t to say that Shoulds are all bad, because I think their intent is honorable. Our shoulds are single-minded in trying to keep us safe. As with our choice of career, the Should wants us to make enough money to take care of ourselves and to ‘be happy’. Unfortunately, the Should is a mosaic of all of the ‘responsible’ voices in our lives telling us what to do, how to think. and how to act in life in an effort to ‘be happy’.

The problem is, the Should isn’t YOU, and it doesn’t really understand what YOU want. The Should wants what ‘the world’ wants. What your teachers, parents, family, friends, and other close relationships want. The Should is modified by the tv we watch and the articles we read on the internet. The Should is deigned to keep the Are at bay, and to push this common agenda at all costs. I’ll talk more about the Are in Part 2 of this miniseries, but for now let’s just say your Are represents the ‘real you’ or your ‘true self’. Or something like that – whereas the Should is partly you, but is comprised of all the voices you hear everyday.

Historically, I think humans connected more with the ‘real you’, or ‘true self’. In other words, we used to listen to the Are more. The emerging problem is, we see a lot of Should in the world today. I’d say more and more people are spending more and more time in their Should than in years past, and humans are losing their Ares in the process.

I think a result of this increasing Should phenomenon is that the Should has become a bully. Rather than being just one of your many parts, the Bully has become the loudest, most feared, and threatening ally in our head. Due to the peaceful nature of our Are, the Should now represents the antithesis to the ‘real you’. The Should berates us, exaggerates reality, and will do anything to keep you from listening to your other parts. But it’s not only that the Should’s voice is becoming louder, it is becoming more and more stifling and homogenous.

The onset of social media, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and the idea that everyone else is more perfect than you further strengthens our Shoulds. Now our Should aims even higher. To perfection, even, making it impossible to get even close to achieving what the Should would tell us to achieve. To the point where many therapists and counselors suggest we don’t use Should statements at all because this line of thinking sets us up for failure, depression, anxiety, and frustration.

So somehow this Should part of our ‘self’ has gotten way out of hand. The should is taking over who we imagine ourselves to be and creating anxiety, depression, and frustration. It is time to regain control of the voices in our heads by realizing there is a dictator in charge that needs to be checked. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to reconnect with, and listen to, your Are.

Next week I’ll talk about the Are and why it is critical to rediscover yours.

To hear more about the Should side of your self, listen or watch the full Episodes below.

Full podcast audio can be downloaded and listened to here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/8865550-kew-episode-54-the-bully-and-your-dna-part-1.mp3?download=true

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Full YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/JSKOeF17SFU

KEW Episode 48: Unlearning

As I move toward Episode 50 and what I hope to be a major shift in what I’m working toward with KEW, I realize how important Unlearning is. 

How do we KNOW if we REALLY know what we THINK we know?

Well, we don’t. But we can think about it. And unlearning comes in to play as a necessary ‘next step’ for those of us who have ever asked this kind of question. Or questions like:

Who am I?
What’s all this about?
What’s the meaning of life?
Is there life after death?
Why is my dad so racist?

Generally, Unlearning is only important to people who have ever wondered WHY they feel a certain way, think a certain way, or behave a certain way. Where did this ‘certain way’ come from? I’ll develop this idea much further after episode 50, but for now let’s say that MUCH of what we think, what we ARE, WHO we are comes from stuff we never really thought much about. Things we automatically learned as we grew up. Some of it we learned before we even had awareness. Or free will. Some of us carry these beliefs into adulthood. Some of us never know.

But for those of us who DO know. Who have asked these types of questions (who ARE you?). The first thing we have to do is recognize what we really KNOW and FEEL and BELIEVE and what’s just a bunch of stuff we learned. And then to sort of ‘wipe the slate clean’ and start over. That’s where UNLEARNING comes in. That’s all I’m saying when I say UNLEARN.

It’s about questioning our beliefs and our thoughts. It’s about figuring out what we DO think and believe. And about getting on the path toward exploring what life is all about. It’s pretty simple.

I hope you enjoy this week’s episode and stick around for what’s to come. Please follow me on my blog and/or YouTube and SIGN UP for weekly emails so you can participate in the development of these ideas.

Direct link to podcast audio: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/8549500-kew-episode-48-unlearning.mp3?download=true

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Direct link to YouTube video: https://youtu.be/TKpJgTCnDeY

KEW Episode 34: Self

WHO are you? WHAT are you? WHY are you?

On some metaphysical level we are awareness. We occupy a body on earth that abides by the laws of physics and biology, but what goes on when we think?

When I meditate, or even when I’m just making decisions in my day-to-day life, I FEEL like ‘I’ (whatever ‘I’ am) comes from a spot in my head that encompasses my brain and my eyes. That’s where I picture ‘me’ to be. But what is this?

Some have called it the ‘seat of consciousness’ and I like that. I think of that brain/eye spot as being the drivers seat of my physical body. My awareness, and my Self, emanates from there.

Ok, but it gets weirder. The awareness in the seat of consciousness varies with my emotional state. Yeah, it’s like I have multiple parts or characters that make up my ‘self’, depending on the situation.

If I’m fearful, the fearful me occupies the seat of consciousness.

If I’m sad, same thing. And so on for other emotions.

So I guess all these parts make up my self.

BUT WHO AM I THEN? What is the self?

More like this in this weeks’ episode. I hope you enjoy and please share with others you think might also enjoy.

Podcast audio here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/6867086-kew-episode-34-self.mp3?blob_id=29182601&download=true or via your favorite podcast host.

YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/Y25qcYHrwac