FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 33: Soul

In this Episode I tried to get at what our ‘soul’ is. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I think we all can agree that there’s a part of us that can’t really be identified. The soul is not our mind, it’s not our brain, it’s not our ‘self’ (whatever that is, see Episode 34 for my attempt at defining Self), it’s . . . something else.

Sometimes I think the soul is real, other times I doubt it’s existence. Most of the time I know there is SOMETHING going on inside us that defines us. Our, personality? or something? It’s beyond our appearance, or attitude, or how we refer to a group of people (I use y’all and you guys interchangeably because I was born in the south but grew up in the midwest). It’s . . . . much more than any of those things.

So the concept of soul probably lies in the unknowable. It might be something we just don’t have words for or something we can’t quite define.

And none of this even addresses whether the soul is immortal, which many religions suggest. My point in this episode is really just to explore the idea of soul – that which we can speak about but not truly understand. It’s ok with me if the soul is something we’ll never define or truly know about. But most of the time, I feel like I do:)

Episode preview video here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1110768896079673

Original post with podcast and YouTube links here: https://chrisburcher.com/2020/12/11/kew-episode-33-soul/

KEW Episode 44: Unnatural Selection

I am currently working on a larger project that will connect my background in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with personal growth, psychology, and finding more joy and fulfillment in our lives. In Episode 43 I introduce some evolutionary evidence that every individual human is born to discover their uniqueness (despite how ‘woo woo’ that sounds), and how NOT doing so goes against evolutionary theory.

I didn’t coin the term Unnatural Selection. People have used it, generally, to describe forces that affect evolution but are not necessarily a part of ‘regular life’. These forces become selection pressures when they influence the ability for a species to persist. For example, invasive species can be physically moved to new areas where they did not evolve and wreak havoc on the species living in that area. These selection pressures are some feature of the invasive organism that gives it an advantage and with which local species did not co-evolve. These forces often include predation, habitat use, aggression, or other forces that negatively impair local species.

The point of the term unnatural selection is that this novel selection force did not co evolve with the species it is affecting. Most of the time this disconnect is about time or space. In the invasive species example, the organisms didn’t occur in the same physical space (like a continent, island, or area) and so the issue is simply about relocation. Other times the unnatural condition is about time, and the obvious example is climate change. Many argue that human activities are a natural part of our evolution, but the key difference is the amount of time it has taken for these changes to occur. Sure, if human induced global changes occurred over millennia, the earth and its inhabitants may, indeed, have plenty of time to coevolve. But the sudden nature of temperature and CO2 changes over the past 100 years did not allow for such a response. Hence, the selection forces are unnatural.

That’s a long way to go to explain the basis for my argument, but well worth it I hope.

So the main argument I am making in this episode is that humans have imposed a few other unnatural selection forces upon ourselves. If you watched Episode 43, you will know that the main force I consider unnatural is that of conformity. Despite the evidence (which I find compelling, obviously, though you may not) that our DNA, by its very nature, demands that every human fully realize our uniqueness, yet human societies impose the opposite.

Societal norms, religions, laws, politics, and even the popular arts impose forces that encourage conformity. Because it is our nature to NOT conform, but to be UNIQUE, these forces are unnatural. Sure, norms and laws are important. Driving on one side of the road, wearing clothes, not punching people in the face. These are good things. Here I’m talking about mechanisms that discourage people from being different or to behave ‘like everyone else’. On the obvious end, ‘white people are better’ is an unnatural selection force. On the more obscure end, publishers requiring all books to be written according to a set of approved literary rules may result in really, really great books never being published.

The essence of unnatural selection is the intention to make everyone the same, and to make life difficult for those who insist on expressing their individuality. You probably won’t have to think very long to find examples of this in your own life. I have experience mdany examples in my life, and maybe that’s why it’s such a big deal to me.

Therefore, the ultimate travesty of unnatural selection is that the ideas, thoughts, and creativity humans need to survive the future may never come to light because they will be discouraged and effectively ‘weeded out’ of society. As the world becomes more crowded and less hospitable to humans, it becomes increasingly necessary to find unique ideas and approaches that will alter that path. Solving human problems, or any problem, REQUIRES unique viewpoints. As many as possible.

I hope you enjoy the episode. Your comments and thoughts are welcome and encouraged as I develop this idea further.

Full podcast audio here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/8198092-kew-episode-44-unnatural-selection.mp3?blob_id=37045344&download=true or via your favorite podcast app.

Full YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/hGtkOih1EC0

KEW Episode 36: Narcissism & Codependency

After my divorce I did some serious soul searching (and therapy) to figure out what happened. I accepted that both parties played a part in the divorce and wanted to understand what happened. Multiple lines of evidence support that my ex-wife became narcissistic and I became codependent. Now, I’m not saying ‘she is narcissistic’ or ‘I am codependent’, but our relationship brought out these personality traits and made them pretty severe. I think many people are affected by narcissistic and/or codependent tendencies, and the combination of the two in a relationship can be detrimental to both parties.

Narcissism is said to be an expression of selfishness, but self care is an important skill. Codependency has been described as prioritizing others’ needs over one’s own, but boundaries are important. While making this Episode I realized that a ‘healthy’ person probably has a little of both characteristics. In other words, a healthy person can practice self care and get their needs met, but also be empathetic towards others and accommodate their needs.

We tend to say or think things like, “He’s a narcissist” or “They’re a codependent’, but it’s probably pretty rare to encounter someone who is entirely one or the other. Sure, there are exceptions out there and I think we’d all agree that an extreme expression toward either condition is not good. At the very least extreme cases of narcissism or codependency we usually don’t want to be around or deal with.

My extreme codependency ended up with me being a door mat. And my ex-wife did end up being pretty narcissistic and self-serving (she had an affair and gaslighted me). But I think it was the combination of personality types in a struggling relationship that brought out the worst in each of us. I don’t really know if she is a narcissist, and I am not a ‘natural codependent’.

Since I can only really speak for myself, I will say I have codependent tendencies. I think this comes from how I grew up, some beliefs I formed as a child, but it’s also a result of my empathetic nature. I tend to have pretty weak boundaries and am very aware of how other people feel. This often leads me to feel like I need to take care of people (and that’s not really a good thing).

I don’t really know what it’s like for narcissistic people, but I can say that I am a bit jealous of people who know how to get their needs met – because I struggle to do that for myself.

I hope you enjoy the episode and get something out of my stories, my experiences, and observations.

Podcast audio download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/7055506-kew-episode-36-narcissism-codependency.mp3?blob_id=30164812&download=true or via your favorite podcasting app.

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

Preview KEW Episode 34: Self

Following up the Soul episode (KEW Episode 33) with a discussion of the Self.

What is the self?

I have been doing some work with a coach who is helping me understand the different parts of my psyche. Sound crazy? It isn’t. I am starting to believe that our ‘personalities’ or our ‘selves’ are comprised of myriad little parts. These parts are like characters or roles we play at different times in our lives and during our days. There are funny parts, angry parts, and sad parts. These parts, I think, exist because we give them our attention – or our awareness. And together they are elements of our Self.

Smarter people have written about and researched what the Self is, and I don’t pretend to understand the existing body of work on the subject. But it’s still meaningful to ask the question and to posit an explanation. This week I’ll share my thoughts about what a Self is.

Preview video on facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=225209702488851

Full Episode this Friday right here, on Youtube, or via your favorite podcast app.

KEW Episode 16: Who Tells Your Story?

Eliza Schuyler finally tells her husband’s story in Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”. But we’ll never really know Hamilton’s story, because he isn’t around to tell it. And, really, did he even know his story? Do you know yours?

Here I argue that it is an important goal of human life to understand who we are and why we do things. To ‘know thyself’ by the time we die. No one else can know us as well as ourselves, and any ‘history’ or ‘her story’ told about us is necessarily inaccurate as it is filtered by someone else’s lens. Only one person can know the ‘truth’, and that’s you.

And, really, it’s not the knowing but the journey toward knowing. Making the decision to know yourself is how you learn. I wonder how many people care enough to make that effort?

Podcast audio (also available on iHeart radio, Stitcher, Apple podcasts, and Spotify: https://www.buzzsprout.com/530563/4847678-kew-episode-16-who-tells-your-story.mp3?blob_id=19308149&download=true

Youtube video: https://youtu.be/1brbEKZHUxk