SPIRITUAL SOAP: Unfree People Create Unfree Places | Audio
Learn from an ex-leftist: changing your mind often requires changing your life.
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
This is the second audio episode in a new, recurring feature of my newsletter. Each audio episode comes with notes and reflection questions to help you turn the ideas into tangible, personal changes if you want to go further.
The text portion will be available for free subscribers, but audio is for paid subscribers only. Get a free month of my newsletter to kick off this new feature:
People who have known me for over 10 years have the most trouble understanding me today. I guess people don’t change much throughout life, because my changes cause confusion.
It’s easier for people to conceive of you as being how you’ve always been, whether that’s the you they met 10 years ago or the you they met 10 minutes ago.
One of the biggest perspective-shifting lessons I’ve learned in my life is how much our internal world influences our external world. We don’t think about how this plays out in society enough. We take people at face value and assume that what they say and believe was chosen entirely intellectually. I once believed in using censorship because I had intellectually considered the matter and developed my view based on the reasons I gave. That’s what I thought and that’s what most people would’ve thought.
But I don’t think that anymore.
There’s more poetry than logic behind the way we adopt our ideas. Our internal state dictates the ideas we gravitate toward. The censorship supporter censors herself first. The anti-capitalist is upset over their own economic insecurity first.
The ideas we reach for do more for us first than we claim they will do for others.
My life has been and remains a process of freeing myself from an endless list of self-inflicted restrictions. That process showed me how much of our cultural conflicts are driven by individual, internal conflicts. Until the authoritarian finds a new way to gain the control they lack over their life, you will fight to prevent them from controlling yours.
This audio episode is an exploration of how our internal needs dictate the actions and ideas that shape our external world and how to address those needs directly.
Unfree People Create Unfree Places (Preview):
Unfree People Create Unfree Places (Audio Outline):
My story: how having no control over my life made controlling the lives of others attractive.
Other people’s disagreement and conflicting information didn’t change my views—finding better ways to satisfy the needs those views were satisfying did.
When we look at the conflicts in our culture now, we should be asking what needs people are trying to satisfy with the views they hold.
There are two ways to address problems: top-down force or solving at the root. The former is more enticing because it seems like a quick fix and uses a primitive approach to conflict (aggression, domination). The latter is objectively better because it actually solves the problem in the longrun, teaches us about what caused the problem and why the solution works, and helps everyone instead of harming some people to help others—but it’s harder to do.
Constructive coping vs destructive coping mechanisms: the point of life is to survive, so almost everything we do is toward that end, either directly or indirectly. Destructive coping mechanisms are things that help us survive in the short-term, not the long-term.
We should see political views like censorship and anti-capitalism as destructive coping mechanisms that can be addressed with constructive coping mechanisms that help people solve the root problem.
My story: how my past anti-capitalist views were a destructive coping mechanism and what constructive coping mechanism rendered those views obsolete.
When we try to solve our individual and societal issues without addressing the root problem, it means we’re using top-down force on the problem and applying destructive coping mechanisms. This is why these “solutions” require harming some people to supposedly help others.
How do we apply this needs-based, root-solution strategy to society at large? Instead of intellectual arguments and emotional outrage about cultural conflicts, we need to be willing to identify and solve people’s problems.
Using a needs-based, root-solution strategy requires a major paradigm shift in how we view societal conflict and resolutions. There are obstacles to this approach that show us exactly what stage of growth our culture is stuck at. These obstacles are the core problems that make all our day-to-day conflicts harder to solve.
We can start using this root-solution strategy right now on an individual level. The next time you experience conflict, catch yourself and stop trying to “win” by forcing your solution or getting stuck in intellectual and emotional arguments that ignore the root of the problem. Bypass the bullshit and go straight to the root so you can identify the need that the other person is trying to satisfy with a destructive coping mechanism, then figure out what the root solution and constructive coping mechanism would be.
You’re not going to argue and shame other people into changing their views if those views are the only thing solving their problem. If you really want to change someone, figure out what need they’re satisfying through the belief/behavior you want to change. If you really want someone to do things your way, show them why your way solves their problem better than their way does. Help them.