This is easy to see when there are world-changing events. It’s much less easy to see in everyday life but isn’t the dynamic precisely the same? Aren’t I thoroughly immersed in the day-to-day social field and events that surround me?
Group cultures, even benign varieties, have a pervasive shaping quality. They tell us what’s possible to think and what’s not possible. They present themselves as unquestionable realities and we take our identities from them.
From inside them we’re like the genie inside a bottle, sleeping, not consciously aware that we’re in the bottle. We’re comfortable in our confinement.
Our hearts may know it’s possible to step outside but our minds immersed in the group culture say, “are you frigging crazy?” The reason that we listen to that voice, that we often don’t step outside, is that we fear being ostracized, excluded for our uniqueness. We’re afraid of not belonging in the group and of being excluded. “What if I show you what I really think and you don’t like it? What if you don’t like me? What then?”
There’s a tremendous pressure to stay within the leveling, equalizing chorus of the group and subtly suppress our unique self, the genie that’s surely there. Not so much suppress it as never allow ourselves to notice it in the first place.
To do so threatens our good place in the group. Noticing acts like an alarm and starts to shake the sleeping genie. And it’s initially alarming. It’s dangerous. We don’t see the pressure to continue sleeping. We keep the genie under wraps. Put the other way, we have little knowledge of the group as a subtle censoring thought form, that “bottles us up.”
When we don’t recognize the power of the group culture, the social field, then we’re thoroughly constrained by what that field permits and allows for us. When we do know and accept it, we have choices about what we do. We can decide to bravely and humorously be ourselves anyway. We can tickle the genie in the blind spot, wake her up.
My favorite place to work with all this is in a group culture, small groups of diverse people sitting with the incredible complexity of being us!
Bohmian Dialogue / Shared Mindfulness
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