Ham on anxiety and cardboard perfection
David G. Schlundt, Ph.D.
schlundg at ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Thu Oct 10 15:29:15 PDT 1996
Greetings, children and friends, I am Ham and I welcome you all
tonight. You are all welcome to my heart always and forever.
Tonight, I wish to address anxiety and your coping mechanisms with
it. Many feel anxious concerning the perception that others have of
them, especially specific people, often family members. Others have
anxiety concerning the perception of their peers and colleagues.
You all fear the worst, that another's perception will confirm your
own lowest conception of yourself, that you are somehow a failure.
This anxiety causes you to keep up a front towards these people, a
front of calm coolness, of having everything under control, a front
that says that you know exactly what you are doing and don't need
any help or advice, and especially don't need any concern or, heaven
forbid, pity. In this group, we encourage you to explore these
feelings, explore why they occur with the people that they occur
There is always in each person concerns that they would be
embarrassed for another person to see. Each person is concerned
with their status and their prestige in life, it is beyond what they
really deserve. Each person is concerned with defending that status
and level of prestige that their authority should not be breeched or
undermined. This is all natural human feeling and it is universal.
It is one of the things that makes true communication difficult, and
true team work difficult.
Life is very complex and it is built around a complex web of human
interaction. Business life is built around transactions that are
partly postures more than reality. Everyone has to pretend to be
expert and not sow doubts telling the truth at times if it is
warranted. Your society is so full of these behaviors that reality
is very blurred all the time in thousands of small ways and in order
to fit into this society requires countless bendings of the truth
and countless poses of authority that may not be entirely
comfortable. It is as though you all are so afraid of exposing
vulnerability that you are willing to sacrifice truth to that end.
This phenomenon is world wide and extends to national life as well.
This is intolerance.
You want perfection in all your dealings from the waitress that
brings your breakfast to the mechanic who fixes your car to your
political leadership, you want them all to be experts. You don't
want them to display any hint of not knowing or inefficiency. And
this intolerance stems from having to hold up this facade yourselves
all the time.
This societal intolerance and shading of the truth is a recipe for
ultimate disaster. Individually, it leads to heart attacks,
strokes, depression, mental illness, and so on. As nations, it
leads to intolerance of weakness of the unfortunate and between
nations it leads to armed conflicts as everyone wants to see their
side as white and the other side as black. You all want to be
assured of your rightness, your innocence, that you were certainly
right to lose your temper over the dry cleaner losing a shirt or
This society is taking a cardboard perfectionism to extremes. In
part, it is said to be due to the congestion of people, the masses
of people living in close proximity, that little things tend to
cause greater perturbations. But, I contend that it is the strain of
keeping up appearances, the strain of maintaining this cardboard
perfection in yourselves, that causes you to jump on others for
their slips because you are afraid of your slipping.
When we speak of tolerance as a fruit of the spirit, we are speaking
of it extending to your whole, entire life. We are speaking of you
tolerating yourself to the point that you can tolerate others and
tolerate others seeing your imperfections and it is this that
decreases anxiety. If you can allow others to see your faults, to
see your fears, then you can easily, very easily, tolerate seeing
fears in others and imperfections in others.
It takes some work to identify your anxieties and to counter act
these by openly expressing your true feelings. In some ways it is
a measure of your cultural maturity. You all remember going through
the adolescent phase where you answered every inquiry with "I'm
fine" and you remember all the anxiety that that was hiding.
Socially, this planet is still in its adolescence. Despite the
cultural and professional pressures to the contrary, for your own
spiritual growth you must learn to be more openly exposed. To say
at times, "I don't know", or just to express hope or fear or any
number of human emotions without the fear of falling into a black
whole that you will never fall out of again, this won't happen and
believe me you will feel better. Say, "I don't know but I am going
to try", or something like that.
You are all in places in your careers where this is very difficult,
but it is not impossible. It is the equivalent of letting down a
piece of cardboard, you will still be standing, you won't disappear.
Is this making sense to you?
Q: Yes, at first pass I find it easier to apply to business
situations than personal situation, but I suspect it does apply to
Ham: Especially being a parent tends to reinforce this role playing.
Because, for a child to see you weak or indecisive or frightened is
for some intolerable.
Q: It works with the child too, when the child learns to feel like
he or she has to put up a good front when they see weakness on the
part of the parent. This can make children feel anxiety.
Q: I found myself saying, "I am bad at accepting imperfection in
myself and better at accepting it in other people, and I wonder if I
am kidding myself in saying that?
Ham: It is usually the case that one is the reflection of the other.
So, if you are intolerant of allowing others to view your
imperfections then you are usually intolerant of other's to that
same degree. Deep within each person, there is a critic, and that
critic is pretty accurately cataloguing your imperfections. You can
take the critics job away by acknowledging and accepting your own
imperfect humanity. But, mostly humans fear the critic and he goes
on working for years before you can accept yourselves.
Q: This critic, is this the same imposter that we call the ego?
Ham: Yes, it is an aspect of that same identify creating entity.
Because mankind is a will creature, he can choose between reality
and unreality and there is aspects of both in every evolving
creature. There are always areas where the person sees reality
slightly skewed out of their ego needs. The ego is a mental
construction that is unreal itself. It is a way for the mind to
self-identify, to identify itself as separate from universal mind.
The truth is, however, that mind is not separable, it is one mind
originating in the third source and center. But, being material
creatures who are individually packaged personalities, the mind that
is utilized must adapt to that phenomenon and so the ego identity is
born. Spiritual growth and the process of becoming increasingly
spirit identified, entails the gradual relinquishing of ego
separation. Personality remains your unique connection with the
Father, but there is a gradual lessening of the ego mind
identification. This is a process extending on into Paradise. As
you know, Lucifer himself was not exempt from ego identification.
The ego says, "I am" or I am part of or I am partial, or anything of
the sort. Is this helping somewhat?
Q: Yes, so the fear beneath all this is the fear of loss of
Q: Of not being?
Q: So we become anxious because we are trying so hard to defend this
unreality, this ego identification of mind as self and the need then
to defend this self?
Q: And, denying this fear.
Ham: Yes, absolutely.
Q: So if we can get to a point where we become more accepting of how
things are and the things that happen instead of defending the idea
of who we think we should be, we would become less anxious?
Ham: Well put.
Q: Acceptance of partiality/
Ham: Acceptance of life.
Q: I Find that when I am involved with someone who is equally
perfectionistic that we get involved in trying to maintain our view
of being perfect and then when we aren't, we blame the other person
for making us imperfect. I find this harder than admitting to a
colleague that I cannot do something.
Q: Does this stem from childhood tapes, of being told we are no
Ham: That is where it starts, but it's not always unconscious or
repressed memories that trigger these things.
Q: Did you have any insights into when two intolerant perfectionists
Ham: Humor, humor will save many situations. Because, humor can make
you see the absurdity of the situation.
Q: And the kinship?
Q: The other patterns I see in myself is when someone threatens to
knock over my cardboard perfection, I get angry at them.
Q: It is like a validation of your inner condemnation of yourself.
And so, the antidote for this, is it to become as a little child, in
your own view of yourself?
Ham: Yes, that is one way to put it. You have to grow more tolerant
of others seeing your imperfections.
Q: It would also help to live more in the present moment and worry
less about future consequences.
Ham: Yes very much so. Questions?
Q: I would like to ask my usual question.
Ham: Jarad, don't be so in a hurry to assign people their roles in
your life. You are quick to make judgments and quick to blame. Try
to exercise great tolerance for yourself and others, allowing your
errors or mistakes to be simply your errors or mistakes. Try to
have more patience with other's failings and to be considerate and
understanding of other's desires.
Q: Anything for Rebecca?
Ham: Child, continue working and begin rough drafts and outlines for
this work. You should begin working on the introductory chapter now.
I will continue to guide your reading and help you focus your
energies in the directions necessary. We will speak together this
Q: I would appreciate any feedback or guidance you might have for
Ham: Do not always think in terms of fairness for yourself. There
are other more important issues at stake. The master sought to be
fair whit those around him, but never sought fairness for himself.
It is human to react to a perceived injustice whether it be to
secretly resent this or openly confront it. But sometimes, the
small issue of justice in a small particular situation can be
irrelevant to the overall greater picture. In relationships, if two
people are always contending for fairness over every little thing,
then they would be fighting all the time and the greater value of
the relationship is imperiled. Be generous and light hearted over
trifles. Is this helping.
Q: Yes, thank you.
Q: I would appreciate any advice you have for me tonight.
Ham: Son, you continue to do well. There are some burdens that you
have carried a little too long but that are now becoming easier for
you to set down. You too have little tolerance for your own
imperfections, and need to continue to open yourself up to others
and to yourself. Don't worry son, you are always loved and greatly
blessed from on high. Your difficulties and trials all have a
purpose. You are becoming stronger by being more flexible and more
tolerant. Do you understand what I am talking about?
Q: For the most part I do, but if you could elaborate any I would
Ham: You have a rigidity inside that is masked by show of being very
tolerant with others. But there is something within you that you are
very intolerant of and even refuse to acknowledge. I want to
prescribe an exercise for you, as has been prescribed for Jarad, to
once a day look into a mirror and address yourself saying "I forgive
you, and I love you". This will change some of your thinking. We
will discus it again later. Others of you, if you want to, do this
exercise also, it is good for you all.
Q: It doesn't hurt to do it more than once a day?
Ham: No. It just must be done with sincerity. Any other questions.
Q: The thing that you said I am not willing to acknowledge in
myself, is that something that is conscious to me or apparent to me.
Q: Is it something you can reveal to me,
Ham: Not at this time, the mirror exercise will help you
understand. It's a childhood situation. If there is nothing further,
I will depart for tonight and greet you again next week.
David G. Schlundt, Ph.D. (615)322-7800 Voice
Department of Psychology (615)343-8449 Fax
301 Wilson Hall
Nashville, TN 37240
email: schlundg at ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu
David G. Schlundt, Ph.D. (615)322-7800
Associate Professor of Psychology (615)343-8449 Fax
Vanderbilt University schlundg at ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu
301 Wilson Hall
Nashville, TN 37240
Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is
beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful,
according to the use to which it is put. - A Course in Miracles.
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