When we this phrase we automatically hear the rich, lustrous voice of Lawrence Fishburn in all of his mystique, with deliberate intention to turn the rusty gears of Neo’s mind. The Matrix in of itself was the greatest mindfuck mankind had ever been given, and we are still orgasiming over this movie almost 25 years later. The very philosophy of this movie had Born-Again Christians from my hometown in an end-times’ panic, and although I never was able to fully grapple the impact it was having on them…in hindsight…the site was glorious to behold. They could not handle the sheer impact this movie was having on their own psyche. To be forced to sit and question beliefs you have stood firm in for decades can be a traumatic experience. When you are 17, in love with the elder’s son, and wondering how you are going to get into college with a 2.9 GPA and a cumulative score of 17 on your ACT…you could care less that this movie was filled with a philosophy that would bear a significant mark on humanity, and continue to do so two plus decades later. The only thing this 17 year old cared about was gushing over Keanu Reeves and being amazed that he can say more than just, “Dude.” Despite the fact that we are now living in a world where old world beliefs have been challenged more than ever, and humanity has been at a crossroads for three decades, starting when the Berlin Wall crumbled and took the Soviet Union down with it, we have had to seriously evaluate what direction we should go in. If you really think about it, we are living in an incredible time in history because what we do as a country, individuals, and collective species will have a lasting impact for the next 20 generations to come. With mass and social media dominating our attention we are all participating in real time the brainstorming, experimentation, and actualization of the new beliefs that will ultimately define humanity in the 21st century.
In the United States, the individual takes precedence. This principle was established when our ancestors from England, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, etc left everything they knew behind, boarded ships, and struck out to stake their claim in the New World. Unfortunately, there were millions who came over against their will, and tragically paid an enormous price for the greed that accompanied this push for exploration and colonization. This was their chance to ultimately reinvent themselves, and in some cases move up the social ladder. Since then we have had three major waves of immigrants from Ireland and Germany, Eastern and Southern Europe, and finally Latin America, Asia, and once again Eastern Europe. Despite the factors that pushed them out of their homelands and pulled them into the U.S., the same opportunity was present: reinvention of the self, staking a claim, and making life better than the one that came before. That hope that the power to determine who we are as individuals regardless of where we came from or how bad our past was still remains in effect today, and it is one that I believe is part of the driving force behind this self-development trend that caught on like wildfire roughly ten years ago.
Ultimately, self-development is looking at the past and deciding that you will no longer be defined by your wounds, traumas, mistakes, and/or conditioning. There are various versions of self-development. There are those who make cosmetic changes in the name of self-development. These are the individuals who value the image over the gritty internal work. They go to the gym, change their diet, vomit monologues about responsibility and improving oneself all over social media, and are always quick to give unsolicited advice because they read the latest self-help book. Cosmetic self-development is an easy way to start. When the brain can visually recognize change, it is easier to get motivated to continue changes. The brain loves predictability and this is why it is so incredibly difficult to make even surface changes let alone deep internal changes which require a little more will power. However, those who focus merely on the image lose out on the internal process that is required to completely transform in order to truly be that better version of themselves. You can have the best body, hair, and job, but if you are still attracting women who use you as a tool, or men who discard you like a piece of trash…you still have a long way to go. Changing the image is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Now, anyone who has truly done the work, and is continuing their work will tell you that transformation is an inside-out job. Change from within and the image comes later. This is the second group of people who are developing. This is the quieter group of individuals and the messier group. Their lives look like a train wreck, no one thinks they are credible because they do not look as though they are doing the work, and their journeys are incredibly lonely. If they post anything on social media, the verbiage indicates they learned a very painful lesson. They do not rely on trendy quotes like the former group, and the level of pain experienced can be compared to feeling every single bone break in your body. Many who take this approach are often discouraged because they know they are learning deep and meaningful lessons, but because they are not the social media darling they are without a platform, and are often not as supported as those who have the image. It is a very frustrating journey sometimes, and it often requires an exceptional amount of willpower to focus on oneself and not allow the image-makers to distract them. Why do they look like such a mess? Why can’t they just wear a few gemstones, dread their hair, and rock the spiritual/Boho look? The answer is not as simple as I would like to make it. But in the most simple terms: They are in the abyss. The abyss can be equated to The Tower in Tarot. The Tower in Tarot is when everything falls apart, and it sends the individual into the Hermit phase of solitude. In an oceanic abyss, the pressure is so great at the bottom that the pressure would crush a human from the inside out. The spiritual abyss has the same effect. This is the part where no one can help you. Books, gemstones, mantras, positive affirmations, or even God himself can step in. You are on your own, and every toxic aspect of you rears its ugly head, and you have to face it head on. You get two choices, surrender to yourself or give up. If you choose to surrender to yourself then you begin to ascend slowly, life begins to change, you make healthier decisions, set healthy boundaries, and you begin to see your life bear the fruit you had been wanting to see.
Uhhhh….Rose….this sounds really scary! Yes….yes it is. It is a great test of courage, and because we are not alone…we are all equipped to succeed.
In my own journey, and those who I have observed, I have noticed that there is this frustration to become “perfect”. Unfortunately, there is a toxic wave of self-proclaimed experts who have invaded social media, most notably TikTok who are pushing this high-level movement. If you want to be high level, then you need to do this. If you want a high level partner, then you need to act like this…blah blah blah. These are the same individuals who will also push unconditional love and acceptance. If someone can tell me how you are supposed to love unconditionally while having conditions of your worth placed on you by those who have no understanding of your journey, please enlighten me. Until then, I will call BS on this. First of all, I am going to be bold and tell you that you are enough and in all of your brokenness and messiness, you are still the most lovable human being out there! Tie to me to stake and burn me like a brisket at Satan’s barbecue, I have gone and said it. Remember that question I asked in the beginning…what if I told you?
Well…what if I told you that even though, you are broken, bruised, battered, jobless, and have no direction in your life; you are still worth supportive friends, family, lovers, and love from Heaven. Love truly meets you in your mess, and in order for compassionate radical transformation to take place from within; radical unconditional acceptance is paramount. The unfortunate feature of U.S. individualism is this pathological idea that we can determine who is worthy of love based on the effort we have put into ourselves. There is no longer a learning curve for anyone and barely any opportunities for recourse. There is a difference between healthy boundary setting and being a dick, in the name of boundary setting. This self-development craze has the majority of those on the path truly believing they cannot have love, community, friends, marriage, etc until they have met the conditions set by the self-proclaimed experts. I am by no means an expert; I am merely an observer and have experienced the strengths and weaknesses of this movement. And I will be damned if someone who will never have to experience the consequences of my decisions about who I am tell me that I am not worth a healthy relationship because they do not perceive me to be at a certain level. The reality is that “high-level” people are generally single, or their relationships burn out because one partner is unable to keep up with the other. Perhaps if we change the lexicon, we would see more get on board with improving their lives.