Lesson learnt

I told the Plain Jack story today and told the parents that the story was for the children and it was up to them to work out the lesson. It might sound patronising when written down, but when I’m dressed in character and talking with families I am able to meet everyone with an absolutely unguarded eye to make a connection based on absolute equality. I’m aiming to invite the adults to listen with consideration and not just switch off and daydream while their children are being entertained.

I have seen many children’s entertainers and they often appeal to children’s need to join together with laughter and get giggly and excited and make jokes for the adults at the children’s expense with the children’s innocence protecting them from getting the joke and being hurt. I think that’s a cheap way to get a laugh and though it does seem to work from the outside – adults see children enjoying themselves and have a laugh too, it is shallow, pointless and quickly forgotten.

I used to find it hard performing to children and adults and I could only look at the children in the eye, I was a bit frightened of being judged I suppose. I think I thought that most adults understand and know more than me, so while I can meet a child’s eye with equality I am on my guard with adults. I’m not comfortable with making a joke out of the children, so I have found a different and dare I say (yes, I dare!) better way. I find it easier to hide behind a costume that exaggerates my features for little eyes and allows adults to accept me as a daft looking character instead of feeling threatened by me being a know all.

I know that deep in our hearts we are all children and if I am kind and make it clear that I won’t embarrass anyone I can get the adults united with their children to listen on an equal basis. That’s when the real magic happens. I do involve the adults, but I’ve found a way to do it that allows them to enjoy doing whatever I get them to do and feel proud of their efforts rather than feeling too proud to condescend themselves. Does that make sense?

So today’s moment of magic was in the first group telling the Plain Jack story and saying the last bit about the 2 horses, one with a great talent who didn’t use it and the one with a little talent who used it all. I almost got emotional, I may have even gulped – I could really feel the empathy energy flowing out from the listeners as they all obviously felt themselves to be like Plain Jack and proud of his lifetime of trying hard.

In the second session there were 2 men at the back who were listening so hard and openly it was truly beautiful. The sessions were free to the locality which is quite deprived. I felt as if they got the story, not just for themselves now, but also remembering how they must have been told such stories as a child and how that made them feel then and also feeling for their own children being told to be glad of their humble backgrounds as then all their achievements will be down to their own efforts.

That’s what all the best stories do, they reward goodness, effort and standing up for the oppressed and frown upon pride, anger, following the herd. We are all equal at the end of the day, we all have our own learning journeys to go on and we will make mistakes along the way, but it is what we learn from our failures that makes us the ultimate human we have it within us to be.

I continue to enjoy learning how to be better through my life and I am grateful for my upbringing and the path I have taken that I have the opportunity to feel that wonderful life changing empathy on an almost daily basis. Either in helping my daughters enjoy applying their knowledge, moments of group anticipation – I lead singing at playgroup and we sing this sleeping bunnies song and I can usually manage a moment of absolute silent anticipation while all the children wait to… WAKE UP BUNNIES!!! and hop about, and then in moments from when I’m storytelling and I can feel the audience have gone on a little journey with me and allowed their minds to be opened just a little bit.

From the outside I might appear to be a crazy lady entertaining kids as I can’t get a proper job, but on the inside I am deeply thoughtful about the change I hope to make to people’s perception of themselves which is the most rewarding reward I could ever imagine. I do believe there is only one right way to be, and I know that thought is controversial, but there truly is only one path for all of us. We can only follow our true, selfless empathetic path by always making decisions that factor in the consequences of our actions for everyone else and amending our actions if they hurt anyone. Modern society is geared up to value extrinsic reward, so we are encouraged to believe that any path we choose is right as that is our choice and we know best for us, but if we value our needs to be greater than the needs of others and we value money and status over empathy/unconditional love we will find ourselves on a path alright, but it might not be the best path to make us a better, more understanding empathetic being. It’s never too late to get back on the right path, not to please anyone else or win approval, just for yourself. If life is a competition (I don’t think it is, I think it’s a game you only win by sticking to the rules) then believing we are in competition with anyone but ourselves is a delusion.

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Tomorrow’s story – purely fictional, but it contains truth.

Plain Jack

 

Once there were 2 old mares in a field together, they each had a foal.

 

One mare had won a lot of races and thought a lot of herself. She spoilt her foal dreadfully, she told him how clever he was and how he would win a lot of races when he was older if he could get a jockey good enough for him. He was very valuable and called Fire of England.

 

The other mare was very plain and had won only one small race. Her foal was plain like her and called plain Jack. “You will have to work very hard if you are to be a winner, Plain Jack.” She told him sternly, “You don’t come from a family of great winners like Fire. All the same”, she said tartly “he’ll come to a bad end if he doesn’t behave himself.”

 

Jack remembered her words and when they went to the sales he behaved his very best. But he only fetched a small price. He was bought by a man called Bill who lived in the North.

But Fire, in spite of behaving disgracefully as he was too proud to settle for any of the buyers who wanted him, was sold for an enormous price to a very rich owner, and went to live in the best stable in England.

 

I will try very hard to make Bill pleased with me” thought Jack. A lad called Barney looked after him and his jockey was called Joe. They liked Plain Jack because he was so even tempered and tried hard. When he was ready to race, they took him to Yarmouth. To Jack’s surprise he found Fire was entered in the same race.

Fire was ridden by the best Jockey in England. Everyone admired him. But he was very naughty indeed and bucked his jockey off. The crowd booed and someone threw a rotten tomato.

But Plain Jack tried his hardest and came 5th out of 23 horses.

Bill, Joe and Barney were very pleased with him.

 

Every time Jack raced he tried his hardest ad the crowd liked him because he always tried his hardest. Barney read to Jack from the racing pages of the newspaper “Plain Jack is a great favourite with the racing public” But on the last page it said “Fire of England disappointment.” It said Fire was to be sold as he was no good.

Plain Jack did not see him again until he was sent to run a race at Epsom.

 

The racecourse was on the downs, and people were picnicking and playing cricket. Some children were riding along by the rails.

One of the horses was a very thin poor chestnut. When it saw Plain Jack going down to the start of the race it put up its head and whinnied. Jack got a great surprise, recognizing his old friend Fire.

Jack did not want to race, he wanted to stay with Fire. When the race started Jack hung back. Joe did not know what was wrong with him. Fire bucked his jockey off just like old times, jumped the rails and chased after the race. He ran like the wind.

Look at that thin old nag” everyone laughed “he’s the fastest of the lot”

But at the end Fire was caught and led away in disgrace.

 

Plain Jack had come last and Bill and Joe and Barney were very disappointed with him. It was the first bad race he had run.

They took him home, but Jack would not eat and stood with his head in the corner thinking of poor Fire.

He got very thin. Bill called the vet, but the vet could find nothing wrong with him.

I don’t understand it,” said Bill, “Ever since Epsom…” Barney had an idea. He told Joe to go to Epsom to find out about the thin chestnut horse who seemed to have upset Jack so. Joe searched all the riding stables and at last found Fire in a grotty shed with no food and no water. He was thinner than before and very miserable. Joe examined him carefully.

Why! You’re Fire of England – I recognize you! The day the Guv’nor bought Jack, you were sold for half a million pounds! But you’re not worth tuppence now”

 

Joe told Bill and Bill bought Fire from his nasty owner. Joe fetched Fire home. When he walked in the yard Jack put his head out of his box and whinnied with excitement.

Bill laughed “So that was the trouble! Put him in the box next to Jack, and get them each a good feed. I can use Fire for my hack.”

Barney brought 2 big feeds. Both horses ate up every oat – and wanted more!

 

So Fire of England came back into a racing stable and grew fat and happy again. Plain Jack went on running races, trying his hardest and never giving in, and the racing public loved him because he never let them down, except that one time.

When Fire and Jack got old and were retired, they were turned out together. They stood under the trees in the shade, swishing their tails – the horse with a great talent who never used it, and the horse with little talent who used it all.

(So who would you rather be? Which way would you like your children brought up? If you look back on your life until now have you behaved more like Fire or Jack? If you look to the future when you’re all alone and decrepit, will you still hold onto arrogant ideas of yourself? It’s never too late to change  Do animals really feel such deep empathy that they get ill when they know of the mistreatment of others? Humans are animals too.)

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Equality of the sexes

Physically there are obvious differences and to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist is perverse. We’ll put those to one side for now and just concentrate on the heart and mind.

Imagine if we could settle the argument once and for all?

Men and women are emotionally and mentally exactly equal.

How would we explain the different mindsets we experience?

Maybe it’s all about perception? 

We perceive there to be a difference so while as adults in our work lives we expect absolute gender equality. In our home lives boys are brought up to behave one way and girls are brought up to behave another. In our intimate adult relationships males stereotypically use ambivalence to commitment and children as a bargaining tool, while women use their feminine whiles and sex to bargain with.

But not all of us behave like that, only those of us who were brought up to behave like gender stereotypes. So if your partner has been taught these power rules and you haven’t you will either work out a way to get equality or you will end up depressed as you try to please the one with the power to make you happy by giving you what you want – commitment/children/sex.

While you are in the relationship your brain is fogged  as you try to please to the detriment of your true self and blame your partners sexist behaviour on yourself. Emotional abuse causes depression which causes more emotional abuse as the one with the power loses respect and interest in the depressed personality of their once witty, intelligent, reasonable partner.

Love isn’t just a feeling like anger, jealousy, pride. Love is a feeling like hunger or thirst, if it goes unmet we cannot concentrate or behave rationally.

The only way forward is to have a break and get counselling so the abusive partner realises their behaviour is wrong and the abused regains their joie de vivre and learns not to allow themselves to be bullied.

The only way forward is to accept love is unconditional and all humans are worthy of love and using love or denial of love (seen by women as commitment and men as sex) as a power tool is emotionally abusive and wrong.

The only way to live happily and well in life is to accept absolute equality in all relationships. That way nobody can bully you and you will never be bullied. You must not harden your heart to protect yourself, burying your feelings and living without emotion. Instead allow your heart to become fully mature and open as you accept bad behaviour exists, you have felt pain, but you don’t deserve it so can let it go and forgive.

The only way to be equal is to behave like a good human. Banish ideas that bad human behaviours are due to gender or due to you deserving the bad behaviour or justified because that’s how you were brought up.

Bad behaviours spring from a selfish heart – arrogance, pride, anger. (being selfish is a protective instinct to save our hearts from pain, but locking away your heart stops you understanding and forgiving whoever caused you pain) 

Good behaviours spring from a selfless (empathetic) heart – humility, patience, forgiveness. (being fully empathetic makes you immune to bullying or denial of love as you reflect the behaviour and wonder what is causing it rather than taking it personally – necessary for every parent)

It is usual for our brain chemistry to be at a level somewhere in between perfect selfishness and perfect selflessness, the aim of life is to remove all selfish desires and use empathy to protect yourself and understand others.

Men and women are equally able to behave badly and equally able to behave well. 

It all comes down to choice. (and chemistry, but we can control our own chemistry if we have faith in ourselves and absolute trust that everything will work out in the end)

I believe I can prove scientifically that men and women are mentally and emotionally equal. Results due 31st March. 

Fingers crossed…

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With power comes responsibility – why beliefs matter

(I wrote this for a competition for radio 2’s thought for the day – I didn’t win!)

Being Good

The other day I went into my eldest daughter’s school to tell stories of the Amazon for their topic. I had learned a few stories of spirits who live in the jungle who punish people if they cause harm to the trees, the animals or other people. I used a storyteller trick of leaving the punishment to the imagination so they actively used their own minds to come up with “The worst punishment you can possibly imagine”.

At the end the children were all gazing at me wide eyed, the energy and power I felt from so many children hanging off my every word made me feel tremendously responsible. They all wanted more detail about the spirits, especially what the punishment was, I reiterated that it was the worst punishment you can possibly imagine and one little girl mouthed “you die”. My next words needed to give them power over their fears. I made it clear that the spirits only punish those who do the wrong thing so we can be glad as that means they are looking out for us to make sure nobody harms us.(I could have scared them into being good by saying they’ll be fine so long as they never do the wrong thing, but I’m not a catholic)

 

From this I realised 2 very important things, firstly it is what we don’t say that has the most power and secondly, the way we feel about being judged depends if we believe ourselves to be good or bad.

 

We all try to be good as we are taught that being good will earn approval, but if those from whom we seek approval are silent, the power of the silence makes us try even harder to please to the detriment of our true self.

 

That is where faith and religion come in. We need to have faith that we are good and worthy of approval from the start, if we believe it, then it is so. Religions give us the rules to live by, if we break the rules we will be told so we can be forgiven and learn. It is our behaviour that we are judged on and it is our behaviour that we can always change to ensure we are always judged to be good.

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Environment and Equity

On the news tonight are the dreadful floods down South and a poor couple with disabiities possibly having to move house due to the bedroom tax.

What is the state doing about it? In a weird distracting way they are telling us to concentrate on the job in hand in order to avoid talking about their policies which are leading to disasters impacting more people and the gap between rich and poor widening. They say the devil is in the detail, I reckon they’re going to congratulate themselves once the environmental disaster has passed and continue to stick to policies that don’t account for the reality that everyone faces.

If policy makers opened their eyes to the reality of life in this country they might do a better job, but just like my vicar and the scientist in Kielder, they are allowing their vision to be clouded by their belief in their own good judgement and to hell with climate change and inequality.

If only they could accept the concept of a loving God to rule their hearts and minds they would have perfect empathy for the people suffering and therefore be shocked into action and they would be able to open their eyes to the reality of a wrathful God of creation who will punish our apathy and inaction. (Yes I know God is just a metaphor, I’m not an idiot, but why can’t we accept the metaphor if it means the government can feel empathy for humanity and fear of the uncontrollable, unpredictable environment?)

Short termism and the need to maintain popularity cause foolish decisions to be made.

Sacrifice popularity and get real. Shit happens, how we deal with it is what is important. Until we sacrifice our childish, immature beliefs of how good and clever we are as individuals, we will never be able to access the truth and logic we need to handle the shit as it happens and better still prepare ourselves and predict what we need to do to avoid the shit.

Thirst for knowledge is causing us to abandon our need to strive for perfection as humans. Empathy and understanding allow us to process information quickly and accurately, but nobody wants to feel too deeply or think too hard, so we just stay as we are and turn a blind eye to the inequality around us and the possibility of our mass consumption being the cause of climate change.

WAKE UP!!!!!!! I just want to shake everyone.

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Belief and science Vs Faith and Economics

At church today (yes, I do go even though I know and understand God differently to modern society, both christians and atheists) the vicar was going on about how he likes to go to Kielder Observatory and one of the scientists there said something like “I wouldn’t want to abuse my children by telling them lies” about christianity and the vicar said something like although he had a concept of the universe, it was his “belief” in God that made him special. Basically both men are stuck in their ways and their beliefs and have closed their minds to any alternative, both believing their judgement is somehow “better” than the other. I believe in equality, so for either to believe they are better than the other makes them both wrong in my book.

Anyway, creation is only one part of what God has supposedly done. In real life it makes no difference to me whether God made the world or magic or science. In truth, to me they are all about the same and ultimately I have to just accept the world is here and be glad to be in it.

So scientists are able to go off on one about how the world was created and priests can go off on one about the same, but what do I tell my children? If I believe it is important that I am all knowing I will tell them with confidence either God or the big bang. Either way I am the holder of knowledge and I can answer my child’s questions so they don’t need to keep annoying me by asking (damn their inquisitiveness!!). The truth is, to a 4 year old, the truth is less important than the ability to imagine the whole world and our insignificance within it. So to hell with the scientists and the priests, I’m a Mother and I want my children to have open inquiring minds so maybe I’ll say “I don’t know, what do you think?” or maybe I’ll tell them both theories and ask them which they like best? So long as their minds remain open to new learning and they can appreciate the beauty around them and lift their eyes up to the skies and imagine the vastness of the universe and be able to focus on the detail in each individual flower. It really doesn’t matter for now.

Then the vicar went on about a man telling him he followed the 10 commandments and the vicar looked at him and thought, “you liar” as in the 10 commandments it says you mustn’t get angry (I’ve just checked, it doesn’t, but lets allow the vicar to be right for the sake of argument). The vicar believes that everyone gets angry, so nobody can keep the commandments. But since my time in hospital I have been able to remove anger from my life. Anger comes to us when our pride is hurt or we are told we are wrong or we hear about injustice. It is possible to let go of anger and let in curiosity, forgiveness, understanding as a response instead of anger. If we all want to be good humans I can’t see anything wrong with striving to rid ourselves of anger. I get irritated and annoyed every day, but when I do I tend to speak it out e.g. why are these shoes here, put them away in the cupboard, or what is this dreadful mess? Gargh!!! I don’t get angry and I can let my feelings out so I don’t build up resentment.

So at the end of church I told the vicar his sermon was wrong and that he might think he knows God, but I think he lacks understanding. I explained why and he said “don’t tell me you don’t get angry” and I said, well not really and I do try not to let things make me angry, that’s the thing about filling your heart up with love (like Jesus says), it’s hard to feel anger when you love everything, so I said again that I thought he was wrong to think the man a liar. This got the vicar really angry!!! And he said “I’ll pray for you (with pointing finger) it sounds like you need it!!” 

I couldn’t help but think he proved my point! He is judging others by his own failings. That isn’t what a good human should do. We should be aware of our failings and strive to increase our empathy and understanding so we can be as good as we possibly can be. The vicar seemed to think it didn’t matter how he lived his life, so long as he believed in God. That is just stupid and arrogant. He even said that he knew atheists who lived better than him, but it was his belief that was important. Absolutely wrong.

How we live is important, not just for ourselves, but for others – God is also an economist. We mustn’t live selfishly as it has an impact on other humans in a world of finite resources. Believing that we can be as greedy as we like because science will find the answer is as stupid and arrogant as the vicar. We need to have faith that if we do our bit to be good and frugal, others will do the same, otherwise if we believe others will be greedy, it might make us want to grab and snatch as much as we can for the sake of our children if not for us.

So to hell with scientists and priests, they’re as bad as one another. Humanity needs to have faith in itself, or an empathetic God of economics. Without faith all hope is lost, without economics to help us understand why behaving well is good for all we have lost sight of the cooperative animals at the centre of our being. That’s God that is. We are God of our own lives, but it takes a lifetime to understand and truly know our internal judgement system. Animals know themselves better than we do. Why do you think Jesus made the story of his birth take place in a stable among the beasts? Society had got a bit up itself then too.

 

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Behaviour Vs Personality

From childhood we have all been taught how to behave. I always thought everyone was taught the same as me, but I have recently learnt that there are 2 totally different ways (more than 2 I know, but at their extreme ends there are 2 key schools of thought) of managing children’s behaviour which lead to personalities either flourishing or being suppressed.

We all want to think of ourselves as rational and reasonable, but we all know that when it comes to family relationships we can all be irrational and unreasonable at times.

Being rational is about being fair – making choices that are good for us and don’t harm others. Being rational or not is controlled by our heart – the right side of our brain, it is about what feels right or wrong. My Pareto Criterion rule comes into play to help us make rational choices. We all know that feeling from childhood – “It’s not fair!” Do we believe that because we are being selfish? Or are our true selves being disregarded or not considered? There is a difference between having hurt feelings because we are proud, and hurt feelings because we are being emotionally abused – having our personalities suppressed.

Being reasonable is about having a reason to back up our choices. It is controlled by our left side of the brain, our logic, our mind, our knowledge of what is acceptable. It is about understanding why a choice makes sense. We know what it is like when it appears nobody understands us, or we are being told what to do by somebody without choice and we disagree with what we are being told. When someone is telling us how we should be or what we should do based on their knowledge without taking into account or even dismissing our knowledge of ourselves. My prisoners dilemma rule comes into play here – it is all about trust and responsibility. We need to be given trust and responsibility that we know what is good for us while taking advice on board.

I was brought up to trust my feelings and to know my own mind. There are loads of crossings over between feelings and thoughts and different connections in the brain, but I think it helps to think of our heart controlling our feelings and our mind controlling our thoughts.

I have worked out that the way I was brought up was the right way.

Yes, I am actually going to make that claim! I know we all want to say “Everybody’s different and what works for you…” but the truth is, there are wrong and right ways of going about things and I know we don’t want to burden parents with more guilt, but guilt is there for a reason. In fact, we will feel more or less guilty depending on how we were brought up. The trick is to bring up children who are true to themselves and understand what is them and what is just bad behaviour. We actually have to draw a line under ourselves and learn the right way, even if it is at odds with how we were brought up. Learning the right way can help us to make sense of how we were brought up and help us let go of negative feelings and negative rules that our family lives by, but don’t really make sense.

Actually guilt and shame play a massive part in the way children are brought up and in the way we see ourselves. Shame is negative as it is about feeling bad about something that can’t be changed, guilt is good as it allows us to make choices or changes that won’t harm others or ourselves. Let go of shame, allow guilt to ensure your choices don’t cause harm. If someone can make you feel ashamed of something you cannot change they can control how you see yourself and manipulate your decisions.

When it comes to behaviour, most parents know that children will only do what they want to do, rather than what the parent wants them to do. So how do you get children to want to do the right thing? In other words, make rational choices.

If you use treats or threats, you will get compliant children, but how will they ever learn what they really want in life – other than external reward and avoiding punishment? 

The only way to help children learn how to make good choices is to point out the true consequences of their actions e.g.Would you like to fall off the sofa? Then you need to stop jumping on it. Do you want to be tired and grumpy all day tomorrow? Then you need to settle down to sleep now. 

So, bringing up rational individuals is about helping them use their own conscience to guide their choices. Encouraging them to consider the consequences of their actions and use their empathy and imagination to want to do the right thing for themselves and the common good. If you allow children to choose for themselves, inevitably they will sometimes choose to do the wrong thing, that is OK, how will they ever learn if they are afraid of failure or we don’t allow them to take responsibility of their actions? Making children feel ashamed when they make a mistake or do the wrong thing is bad. Pointing out the negative consequence so they can learn not to do it again is good. Telling them they are being naughty, when they are just learning how to behave doesn’t do any good. Asking why a child did the wrong thing and pointing out how to put it right is helpful. Life is all about learning, we cannot expect children to know how to behave if we don’t teach them.

At the extreme end of teaching rational behaviour we get parents so afraid their child will always do wrong that they control their child’s behaviour at all times with treats, threats and removal of or large displays of love. It means the child doesn’t develop their own conscience to guide their choices, they always aim to please authority and never learn how to please themselves. Their true personality becomes suppressed. 

How do we teach children to be reasonable? It helps if we are reasonable. Being reasonable is about putting feelings to one side and working out the right choice based on knowledge and information.

If as parents we are more interested in bringing up well mannered children who do the right thing according to what society says is right given their gender, culture, fashion etc we are putting our feelings in the way of being reasonable. We might allow negative behaviours to go unchecked if society doesn’t understand the way children should behave and allows children to behave badly depending upon their status/gender/culture etc. 

How should children behave? Like themselves, but with negative behaviours and feelings contained.

This is when people get really irate – we want our children to be themselves, we mustn’t dictate what is right or wrong behaviour. Yes we must. Humans are animals. Good, cooperative animals who developed in family groups and who haven’t changed biologically for millenia. Good behaviours are kindness, charity, modesty, humility, patience etc. Bad behaviours are arrogance, pride, anger, impatience, jealousy etc.

So when children behave in negative ways we should help them see that their behaviour is negative by pointing out the consequences and teaching by example how to behave the right way. Stories have always been good for teaching positive behaviours and showing the consequences of negative behaviours and showing that redemption is possible.

We all have a “dark side”, there are things that make us angry and pride filled and irritated and stop us seeing others point of view. But these are negative behaviours that we can learn to let go of so that we can be more reasonable. These behaviours are just that, behaviours, they are not our personality, they can stop us from being our true selves. If as adults we are more worried about being cool, saying the “right” thing at the expense of what we truly think, then we are behaving like teenagers at school, not wanting to stand out from the crowd. We are in danger of being manipulated in our views by authorities/peer pressure.

Unfortunately, “good” behaviours are often seen as female and “bad” behaviours typically male. That is a nonsense. We are all equal and all equally able to be good humans, but if we allow negative behaviours to dominate our being we suppress our true animal selves and become socially acceptable, but have trouble in family relationships.

In our current society women don’t choose to be “good” as they believe that is sexist and men are brought up by women who believe it is normal for boys to be “bad”. So we end up in a situation where it is the trend to behave in a “bad” way.

Deep down we are all there waiting to burst out and gain freedom to our true selves, but society is suppressing our desire to be “good” as we rate “bad” behaviours as the way to achieve success, money and status.

If only we knew the truth. 

It’s there inside us all.

Or maybe we don’t want to accept the truth as we will have to admit we sold part of our souls to fit in, get rich, look better, achieve more?

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