Published Jan 31, 10 AM
By Caroline van Kimmenade
The road to self-knowledge is full of charlatans. Below are five creepy characters that I have encountered on my own journey who have proven to be particularly disturbing.
The Terrorizing Therapist
The terrorizing therapist will tell you that all your life- and relationship issues go back to your relationship with your parents (true, but). The terrorizing therapist will also tell you that your life will be painful and shitty unless you pull your heart together and learn to full blast LOVE your parents.
Whether those parents are in any way loving and supportive themselves is apparently completely beside the point to the terrorizing therapist. Even if they beat you, sexually abused you, ignored you or constantly judged you until you felt like a complete low-life, love them you shall.
As enlightened as it may come across, this is really just a form of institutionalized self-blame. Now, on top of everything else, it’s all your fault because you’re not loving enough. This kind of threat blends perfectly with the widespread and deeply embedded religious assumption that we are all sinners in the first place.
The terrorizing therapist is a tyrant, encouraging his clients to smother their own truth in a thick Love-Sauce that might seem like it should be delicious, in theory, but sure doesn’t taste it.
The Anti-Anger Authoritarian
A shady “guru” who starts each class by blessing the room and asking everyone to hold hands. It’s all a big fantastic thing to be a part of—until someone gets angry. This is not allowed, you see.
The teachings of the anti-anger authoritarian can pretty much be summed up with two rules:
- Agreeing with the anti-anger authoritarian = Love
- Disagreeing with the anti-anger authoritarian demonstrates a lack of loving awareness on your part.
There is no space for creative disagreement in the anti-anger authoritarian’s classroom. The setup is not a research community that thrives on positive criticism. This, dear people, is the corner of the universe where ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN FIGURED OUT IN THEIR ENTIRETY ALREADY. Your job is simply to nod.
Now, most of us already have some very insidious anti-anger programming inside of us. Getting comfortable with our own anger and being discerning in understanding what that anger is telling us is a spiritual path of its own. But not if the anti-anger authoritarian can help it. The anti-anger authoritarian understands that honoring anger means honoring individual needs and boundaries. Therefore, in the anti-anger authoritarian’s understanding, allowing anger is basically an attack on group morale and the imperative of unity. Anger prevents brainwashing, so it must be washed out.
The anti-anger authoritarian embodies that inner critic that is already telling us be nice, be good. Faced with the anti-anger authoritarian, we need to decide for ourselves: will we continue to make ourselves wrong for having anger?
The Shady Smiley Sister
We all know them, those ever-too-bright types. When you look closer, the brightness seems off somehow. These people have gotten so good at “fake it until you make it” that they have actually become fake. The initially pure-of-heart smiley sister tries so hard to make all the magic ponies come to life. It’s hard to see who is really under that fake mask of eternal happiness.
In many ways, the shady smiley sister is the personification of the Hollywood dream. The more she is revered, the more she will be able to justify her stance and take others down with her. The shady smiley sister appeals to the part of us that just wants to feel good. She makes it all seem so easy and enchanting. She is—implicitly—confronting us with a choice: get real (and leave!) or pretend you’ve “arrived” and glue on your happy face.
The Childlike Channeler
The childlike channeler lives by the motto “It’s true because daddy/mommy says so.” Except, “daddy” or “mommy” is now an ascended master who nobody bothered to run a background check on. This master announced itself to the childlike channeler with a big “Om, blessings to you, dear child” and the childlike channeler was all ears (and tears), like a kid listening to a bedtime story. “Please don’t think for yourself” types will follow these bedtime stories to the letter. Finally, someone who is telling them what to do! Finally, someone who can givethem some clarity! For those who don’t want to get their own two feet wet, the childlike channeler is a dream come true.
Childlike channelers carry an extreme feel-good message that revolves around their core belief: “I am a child of the light, and all is taken care of”… regardless of whether this is actually true or not. This leads to a “hanging back” to allow the universe to fix their problems and resolve their issues rather than taking good old fashioned charge of their lives. These kids struggle with the same issues for years and years, because they keep swallowing the feel-good lies that stop them from making needed changes in their lives. Of course, some feel-good confirmation can be good at the right time, but childlike channelers live in a perpetual floating state of mind and over-identify with the “spiritual” side of things until they lose touch with the practical reality we all live in; they are not critical thinkers. Simplistic, charming, and naïve, the childlike channeler believes that being “spiritual” is the ultimate solution to the uncertainty and fear that comes with finding our own way.
The Fake Zenmaster
The fake zenmaster believes that proclaiming to be enlightened is the same as actually being enlightened (whatever enlightenment is, anyway). The fake zenmaster prides himself on “not thinking.” In reality, his mind is swarming with one particular thought that masks all the other ones: “I am so good at not thinking.” It’s a lot like those anti-odor contraptions that you plug into a socket. They’re advertised as “removing smells” when, in fact, they’re just wrapping the smell in a sickly sweet aroma.
Spend enough time with a fake zenmaster and you’ll start to notice something fishy. You’ll start to get an inkling of the huge amounts energy they are constantly expending on suppressing his true state of mind. The emptiness that you at first mistakenly interpret as peace is intended to mask the muddle underneath—like one of those panoramic backdrops they use in the movies to suggest space that isn’t there.
The fake zenmaster has a lot of new-age fodder on his side and plenty of impressive quotes to adorn himself with. When we believe him, we trick ourselves into thinking that our messy road to full self-acceptance is too far off the beaten track to succeed.
It’s important to acknowledge the ways in which these 5 kinds of creepy new age characters tap into our own unexamined wounds and silver-bullet dreams. There are no shortcuts to a real and satisfying life. More often than not, promised shortcuts provide endless detours in which the hopes and aspirations of those who got lost along the way are being used to feed the ego’s of those who have figured out how to appear like masters.
These are times of massively hyped bling, little patience, and an expectation of instant success. Taking it slow and finding your own way may well make you the black sheep of many established circles. But the proof is in the pudding, and you need to find your own flavor.
About Caroline van Kimmenade
Caroline van Kimmenade is a Happy Sensitive Person who writes about being sensitive (HSP / empath) over on TheHappySensive.com She describes deep happiness as that underlying sense of empowerment that you feel when you know that you have the inner tools to make things work in your life – even if it may take much longer than you’d prefer and you get some cuts and bruises along the way. She has several alter ego’s that tweet as IDSensitivity on twitter ( twitter.com/IDSensitivity ) and is currently busy making non-stinky Facebook posters for her page: www.facebook.com/thehappysensitive