Jun 9, 2015

Shadows Before Despair

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

A little birdie delivered some screenshots to me last night. Apparently, there was a little dustup on Teal Tribe. It was quelled pretty quickly. The unintentional instigator either quit or was banned in short order. (In the third screenshot, you can see the little grey check that indicates that this former triber has left the building.) So, what was the cause of this well-contained incident? Once again: the shadow work.

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I think it's very possible this person was new, not a veteran tealer, and may have been unaware that the resistance to teal's Spirituality 2.0 has been a sticking point for a long time. This cannot have gone over well. Not only were most of the tribers in the thread supportive of his desire to take a break, there was full-throated agreement from at least one other triber as to the discomfort caused by teal's videos. As I wrote in the noncast "What's the Point of 3?" teal's version of shadow work has been a frequent source of conflict. (Search the page for 2.0 to find the noncast in comments.)

And as I said then, I don't think teal's shadow work actually qualifies as shadow work.

Worse, she's giving "shadow work" a bad name. This is not shadow work. It's a witch hunt through the psyche to unearth trauma, real and imagined, for which people can find whole new reasons to blame their parents. Where I come from, that's just another form of shadow projection. To approach it as she has with her 2.0 is positively obsessional. Immersing people in perpetually "negative" emotional states is no better than endorsing constant "positive focus." Neither approach is supporting their simply being in the present moment.

So, I found it rather interesting that teal's response to this person's commentary was to suggest he avoid shadow workers, as if hers is in any way representative of shadow work writ large.

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Her comment seems a little churlish, but if she's bothered at all, she seems to be covering well. Blake, however, gives the lie.

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The cardinal error this former triber made was in thinking that teal's spiritual work is about anyone but teal. It's the job of all the members of her "tribe" to tiptoe across eggshells and make sure she's comfortable. I don't know where this person got the crazy idea that his healing process should be about him.

You would think that a spiritual teacher "on the world stage," with a new book out, and a documentary in the works, would grow a thicker skin. She talks a lot about her growing fame, but she doesn't seem to grasp that fame doesn't mean that everyone is going to love everything you do.

Worse, she doesn't get that even if you're a very gifted healer, your work is not going to click for everybody and your commitment should be to a person's healing, not the supremacy of your own methods. Take your ego out of it. It's called humility. But she's against that on principle.

Worst of all, she needled a person who'd just explained that he was in a delicate place, with no apparent support system, about facing demons she knows nothing about. If he'd just do all the things she says to do the way she says to do them, he'd be golden.

There are two major problems underscored by this exchange and neither of them are new. The first is teal's massive ego. Whatever she may be offering, in terms of free material, at the end of the day, teal's needs predominate. Whether it's her writing, videotaping, and instagram schedule taking precedence over scores of suicide threats, her bottomless need for adulation, or her total inability to take the slightest negative feedback without being "destroyed."

Her following is all about her. They're called "tealers," after all. Not much has changed since what I like to call her Malkovichian enlightenment. (Page search: Messiah) She may be surrounded by fans, but she only seems to see her own face looking back at her.

Within two hours of Blake's dog whistle, it was clear that the message was received loud and clear.

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A hundred comments of love and devotion later, is she undestroyed now?

I recently paged through the disclaimer on her website and found that it, too, is all about her. It's the strangest document of its kind I've ever seen. A disclaimer is generally a brief statement meant to ensure that you're in legal compliance, not making claims or promises that you can't legally make. Hers is paragraphs long, extremely grudging, and unbelievably self-referential. Her name is mentioned seven times.

For legal reasons, the information found on this website and any advice given by Teal Swan is not intended to replace the advice and treatment of a physician who specializes in the treatment of mental or physical disease.

. . .

As far as law is concerned, you should always consult with a health care practitioner before taking any dietary, nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or before beginning or stopping any therapy including starting or stopping any pharmaceutical drug. Because of this, the author, Teal Swan, is not intending to provide any medical advice or offer a substitute thereof, and makes no warranty whatsoever, whether expressed or implied, with respect to any advice, product, device or therapy. [all emphases added]

So, for legal reasons and as far as the law is concerned, teal won't be dispensing any medical advice she can't by law. Otherwise, she probably would... even though she takes zero responsibility for "errors," "inaccuracies," "omissions," "slights," or "any inconsistency."

The second, and frankly, larger problem underscored in the Teal Tribe exchange posted above is that her work can cause emotional disturbance. It doesn't need a disclaimer. It needs a warning label, something along the lines of "Don't try this at home."

Out of curiosity, I recently tried one of the "processes" offered on her site.

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Here we go!

Step 1

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Step 1: Rip the band-aid off of the most painful, unhealed wound.

Step 2

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By step 2, we're headlong into teal's one-size-fits-all assumption: It's all my parents' fault.

Step 3

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Step 3 offers whole new layers of unqualified assumption. Apparently, I'm trying to prove my parents – the obvious source of my fundamental suffering – wrong.

Step 4

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Step 4: Is this thing the tealbot has decided I'm doing working for me? Ummm....

Step 5

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Well actually, when I answered "no," I meant that this process wasn't working for me, but the response seemed odd to me. What if I'd answered "yes," I wondered. Step 4 asks for a yes or no answer, but step 5 assumes without caveat that you've answered in the the negative. Later, I tried the process again and answered yes instead of no. Here's what happened:

Steps 2-5: Take 2

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Okay, perhaps my responses confused the tealbot. I tried once more giving simple, unambiguous answers.

Steps 3-5: Take 3

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No matter how you answer these questions, the tealbot assumes you said "no," your life is not working.

Step 6

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Having decided for me that my life is not working, in step 6, the tealbot tells me why. Apparently, the problem is that I'm having my brain pretzeled by tealspeak.

Step 7

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Step 7: It's still definitely my parents' fault. One of them, maybe both.

Step 8

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By step 8, we've completely dispensed with any pretense that the examples are anything other than teal's autobiography. So, once again, the healing process offered is really all about teal.

Step 9

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In step 9, we learn that teal's parents have all sorts of opinions about her: she's mentally ill, she's unloveable, defective, dark... And none of it is true, I tells ya. None of it!!!

Step 10

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In step 10, I learn that my parents have behaved toward me... her... someone... in ways that are totally unjustifiable.

Step 11

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According to step 11, I'm definitely trying to justify their odious behavior. And the tealbot tells the Beeswaxes story that we've all heard a thousand times.

Step 12

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In step 12, the tealbot challenges me directly to stop justifying my parents' behavior, probably because they handed me off to an abuser and claimed I was a Beeswax changeling... oh, wait, that was the tealbot... or teal... or...

Step 13

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By step 13, the tealbot is really pressing me on my beliefs about my parents.

Step 14

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Step 14 would have me prove something... no decide something... about teal's dad... or... the living hell I'm... she's in... I don't know. It's very confusing.

Step 15

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By step 15, the tealbot has assessed enough about my delusions that my parents are good people to really start taking my inventory and setting me straight. It's quite the lecture. Tough. Love.

Step 16

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Step 16 would have me make up my mind about the whether or not it's worth it? What "it" is, I have no idea.

Step 17

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By step 17, I will freely admit that I've lost the plot.

Step 18

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Step 18: Not crazy!! Not crazy!!! Because reasons!

Oh good, a helpful summary:

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Well, I'm not mentally ill, so, that's a relief. I do, however, have horrible parents. Thank goodness I could finally admit that to myself. Their behavior! Well!

This is really just a trip around teal's psyche and it is a terrifying place.

I don't see how it could possibly function as a therapeutic tool. It's more like a push poll into despair. It begins and ends with fundamental assumptions that aren't negotiable: Your life is not working and your parents are the reason. There is literally no way to work through these steps and reach any other conclusion.

These same assumptions, and worse, permeate teal's work. There's no question that your parents screwed you up and left you, at the very least, "passively suicidal." The only question you have to answer is exactly how they did so. Now dwell on that until you figure it out. If you're in wretched, horrible pain, it's working.

1 comment:

  1. I can't post any pictures here.. but all I gotta say is summed up by this: http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/000/766/053/409.gif


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