|January 18. 2000
Recently I heard a presentation about the four horsemen a.k.a the
four qualities/traits of our own self annihilation. I think they are very
germane to each of us who come to this site, though the relevance may be
tempered by where we are on the road of: disengaging from our codependency
with the abused or abuser; our own self awareness; and our own goals and
One: entitlement. This rider is part of our 'rights' system. We are
entitled to a free lunch, good behavior, a loving partner etc. Who says?
We are NO more entitled to a good partner than we are a bad partner. We
get what we get and we can and often do choose to move away from what we
get. We can also influence what we get, but we have neither good nor bad
entitlements. To believe or live as if we do simply sets us up for
unrealistic expectations with slippery slopes.
Two: Resentment. This leads to revenge and a lack of forgiveness.
Simply put, you can tug on the rope of non forgiveness forever but it
accomplishes a pair of outcomes. You waste a lot of energy holding on that
would be better spent in living and exploring life elsewhere. You also are
stuck there forever unless you release it. Imagine in your mind a
weathered ol' guy with long gray hair, in his beard and on his head, still
doing a mantra, 'she done me wrong' long after his mate had passed away. I
think that image tells us how absurd, in the extreme, we look when though
fully justified with our righteous anger, we see anger as a state instead
of a verb of transition.
Three: Identity. Now this is one that is a tough one to imagine, a
self with a false identity. But how real is the face presented to the
world? How honest is that face that withholds anger or feigns enjoyment
while seething inside that my partner did not cook what I liked or I did
not bring her flowers on her first day of a new job? By staying stuck,
with the false face driven by the false identity (nice person, never makes
waves) am I not equally as out of place as the face of a clown in the
boardroom of a large corporation? False identity needs to go and the
inside person to grow if the mask of the clown, and all those it fools and
sets up for false interaction, is to be corrected.
Four: fixation and obsession. Oh but how I rob myself and others by
keeping focused on the small stuff like the guy who gave a finger when I
slowed for the amber light instead of sharing stories with a son on our
way to his school. How my vision is impaired when I allow myself to see so
little, even perhaps as I bathe in righteous indignation. Righteous fool
is the result.
So these four horsemen of our own self destruction pillage our lives -
when we let them. Maybe it is time, as the automobile replaced the horse,
to let my life and my walk in it, replace the horsemen of the apocalypse
and thereby avert a self constructed state of doom. Me thinks it is.
And, me thinks I fully agree
with Les' viewpoint, although I arrive at the same place from a different
perspective: cognitive psychology. (Who said, "All roads lead to
Translation: Each of the 4 horsemen represents a
set of underlying, irrational cognitive beliefs - beliefs which create
self-defeating and painful emotional reactions. Call them
"subconscious" beliefs, if you will; they are often just out of
awareness. Yet, each set of beliefs are statements that, without
question, are accepted as truths! Only when we examine
their premise, as the parables above do, can we see that they create
no-win situations. In accepting their premise, with or without our
awareness, we set ourselves up to experience unpleasant emotional
Apply each of the analogies to your own life. Be honest.
Are you adding to your misery by buying into a set of irrational, implicit
expectations? Once you learn to spot your stuff, you can exercise choice
over whether or not you want to participate in self-defeating
Les. Dr. Irene