January 11

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Our Sense of Freedom and Joy

By Greg Baer

January 11, 2019

Stress Management

When I was a child, every time I unplugged an electrical device–if either of my parents was in the room–I heard the words, "Don't pull it out by the cord." This meant that I had to reach down between the couch and the wall, for example, and firmly grasp the plug itself to pull it from the outlet, rather than taking the much easier course of simply jerking on the cord, which could be done several feet from the outlet.

At the time I did not enjoy being thus inconvenienced–or nagged–but the advice was sound. In those days, the metal wires of the cord were surrounded by a layer of paper and a layer of rubber, to prevent the wires from touching each other and from coming in contact with human users. At the plug, however, the insulation was stripped away, and the wires were wrapped around two metal screws, which fastened the wires to the metal plates of the plug.

This arrangement was mostly effective electrically–power flowed freely from the outlet, through the plug, and to the wire–but it was flawed mechanically. If you pulled too hard or repeatedly on the cord, the wires would either break or slip from their attachment to the screws at the plug. So, "Don't pull on the cord" was good advice.

Eventually, however, manufacturers became increasingly creative with the use of plastics and the molding of rubber compounds, so after they fastened the wires to the plug, they surrounded the joint with a solid block–poured or injected–of plastic or rubber, effectively turning the plug and the cord into a single unit. Now when you pull on an electrical cord, the plastic insulation you're touching is so firmly bound to the plug that it's very difficult to disrupt the underlying connection of wires. Probably as a form of immature rebellion, I routinely enjoy pulling plugs from the wall by jerking on the cord with an extra snap in my wrist. The instructions of the past–"Don't pull on the cord"–simply don't make sense today.

Emotionally speaking, we were taught many principles in the past that no longer make sense today, but we continue to be ruled by what we were once taught. As children we had to please the people in absolute authority over us–notably our parents–because the consequences of choosing otherwise were simply too terrible.

It was common, however, that these people demanded behaviors that selfishly benefited them and left us feeling empty and afraid. Most of us still comply with the commands of people who require us to please them, and often this compliance is entirely unnecessary and even results in a feeling of being imprisoned.

But we are no longer children. In many cases we can now pull on the cord without breaking anything. What once was wise is now painfully restrictive and even harmful.

Our sense of freedom and joy will increase as we examine our choices and learn whether they are actually beneficial or just repetitions of old patterns based on principles that are no longer true.

PCSD

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