because when a person doesn't seem uptight, they are perceived to be an easier target.
I've seen some truth in this, at least given the circumstances of the town I have been living in.
I've been burned and am still struggling with after effects. In fairness, I was affected by some stuff in my family of origin that 'primed the pump' for my later involvement in a cultic relationship.
Where I live, there is a high density of people who are 'on the make.' First, there are a lot of off beat groups that tend to prosyletize. Not all are cults. But their members, good hearted as they are, find it necessary to recruit. They're not content to just enjoy what they have found.
There are also a lot of people on the make for other things.
So we have panhandlers for drug and alcohol funds, panhandlers for political ideologies, panhandlers for churches, panhandlers for gurus.
Its much more subtle when the panhandling is done slowly and gradually via what seem like genuine friendships or in a workplace, but that too can reveal a panhandling set up.
The upshot is, in some parts of town, especially where tourists come through, it is nearly impossible to stop, stand still and just contemplate a scene without someone coming over and trying to get something.
One lovely morning, I stopped to enjoy some flowers that someone had generously planted in a front yard.
A sweet young girl came over, we both looked at the multicolored display of blossoms, then she said, 'You seem like a very open person. Do you believe in Jesus?'
I was already enjoying God's handiwork--no further words were necessary. It was all I could do to remain polite, but I had to make it clear I was already in tune with creation and didnt need any Bible chat or a church to go to.
In yet another instance, there's a Himalayan Tibetan themed event that takes place annually. Ive been there about 5 successive years and the Amma/hugging guru people always have a booth.
Each time I walked by, they'd look at me and other passersby with a kind of hungry gaze, like dogs hoping to get scraps from a butcher. One tried hard to ask me if I wanted to learn more about Amma.
'I am already taken care of' I said very firmly--and I kept walking. If you stand still, its much harder to escape.
Seemed to me if people were actually being fed and nurtured deeply by whatever spiritual project they're in, they wouldnt give out this sort of hungry vibe--and wouldnt have such a need to recruit.
Some time back, I went to visit Saint Paul, Minnesota. I went downtown
and discovered I was in a very different part of the world.
People looked me in the eye, said hello--and they did not want anything.
It took several days to adjust to the difference.
And Ive found I have to be a bit 'on guard'--and very often question when I am doing this appropriately, and when taking it to extremes that are not so good.
For example, when walking by myself after dark, I do not respond if someone asks what time it is. If someone really needs to know the time, they can glance inside and read the digital read out in our city bus shelters, glance into a window and look at a clock. So after dark, I maintain more interpersonal distance than during the day--especially when by myself.
I think the lesson here is that genuine, agenda-free human connection and especially intimacy, requires not just effort, but time, and like good cooking, it cannot be rushed.
So if someone seems to be pushing too hard and too fast to get to know you, you have a right to question what is going on, especially if at body level, you have a feeling of misgiving.
It is quite easy to confuse the mind.But body knowledge, especially the gut, is far more reliable.
*My first clue sometimes comes when I get a sense that a person's non personal vibe, or their verbal approach seems 'sticky'--like fly paper.
Some people tend to stand just a bit too close.
Anyone who tries to get you to feel ashamed of insisting on boundaries or tries to get you to feel shame or guilt, or that you have to prove something to them, or tries to make you feel a sense of urgency or off balance--be alert.
If someone is just plain pushy or rude, dont put up with it
Also...(this is subtle, but I think we have all 'been there') be alert if you are in a conversation and its going on too long. The kind of conversation where, you feel 'I want to end this and I am still here talking with this person despite not wanting to talk with this person.'
Get out. Last time I was in such a conversation, the person felt entitled to actually (we were total strangers) ask me how much rent I paid for my place, did I live there by myself or with someone else.
(It can be very suprising what some people feel entitled to ask about.)
I'd already had a feeling the conversation had gone on too long, and when the guy took this sort of intrusive line of questioning, I said, laughingly but very firmly, 'Hey that's really none of your business' --- and got out of there.
But this fellow was clumsy. Other people are way more slick.
Two, be very careful about making an important decision when off balance and vulnerable. This happens to all of us at one time or another--changing jobs, illness, tension at home.
Finally, and I learned this the hard way, do not assume that someone is
adult, 'has their shit together' and is more capable than you are, merely because they have a professional degree.
I knew someone who presented as highly capable, and I assumed the person had his/her act together because the person was a health care professional and had many more years of practice in the spiritual tradition I was in.
Turned out X's life was in utter chaos and by the time I figured this out, I was entangled and it took a long time and a lot of anguish to get free.
Never disown your gut instincts, even if they seem nutty. Best thing I heard was from a psychology professor who said, 'If you have survived to the age of 21, you have gut intelligence and its reliable. If you didnt have it
and it were not reliable, you'd not have survived to age 21.'
Dunno if any of this helps. Connecting with people in person is hard to re-learn after one has been through freaky experiences in disordered relationships, families, and dysfunctional spiritual/human potential projects.
And the sad fact is, there is a subsection of person who will read your open-ness to human connection as a sign to move in and try to get something from you. Now that so many folks are glued to lap tops, cell phones and iPods in public, those who dont go around as human fortresses
buffered by gadgets, stand out and may attract a special degree of attention.
Stay open to life, but respect your own integrity and dont permit yourself to be used.
A person who pays attention, who isnt hooked to an 'earworm' or hunched over on a cell phone is like a lovely and rare orchid.
Let people approach but in a human way, not to use you as an object. Being present to your life doesnt mean people are entitled entitled to see you as an object to be collected and added to some guru's menagerie.
Feel free to stay rooted and if necessary, walk away or stand your grouned, roots in the soil of your own true nature and set boundaries.
As in, 'I am already happy and dont need anything else.'
Final note, learned the very hard way:
If someone is very, very charming--dare to ask 'Why is so and so not content just to be human. Why is he or she putting out this kind of effort?'
Ive never regretted asking this question.
And when dealing with a charmer, its great fun to ask, privately, 'How would this person behave if told 'No'? And.. how might this person behave in private, toward his or her family--or subordinates?
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/23/2008 10:27PM by corboy.