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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about the bully memes that control our mind and how to use frameworks to break free from our current metanarrative.


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Charis Branson
Charis Branson is a Medical Qigong practitioner, professional massage therapist, speaker, author and thought leader. As an INFJ (Perspectives/Harmony in the Genius System) she understands many of the challenges that the Intuitives in the Personality Hacker community deal with. Charis is the Director of Operations for Personality Hacker.
Showing 11 comments
  • Nancy Lebovitz

    Thank you for the podcast– it’s given me a glimpse of what emotional freedom looks like.

    I’m not convinced that abusive behavior always has benevolent motives, but I do think everyone is trying to get through the day.

    To my mind (and I grant that my nerves are pretty raw on the subject), the idea of feeling free to chose between memes/reality tunnels felt good, and then the “we want you to be your best self” still sounded like “you aren’t good enough, we’ll supply the motivation”. As I said, though, I’ve got a serious hot button about feeling like I’m being taken charge of. I don’t have the foggiest whether this is something it’s important for you to be more careful about. You’re already more careful about it than most people.

    You might be interested in Marlene Winell’s work– she’s a therapist who specializes in the emotional effects of authoritarian religions. She grew up in a denomination which was emphatic about hell and the rapture, and this can cause PTSD, or something very like it.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Nancy, and the book recommendation. I looked it up and it looks interesting.

  • eddie freddie

    Good podcast but I didn’t like the way you anthropomorphized memes. I don’t think memes are “alive” which is the way they were continually described. I think they are driven by individual/cultural epistemologies or meta-narratives which are adopted to satisfy actual or perceived life conditions and become closely held at the level of identity. When the meme is threatened then identity is threatened.

    Also, you mentioned meta-narratives as being horizontal and relative but the Graves model implies that meta-narratives can be identified vertically [and expanded horizontally]. I think this reduction to horizontal relativity thinking is the problem with postmodernity and resultant lack of anything being ultimately true or real. Thinking is perhaps better served with a horizontal/vertical epistemology along the lines of Wilber integral model or Gabriel’s new realism philosophy.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Seeing metanarratives as horizontal (i.e. becoming ‘post-modern’) isn’t ideal because it’s not the acme of development. It is, however, how most people are currently experiencing Graves level 6 (for the most part) and it’s often the first time a person truly questions their reality tunnel. Once the level has been fully explored then a reevaluation of ‘horizontal meme’ thinking is not only a great idea, but one you can’t stop. From my limited experience, Level 7 generates a strong distaste for seeing all beliefs and paradigms as relatively equal.

      The world doesn’t punish you for staying in 4 and it actively rewards you for 5. Coaching people into Graves level 6 seems high leverage to me, even if the journey doesn’t stop there.

      I admit – I do see memes as ‘alive’ in the same way as viruses. I don’t ‘believe’ it to be true, but it’s been a super helpful way for me to understand how they develop, take over and maintain supremacy.


  • Karissa

    One of the most important narratives in my life at the moment is the idea of ‘Universal Truth’; not necessarily in the sense that there is a single, well defined, knowable, comprehensive, “Universal Truth” but more that, the Universe is Truth and there is truth we can find in seeking to understand the universe.

    It seems a bit contradictory to say that there is no single truth and then to say that the universe is truth, but it’s more about the idea that the word ‘universe’ (setting aside other theoretical concepts like multi-verse theory) is what we use to describe the whole expanse of what is real. While, this philosophy takes an undeniable ‘scientific’ lean for myself personally, it’s certainly not limited to the testable facts of the universe.

    Coming from the background I come from, I find comfort in being able to attribute the broad majesty and wonder of life to a single overarching concept, that doesn’t limit the majesty of the thing or the expansiveness of the concept I am attributing it to. So, some may a define my philosophy as a impersonal variation of monotheistic theology. However, there is a significant amount of freedom and coherency that this narrative gives to my life. I still believe in the idea of singular truth, but I don’t necessarily believe it may be gasp by people, at least in this life time. So, I have something to search for and strive for, while leaving myself open to the possibility of changing my paradyme as new evidence presents itself, without the feeling of guilt associated with potentially being on the ‘wrong side of the theological debate’.

    To wrap things up, I would say that the above describes my current life philosophy, at the same time, I have a very personal religious paradyme that I hold in conjunction with this philosophy. I am still not sure if holding a simultaneous life philosophy and life theology is unnecessary or contradictory (perhaps like running two anti-virus software at the same time) but it has helped me create a richer, multi-dimensional framework for my life. I am always willing to discuss things with people but I would like to see myself as an advocate for truth or more aptly, a truth seeker.

  • Joan

    Check out Benefit of the Doubt by Gregory Boyd. You might like it, tanks for the podcast

  • Annabel

    I was raised within a narcissistic family unit and while this is not what you are specifically addressing in the podcast, I recognise a lot of the behaviours described, e.g. shunning and invalidating. I ultimately felt compelled to leave my family because my world view no longer matched with theirs and they could not respect my difference and in fact engaged in acts of sabotage when I no longer conformed. It actually felt very similar to leaving a cult. Despite it being a very different situation, I recognise a lot of what Antonia said about her mother: that the stability of her world view was threatened by Antonia liberating herself and that her mother would go to any lengths to protect that stability, even if that meant driving her children away. It’s a hugely tragic situation and it takes a lot of guts and self-reliance to walk away, but I think that setting boundaries is often the healthy option in such situations. Sure, in prison you are fed and watered and have a roof over your head, but it’s still prison, whatever way you look at it.

    Wishing Antonia and all others struggling with a similar situation the strength to stay true to themselves.

  • Evelyn Baker

    Said in my best hippie voice “wow man, you just blew my mind man!” Lol. Great stuff. Now I get to compare it in my belief system. Anyway would like to comment more but I have to work right now. Mememadness! Btw ENFP here.

  • Fanny

    Thank’s for the podcast, it was super interesting! I really liked what you said about building narratives.

    I’ve always found it difficult to really embrace a community of any sort, even if I share the same values. I get this sense of there often being destructive group mentality, closed for discussion. That it is not okay to discuss issues from different perspectives, because people will become really upset about it if you do. Consensus is very quickly defined, and then the case is more or less closed. To me, this is being intellectually dishonest. Knowing where you stand does not make it impossible to think about things from other angels. But then, the story about who we are as a community is so strong that it’s difficult to sway from that in any way. This is of course to generalise a bit, but largely, this is the feeling I get from engaging with communities. I don’t like to feel this way, because it seems really nice to totally believe something to be true in your heart (which I of course do, but it’s always up for discussion and improvement), and to share it with others. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling off of me, and I think your podcast this week made me start thinking about why that is, so thank you!

    Greetings from Sweden.

  • caleb

    ive been bullied SO MUCH. thanks for the podcast. last night i was held at knife point and i realized how sad my life has been disregard that haha. but can you tell me why i score 1 percent extroverted 1 percent perceiving 1 percent feeling and 82 percent intuitive – shiva

  • Saskia

    Thanks for the podcast, very interesting and certainly gave me a lot of food for thought.
    One thing for me stood out, perhaps because I have thought about it before: I have real trouble with the Grave’s model as a system for understanding psychological/spiritual development. I can see where it comes from and how it might be applicable to cultures as a whole, but I can’t help feeling that it is a recipe for some people to think themselves superior over others.
    I have had an experience with this before – I joined an online community that I thought was going to be about typology, and once I got in there, they had something very similar to the Graves model as their stated raison detre (am I using that right?? haha). Pretty much straight away they started using it as a reason to bully people, so I left straight away. It was actually quite traumatic for an online community I wasn’t particularly enmeshed with.
    Anyway, I was distrustful of it before, and this experience only ingrained that more.
    I’m wondering if you can give me any alternative viewpoints on how to look at this?

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