Well, there's a new list for "Awakening Souls" and it mimics much of these lists in tone if not in words. Like those other lists, it attempts to make the reader feel special and part of a select group of people who are different and better than the rest of mankind.
I've always had a fascination for these lists and their explanations of the traits they list as being so special. I enjoy analyzing them and have been contemplating creating a counter list. First, I have to determine what what the list's purpose would be. Empowering people would be a good start. These lists do anything but that.
Let's go through the most recent one, shall we?
1) Being in public places is sometimes overwhelming.
There's more, of course, but this is just the gist. It goes on to say that the walls between the reader and others is dissolving, and so the reader isn't able to differentiate between themselves and others and will take on other people's emotions, particularly the negative ones. They advocate meditation, retreats, and chide the reader for their excess empathy.
This is the opening move in selling something to the reader. Subtle, but nonetheless present. Will they be selling books, classes on meditation, seminars, a clothing line for "awakened souls"? Only time will tell.
This trait is such a generalized one that it can apply to introverts and shy or timid people. It can also apply to people who want to belief they are sensitive. This is why some variant of it appears on every one of the New Age-type lists that seek to make money off the gullible.
2) We know things without having to intellectually figure them out.
This is also a rather common claim. It's actually a disguised insult that will make the reader more susceptible to the sales pitch that may be attached to this when the reader investigates deeper. This is written to appeal particularly to intelligent people who have not been well educated, who lack critical thinking skills but have heightened observation skills and a disorganized memory. This makes it easier for them to believe that they are making intuitive leaps of knowledge when their minds are actually making connections between bits of knowledge they may have forgotten they knew.
The reader is intelligent, just not a disciplined intelligence. This sort of erroneous flattery further opens the way to being conned. They will use this to convince the reader that s/he is precognitive, special.
3. Watching television or most of main stream media, including newspapers and many Hollywood movies is very distasteful to us.
While this is an indication of intelligence (ye ghods! Most intelligent people find TV and most of mainstream media to be distasteful and a waste of time), the author goes on to tie it in with sensitivity and empathy, and not the intellectual paucity of decent programming. It is basically an appeal to the reader, softening him/her up to better accept what they are pushing. And this is only the third of 21 traits. There will be a lot more softening up. This is one of the methods of neurolinguistic programming, to sway you over to their way of thinking. Even people with well regulated intellects could fall prey to this method. Bandler and Grinder explored this aspect of the manipulatory capabilities of NP. The original purpose of NP was to help people, but I've seen sales people trained in this to make better sales. These traits lists are no different. The people who generate them are selling something and they want you to buy it all.
4. Lying to us is nearly impossible.
The author carefully leads the reader into thinking this is a form of ESP and dismisses their observation skills and knowledge, or that this ability is also a trait of mothers, teachers, and others who observe and work with others. But by mentioning the most likely reason for people to be able to discern truth and emotions of others through observation, then implying to the reader that their ability is so much more, is part of the psychic abilities they are developing as an "awakening soul", the author is playing the reader. We'll see where this leads.
5. We may pick up symptoms of your cold, just like men who get morning sickness when their wives are pregnant.
Ah, now we are getting to a stronger form of manipulation. The author has gained the reader's trust through the previous statements, and is now free to plant suggestions in the reader's mind and to start to hint at what they will offer the reader - probably for pay. In this case, it would be grounding techniques. The author hasn't reached the actual pitch yet, they are still leading the reader on, but they've now laid the groundwork and mentioned a technique they can offer that would help the reader cope with being an "awakening soul".
6. We tend to root for the underdog, those without voices, those who have been beaten down by the matrix, etc.
Oh, well played! This is just the right time for an affirmation. And what better affirmation than to reassure the reader of their compassion, and to give a form to why people share things with them? The author doesn't tell you this is a common trait among civilized people, they make it seem as if it were extraordinary, special, and the reader is unique for having this trait.
7. If we don’t learn how to set proper boundaries, we can get tired easily from taking on other people’s emotions.
This one does double, perhaps triple, duty. It demonizes others, isolates the reader and makes them doubt their relationships - subtly - while urging vigilance. Then it implies the reader is too sensitive to set those boundaries on their own. This sets the reader up to rely on the author for guidance and assistance. It makes he reader weak.
This also redirects the reader's attention away from all the many other more empowering routes for the reader to acquire control of themselves: yoga, meditation, prayer, dance, running, tai chi, and even religions such as Buddhism, Wicca, and some sects of Christianity.
It is just as well played and wellplaced as #6. It also reinforces #1 and #5.
8. Unfortunately, sensitives or empaths often turn to drug abuse or alcohol to block some of their emotions and to ‘protect’ themselves from feeling the pain of others.
This one seems to make its way into so many New Age character trait lists and it is the biggest sign that the list is full of hooey, hokum, and pure shit. It reinforces #s 1, 5, and 7 while giving the reader an excuse for indulging him/herself. It tells them they are helpless to control an addiction.
It also subtly opens the reader to taking whatever potions the author plans to sell - vitamins, herbal supplements, special waters. It also caters to the weakness within the person and increases their dependency. Any character trait list that gives people a loophole for being addicted to anything is the biggest warning sign of a scam.
9. We are all becoming healers.
Oddly enough, they don't list any legitimate healing fields such as pharmacology, surgery, gastrointestinal medicine, primary care. No, what they list as healing are holistic medicine, herbs, and food as the path to healing, along with new age methods of reiki, and suggests that the reader turn away from traditional healing methods.
There is so much wrong here with this and by this point, the reader accepts it as inevitable and proper. They can't see just how badly this weakens them, opens them to being prey, and prepares them to open their pockets to whatever scams the author cares to perpetrate upon them.
I am an herbalist and I am an advocate for spiritual healing, but not for giving up traditional medicine. There is a place for traditional, spiritual, and alternative healing methods to work together instead of in an either/or opposition. Anyone who suggests abandoning a proven path of healing for unproven ones is unscrupulous. But then, we already knew this.
10. We see the possibilities before others do.
Another affirmation, one that puffs up the reader by comparing them to Copernicus and others who worked hard to envision the possibilities rather than intuit them. This plays into #2 and #4, and is particularly appealing to people who are intelligent but lack good critical thinking skills. There's much to be said for an excellent education. It encourages laziness intellectually because the author doesn't want the reader to gain acute critical thinking skills. They can't sell this tripe to people who understand logic, research, and analysis and are willing to ask questions.
We're halfway through, and by now the reader has nodded so many times, and told themselves "yes, this is so" that they've begun to really buy into this, to believe they are an "awakening soul" and they need guidance to finish the process and fully awaken.
Now, watch as the author hooks them in the rest of the way. They will do it with a series of flattering affirmations that sound marvelous on the surface but contain no true substance, then they'll offer a secret and special task only they, the "awakening souls" can do. By buying books and attending costly seminars and retreats and classes. Let's see, shall we?
11. We are creative. We sing, dance, paint, invent, or write. We have amazing imaginations.
Anyone can be creative, not just "awakening souls", but by now, the reader is convinced that they are creative because they are one of those "awakening souls", not because it is a normal condition for practically everyone. This is pure flattery, flattery the reader has now become highly susceptible to. The reader will look with eagerness on what other good things the author has to say about them, and will be more willing to pay to hear more.
12. We require more solitude than the average person.
What a perfect affirmation to make the reader feel special and to (again) subtly hint at the reader's need for retreats and meditations. Which the author will probably be offering for a nice fee. It's also a great way to isolate the reader from people who might break the growing enchantment and attachment the reader is forming with the author.
13. We might get bored easily, but we are really good at entertaining ourselves.
Shades of Walter Mitty! This is again a back-handed sort of affirmation. It makes the reader feel good because they can nod, "Yes, other people and events bore me, but I am vastly entertaining." Ultimately it helps set the reader up to feel they are special, superior, to others. It's another isolation ploy disguised as an affirmation. By this point, the reader is so open to what the author is suggesting. A few more nails to solidify the feelings and cement the reader to the author's expensive "gift".
14. We have a difficult time doing things we don’t want to do or don’t really enjoy.
Another affirmation to make the reader feel special. This one relates back to #8. While it makes the reader feel special, it also a back-handed insult as it goes on to tell the reader they aren't lazy, just discerning! It's clever - the reader is being called lazy while believing they are being told they are special and important, that they are too good to be responsible for all those little acts that connect them to their families and friends and society. It's a perfect affirmation to set the reader up for failure which they can remedy by taking the author's seminars and retreats. This one gives the reader an excuse to shirk their responsibilities while shelling out big bucks to be told how special they are, how superior, and how they were meant for greater things. Remembering to scoop the cat's litter box is such a drag when they could be saving the world! Never mind that saving the world starts with the little responsibilities like scooping the cat litter or remembering your child is buckled into the car seat in back and should be dropped off at day care.
Yeah, this is a terrible thing to tell gullible people desperate to belong.
15. We are obsessed with bringing the truth to light.
Like the previous trait, this one also reads as an affirmation. It's written as one. The problem with this is that when an undisciplined mind goes digging for the truth, they most often devolve into a witch hunt. They will follow false trails, and turn to the author to help them. It's a lot lie people trying to do science without applying the scientific method, which leads to lots of pseudo-science out there. It's why so many people believe cavemen rode dinosaurs while hunting. There's truth, and there's truthiness, and what the author is promoting is truthiness. It also gives the reader permission to be cruel and dismissive of facts and other people. Only the author, and therefor the reader, really knows what the Truth is.
16. We can’t keep track of time.
This relates back to #s 5, 7, 8, and 14 - an affirmation that is also an excuse for antisocial behavior that will lead the reader to failure, which will cause the reader to seek help from the author, most likely through books, seminars, retreats, classes, and other things. Of course, the author will expect the readers to be prompt and will penalize them in a number of ways both psychological and financial. But not yet, because the author is still working the reader.
17. We abhor routine.
And this is another affirmation that is an excuse for antisocial behavior and has the potential to lead to failure. It's in the same vein as #s 5, 7, 8, 14, and 16. One of the first things the author will do is create a routine for the reader to follow, and then offer counseling when the reader can't maintain that routine - for a fee, of course.
18. We often disagree with authority.
This is another affirmation that allows the reader to feel rebellious with permission. In reality, we all have issues with authority at times. As individuated corporeal beings, we have free will and sometimes we make bad choices - either as leaders or as followers. Unfortunately, this affirmation does not give the reader a route to becoming a leader, and prevents them from being a good follower. It is, like #s 5, 7, 8, 14, 16, and 17, a selling affirmation. There is no real substance to it, and it sets the reader up to experience difficulties in their life. Difficulties the author will attribute to the reader being an "awakening soul", and the author will be there to help the reader.
19. We will often be kind, but if you are egotistical or rude, we won’t spend much time with you or find an excuse to not hang out with people who are obsessed with themselves.
This one is written as an affirmation, but it is just plain mean. At this point, though, the reader just accepts it at face value. Parse it down, though. It makes the reader feel special, that their actions are kind and well-meant, but that other people will be egotistical and rude, therefore the reader will be justified in shunning them. After all, the reader is an "awakening soul" and they aren't. Great way to isolate the reader from society, by making others into at best a block to spiritual advancement and at worst into enemies.
20. We may be vegan or vegetarian because we can sense a certain energy of the food we eat.
This seems to be a standard in almost every trait list for practically every kind of New Age personality. They have a twist on it by making the claim that an "awakening soul" can taste and feel the difference between humanely and inhumanely killed animals. Yet they don't make the same claim for vegetables. Science is coming to the conclusion that plants communicate and can feel, and they are farmed under rather inhumane conditions - smothered in pesticides, brutally harvested. They should be advocating breathtarianism to "awakening souls".
And here is the final trait, the hook, the closer that will reel the reader in to something the author will want the reader to do.
21. We wear our own emotions on our sleeves and have a hard time ‘pretending’ to be happy if we aren’t. We avoid confrontation, But will quietly go about changing the world in ways you can’t even see.
This is a classic neurolinguistic programming format: two or three statements that sound true, followed by a suggestion the author wants the reader to follow, something that will inspire action. So, "we wear our hearts on our sleeves" (we are extremely sensitive flowers),"we avoid confrontation"(see how sensitive we are?), and then the closer - "we go quietly about changing the world in ways you can't even see" (and now the reader needs to know how to be a part of the cadre who invisibly changes the world).
After going through this list, the reader will feel they are unique, part of a special group of people, with a task to change the world from behind the scenes, guardians, people who will "awaken" (for why else are the "awakening"?). They now have an identity, and if the reader has an undisciplined but intelligent mind, a feeling of alienation, a recent loss of a loved one, or feelings of loneliness, these traits will read like some sort of salvation to them, a place they can call home and a group of people with whom they belong. They have been softened up and guided to think they need what the author is selling (in this case, books and yoga at the least).
The problem is that this list of traits in composed of affirmations woven between generalized statements and presented to encourage a suspension of critical thinking. It encourages the reader to engage in behaviors that will set the reader up for failure, then to turn to the author to fix things. And the author will be happy to attempt to do so by selling the reader books, classes, seminars, counseling sessions, and who knows what else. And none of it will ever actually help the reader.
The reader is set up to fail and fail and fail, so will try harder and harder to do whatever the author wants so they can succeed at being this "awakening soul", will do whatever it costs, whatever it takes.
Look, in this series of traits, the reader is told they are addictive, hypersensitive, easily bored, incapable of being responsible, on time, or commit to a routine. The reader is rebellious without a cause, judgmental, cruel, emotional, and too weak to function with the author's constant affirmations.
And yet, the reader is being told they are so special they are secretly manipulating the world to make it abetter place. Really? How? When the reader can't think clearly, can't take responsibility, be on time, lead or follow, be disciplined, or loving?
It's a scam. Even if the reader never buys the books and such, it will still encourage the reader to believe things that could be spiritually and personally harmful and societally damaging. It can alienate the reader even further.
I loathe these kinds of trait lists. I hated it when it was "Indigo Children" and that "Prosperity Gospel" and "The Secret" and the ones which taught "shamanism". There's a long history of these sorts of scams and people continue to buy into them.
There needs to be a counter list, one that empowers and encourages questioning and solid research and proper experimentation.
Just gotta figure out how to word it so it doesn't devolve into one o these crap trait lists.