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No Trouble = No Growth

December 21, 2017

No Trouble = No Growth

 

Why do we want no trouble? I don't know how extensive this is, but my experience has been largely shaped by this idea that life should be easy. What is easy? Where the stupid shit doesn't happen. Where we finally get our ducks in a row. Where we are finally at ease. Where these problems don't keep occurring.

 

Why is that a thing that it seems so many of us are aiming for? Where did this idea that life should be easy come from? Is it a product of the elite? Do they sell like an opiate for the masses? Reach for this, work for this, put everything you have into this and you will eventually get there.

 

Do we have an idea that rich people have no problems? I know "reality" shows aren't really reality, but if those shows tell the stories of those who have all their basic needs met and then some, millions of times over, their lives don't seem that great. Or reading any autobiography of anyone who wrote one, regardless of who they are, it seems that life is full of challenges, from the beginning to the end. We inherit a set of problems from our parents and it's downhill from there. Why resist these challenges so hard? Why aim so high as to not have any problems at all?

 

I don't think it's an irrational wish. But the pain that comes when each new challenge hits us, what's that about? Why the shame around it? Why do we think any of us should be spared?

 

I can only speak from my American upbringing since this is the only culture that I know and have experienced. I am not sure to what extent others experience this. I know that our media and our institutions push this idea that if we straighten up and fly right, our lives will be fundamentally better. And maybe for some of us that's the case. It's the resistance I'm poking at here. What is that about? It really is a mindset.

 

Vicktor Frankle was a psychiatrist who survived the holocaust. In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, he talked about how there were some good times in the camp. There were beautiful sunsets. The prisoners told amazingly funny jokes. They were surrounded by death every single day, but once the initial shock of their confinement wore off, they adapted. They were starving, infected with disease, and that continued for years. And yet, there were still moments of happiness. He wrote about how the mind can make situations unbearable or endurable. The people who were able to adapt were more likely to survive. But that was never a guarantee. Those who completely accepted their situation still died of dysentery or met death in some other way. Hardships cannot be compared, we all react how we react, but I wonder why is it that so many are in such pain in certain situations that are not actually life threatening. I am of course one of those people. I have never actually feared for my life, but the pain this life has caused, I may as well have acted like it.

 

When we resist the events that are happening while they are happening, the pain is greater than what it would be if we were able to accept what was happening. While in the midst of a shitty situation, when we wish it was not happening or happening differently, or feeling shame about it, like we had somehow caused it to happen exactly as it unfolds, that increases the pain we experience. When we wish for things to be fundamentally different than what they are, we cause ourselves pain. Why do that? What's the point? Is training people to react that way going to somehow keep them from making the mistakes that get them into those situations in the first place? Maybe. I don't know. But I do know that the majority of the choices I have made, none of them were with the intent to royally fuck myself over. And yet that has happened on more occasions than I care to count. Since I did NOT consciously intend that, why the pain? Why the blame? Why so much shame? Who wins in these situations? Our abusive parents? Our abusive culture? Unexplored masochism?

 

Why does growth have to come with pain? Why must we be challenged in ways that cause so much discomfort? Those who do not rise to challenges, who stay exactly where they are, they don't grow. They stay mean. They stay angry. They continue to abuse those around them. They stubbornly refuse to look at the pain they are in and the pain they are causing to those around them. When they resist feelings altogether, they stay exactly where they are. Compassion for others cannot grow if the person in question refuses to deal with the pain they are in. Their failure to see that keeps them exactly where they are. Pain can only motivate people to change if they're willing to admit that the pain is even there.

 

We are creatures that evolved nerve endings because they were useful as a means of protecting ourselves. If we do not feel something physically, we could die. I think our emotions evolved along similar lines. Emotions made us more likely to stick with each other and help each other. But we need to be able and willing to see those emotions for what they are and learn how to channel them effectively. If there is a willingness on your part to see yourself in a less than great light and not be destroyed by what you see, you have a chance. You can grow.

 

Mistakes don't have to be fatal.

 

Know you're loved.

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