Monday, November 19, 2012

Benefit of Being Ignored

Reframing #2

You can reframe anything. If you want to know what reframing is, read the previous blog, Reframing #1.

Psychologists agree that children who are ignored develop some quirky tendencies. They can be antisocial, highly anxious with seemingly ordinary activities. Because of this constant strain they can be moodier, harder to understand. It can be harder for these people to communicate. They are less likely to have friends, likely to have lower self esteem, develop addictions, and in some ways be a little immature.

But I believe everything is as it should be. The universe does not make mistakes. When it makes a person and puts that person in a certain environment, there are good reasons. There will be obstacles to overcome no matter what they are.

As a child who was largely ignored, I can tell you, there are definitely benefits. I learned to think my own way. I didn't have anyone telling me the way things were, teaching me my opinions and identity. When I travel, I don't miss anyone. I can easily adapt to my environment because I never identified myself with my environment. With all the space and silence, I was able to identify myself with myself. I listened for what the voice of God sounds like in the chest. I feel sorry for kids who are dependent on their family, who when we go on class trips are clutching their pillows, bleeding into the phone, and crying. They lose the bliss of adventure.

Psychology also says that these antisocial types are more driven to perform. Perhaps it's because they associate their worth in their actions. We all know it's good to love yourself regardless. But if you want something done and done right, these performance-driven people are where to look. They are not distracted. They are focused. They keep that space around them that they grew up in. I'd much rather be writing amazing work that others can benefit from than nursing still.

Be grateful for the way that you are. There is a very specific purpose for it. I am not discouraging healing by any means. But some things cannot be changed. Your conditioning is very hard to change, though you can change your habits. Most of the way that you are was formed by the time you were three. So try to take advantage of it. What unique perspective do you have to offer? How may you  be of service?


Monday, November 12, 2012


I’m going to launch into a series of blogs on reframing. Reframing is a very valuable tool for keeping one’s self at ease and maintaining an open mind.

Reframing is finding a different perspective for any situation. When one has a negative perspective, it restores hope and motivation. When one has a positive perspective, it allows for greater empathy to consider that others may have a negative perspective about the same thing. So either way, reframing gives one the ability to have an elevated vantage point, which is comforting and humbling. 

It is hardly ever events in themselves which produce a reaction in humans. It is humans’ conclusions based on those events which produce the reaction. The act of someone yelling at you lasts for about ten seconds. That’s objective reality. The anger you feel afterward is because of the subjective conclusion drawn by you such as: “he yelled at me because I am stupid”, or, “he’s mean”, or, “I’m not safe.” Wonder if you could simply say to yourself, “that person raised his voice at me”? Period. It’s natural for humans to search for meaning because it helps us to decide how to handle situations and alerts us to areas we may need to change. However, extracting the meaning from a situation is a coping mechanism. This is non-judgmental awareness, something similar to meditation. This gets you through difficult moments that otherwise could rip your ability to persevere and love yourself to shreds.

With reframing, if someone cuts in front of you in traffic, instead of him being an insensitive incompetent jerk, he is possibly late to work, upset, distracted, old, going to the hospital, who knows. It doesn’t so much matter whether you’re right or wrong about your subjective conclusion. It matters more that you remain calm so that your health is optimal, your participation in your life more effective. Later, if you wish to deal with the emotions you feel, certainly do so. That’s very healthy. But don’t linger in them. Deal with them, consider another perspective, and try to move on.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Accepting Anxiety

Anxiety in itself is often crippling. I have found in dealing with my own that the goal is not to reduce the anxiety but to accept it. Acceptance ultimately leads to reduction, and I'll discuss why in a moment, but it is important to not be thinking about it going away. Welcoming it is the only way it can be soothed.

Anxiety about your own anxiety can make it worse. Often one judges his reasons for being anxious, as though the anxiety were not necessary, were not justified. Every phenomenon is always justified, it just may not lead to the highest good. If someone murders someone, he has his reasons. If you're anxious, you have yours. It is useful to analyze the cause of your anxiety without attaching subjective meaning to the cause. For example, say I'm anxious because I'm getting bad grades in college. I worry about my parents scolding me, teachers not liking me, fear my social and economical status will be jeopardized. These are of course  average concerns. No one wants to be ostracized for being human and making a "mistake." Here the goal is to not dwell on those fears though. Accept them as having the right to exist. Simply see them. If you need to label them in your mind so as to not get wrapped up in their implications, say something like "I have fear that I will be rejected by people I admire because I am getting bad grades." This is objective and helps you to move along, whereas a conclusion based on the objective facts such as "I'm no good. I don't deserve to exist" is merely your own opinion and will only prolong your suffering.

It's about reframing. It's not necessarily about getting better grades and so making your anxiety go away. There will always be something not quite right about your life and it's good training to learn how to accept this and function reasonably. And it's not necessarily about meditating your anxiety away because despite raves of meditation calming you (which it ultimately can do) meditation will first bring issues to the surface. The silence allows the hidden screams to be heard. If you meditate while anxious, most likely, the things you're anxious about will not diminish at first but actually come to the forefront of your brain. This is painful but good because then you can deal with them and move them on out.

Reframing: it's about changing your perspective on what's happening. It's about welcoming the process of life. Without your anxiety, you would either be unmotivated to change and would therefore drop out of school, or you wouldn't have the opportunity provided by its prompting to relinquish concerns for how other people view you, an asset that will assist you the rest of your life. Without the anxiety, you might never learn to forgive yourself, be gentler with yourself, defend yourself, consider yourself. What would motivate you to think deeper about cause and effect, our relationships to each other, our expectations of one another, your humanity?

If you think anxiety is bad and should not be in you, then it will not go away. You'll be anxious about your anxiety and your anxiety will be pissed that you're not accepting it and seeing its good intentions. It will be disappointed you haven't used its services offered. It will not go away until you learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why People are Assholes

And how you can safely interact with them!

The certain type of asshole gets respect. He's not snipping doggie's tales at the end of his day, not on a rampant violent streak, but he's mumbling negative comments constantly, giving people disapproving looks; you feel that to smile in his presence would be like asking Russia to bomb the U.S. You question your joy in his presence, ponder its validity in the face of what appears to be his knowing better. You ask yourself, If he asked me why I am smiling, what would I say? If you can't come up with a good answer, you figure you better not.

The thing not to do is hate these people. They have good reasons for being the way they are.  

Also, the thing not to do is pity them. They don't need pity. They are perfectly in control of their behavior. It's not up to you to show them any sort of light. They know it's there. If they want it they'll get it.

What you can do:

1. Be yourself. Don't hide your smiles. Don't smile when you're not happy just to annoy them. If an asshole asks you what you're so happy about, just say, "I just am." Joy, like any emotion,  does not need justification.

2. Consider the cause. An asshole is in short someone who is disappointed. In order to be disappointed you have to have standards and have had hope at one point. Therefore assholes are actually quite sensitive insightful people who have simply observed some harsh things and have accepted these harsh things as an almost constant influx. He has realized that life is disruptive and painful, realized that he probably won't get what he wants, and for sanity's purposes has therefore resigned to accepting the negative but commenting fiercely on it as his only way of still having an identity. His criticisms of others are objectively correct. He's honest. He's both respected and disliked for that because we all know white lies keep the love. Not saying things that are truthful but painful keeps the love. An asshole is someone who sacrifices guises for reality. Respecting the honesty of the asshole will help you to not take the asshole's disappointment behind the honesty as personally. Remember--in order to be disappointed you have to have standards. Standards are good.

3. As they are cutting everything down, assholes are looking for rays of light. Do your best. Be integral, but don't blow your own whistle, and the asshole will most likely leave you alone. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

What is a Mistake?

I have been reflecting a lot on "mistakes" and I am wondering what is classified as a mistake? There's a book I want to read: Adventures in the Margin of Error. I have a feeling it celebrates, or at least tolerates, failure. It's like I just need someone to say everything will be okay.

I usually do not regret anything I do, but something I did this past year negatively affected someone very close to me and it stings deeply. I had never really affected another person directly with my behavior. This is new for me and much more painful.

We all affect each other. It's hard to know sometimes if what we are doing is straying from the truth or if it is revealing it in unexpected ways. Sometimes "mistakes" produce an irreplaceable outcome for the better. And other times, of course, they merely create suffering. Even suffering, though, can be questioned for its usefulness. With this knowledge, I find myself questioning almost everything I do, yet trying to find the peaceful place of not second-guessing too much. How much monitoring is helpful? When does it become hurtful? I am aware of my face, my body, the tone of my voice, my words, my breath. I guess there is a price to pay for enlightenment even. Is this price the feeling of being isolated? I know we are all connected, but I also know there is a complete universe inside of me and I am responsible for its government.

Any thoughts to share? Mistakes you might think were helpful? Tips for letting things go?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Karma and The Marriage of Good and Evil

Okay. I was in the bathroom stall and someone dropped a 20 in the stall next to me. Once she opened the door I slid it into my stall and, of course, tucked it in my wallet. Now, many people might be thinking, Shame on you! But this comes back to my renewed perspective on "morality." I once gave a man 25 bucks plus a dream catcher worth about 20 just because he was drunk, a veteran, and I felt sorry for him. I knew he was going to blow the money on booze even though he professed to being hungry and homeless. I was in no position to judge. Suppose I "did the right thing" and told the stranger that she had dropped a 20. Her pleasure with me and God's pleasure with me would have heaped Heaven down on my head, right? Well, first of all, God never instructed me on what to do with found money and what do I owe this person? Who's to say this person didn't get the 20 the same way I did? Or who's to say I'm not helping fulfill her karmic debt for some other no-no she did and perhaps has not yet paid for? Who's to say this 20 wasn't my karmic reward for holding a door open for a person in a wheelchair for 20 minutes while she fumbled around with gizmos and gears last week at this same bathroom? I felt absolutely no guilt for taking the money and I do not expect what I spend it on to be cursed because my sense of right and wrong is personalized and intact. 

Furthermore, what's with this God is good thing? What is "good?" Flowers and harps? God is true, that's what He is. He is right, that's what he is. He is creator AND destroyer. The typical Christian view is that when we "destroy" our lives we are "sinning." Well, you need to die to be reborn, don't you? And you need to do this many times because life is a constant divorce and then marriage of the flesh and the spirit. You cannot deny either. You must let them work together. If they begin to fight, one must win, or both must truce. A one-sided coin is no good. God is dark and light. Murderer and giver of life. Seek the truth, not good or evil and "good" and "evil" will be at peace with one another.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Awareness + Desire = Change

There is a saying that those who know better but don't do better will suffer more consequences than those who don't know and therefore don't do.  I believe this is true.  It's challenging to do what you know should be done.  You often risk kicking up dust which can lead to more challenges than just keeping your mouth shut, feet planted, and letting the dust settle.  The more you know, the more responsibility you have to this knowledge.  It feels burdensome.  And it is.  But what's more burdensome is not doing what you know to do because then you'll suffer from this nagging internal voice and this dreadful feeling in your gut that you have let the world, other people, yourself, and God down.  Sheer awareness is not enough to motivate you to do.  Desire is the other needed ingredient.  How to harvest desire when it's really not there?  Think of the alternatives I've just described above (self-loathing, in short).  Doing what's best is rarely easy but can become easier with practice.  A favorite saying of mine, by Prince Sergei Volkonskiu, is "The difficult must become habit, habit easy, and the easy beautiful."  I have tried to revolve my life around this saying, failing many times to do so, but over time, I am definitely getting better. As the saying says, it's definitely getting easier. Now, as soon as I am aware of something that needs to be changed, I know it will be changed because I automatically desire now to do what I am aware needs to be done.  It's miserable to do what's necessary without the desire to.  Suffering comes this way from not appreciating, even if you know, its benefit. It is a gentle joy though to do what is both necessary and (therefore) desired by you.  Change happens quickly this way.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bad People Doing Good Things and Good People Doing Bad Things

Let's begin by placing both words good and bad in quotations. "Good." "Bad." This will help you to understand where I am coming from. Probably no one will read this anyway because I don't read other people's blogs (I know, sinner!) but there's enough people scrolling through random blogs on the internet, who knows?

Ever since youth people have made what to me is easy appear to be hard. In order to assimilate, I began to act as if those things were truly hard, suspecting perhaps I didn't "get it," wasn't "doing it right" otherwise. The added downside of this is that TRULY easy things for everyone I treated as hard too. My brain did not differentiate according to social customs. I had lost my identity. When I could have breezed through so many situations, out of some sense of guilt, so as to not make others feel bad about their lacking abilities, I pretended to struggle.

I did the same thing with morality. In order to understand where other people were coming from, I compromised my own inclinations. Morality is such a vague topic. It's pretty subjective, truly depending on the individual's motives, knowledge, abilities and whatnot. (This is why the quotations). I noticed people void of sincerity and sensitivity and good intentions doing acts conventionally viewed as good. I myself as a sincere sensitive good natured person was punished for doing "bad" acts such as running away and smoking cigarettes. How were those bad? They didn't hurt anyone. The church flier that "good" person left on a total stranger's door, haggling his different belief system, how is that good? How is doing what people tell you good and refusing to do what they tell you bad? Obviously if someone is telling you to murder someone, obeying authority is surely going to destroy your soul. So this schism developed and with it this incessant need to test boundaries, test morality and reality.

I first tested if conventionally viewed acts of badness could be administered from a good person who had no selfish motivation, who was simply curious. I wondered if the universal outcome would be altered depending upon the intent. I wondered if it was possible to go against one's own heart while knowing one is doing it. Without knowing the nature and consequences of "evil" I would never be able to put my faith in "good." Threats never worked for me. If you are motivating me to do good so that something bad doesn't happen and you seem like a total moron to me, I'm not going to take your words to heart. If you're screaming at your math class but going to church, I'm going to question everything.

I learned that if you do bad things as an experiment, you still suffer consequences, but because there is no malicious intent, only the simple intent of learning, the consequences are less severe. The Forces That Be as well as my fellow humans are more understanding. I also learned that, yes, it is possible to go against one's own heart. I saw desire in people motivating them to such an extent that they were unaware of it. The desire and their actions were one. This disturbed me. How is anyone going to see clearly if no one can separate the two? So I divided those within myself. For instance, I had a beautiful journal at fourteen bought with my own precious money from a quaint store with one-of-a-kind things. I spent several minutes admiring it on the floor, stroking its cover, opening it up, staring at its blank pages. I asked myself then, what dictates that just because I love this journal I will not harm it? I see people hurt those they love all the time. What dictates their behavior? I know I don't want to hurt this journal. I really want to keep it nice. Am I dictated by a law beyond my control as those other people seem to be unable to separate desire from action or can I overcome my own desire and act unaccordingly? I began miming bending the cover back, reviewing the process over and over. It was so surreal. I wondered if matter would wall itself off, protect itself. But it didn't. I snapped it back, in half, staring at what I had done, feeling sad. I threw the journal away the same day I bought it, never writing a word in it.

This was my first major lesson in departure, the first of many many more to come. The flipside of knowing how to depart from your own desire is that I can now depart from truly evil intents as well. I can depart from either good ones or bad ones. I'm a master of my own will. 

I have done some pretty "bad" things with no bad motivations whatsoever, trying to get people to understand it is not what we do, it is who we are. The bad person singing choir songs is still bad. The good person robbing a home is still good. The heart is the heart.

Feel free to disagree.