(Written 21 November 2014)
Is there any heart?
Sometimes I get into these strange ways of thinking that are a bit hard to articulate, but I’ll do my best.
It resembles sort of a Been there, done that attitude. I just think, Oh, that’s easy. Pfft. I could do that no problem. But I don’t really need to, because who cares? It’s a sort of overgeneralization of things. It’s like I have everything all figured out.
For some reason I want to say that it’s the opposite of hopelessness, but taken to an extreme. It’s like hopelessness exists on the far end of a spectrum, hopefulness is towards the other end, but then right at the other end is something else. Then the spectrum curves inward to make a circle, and the two ends meet. What’s at that other end is what I’m feeling.
I will interject for a moment by saying that this type of emotional or intuitive writing, if I may call it that, is interesting to me but I’m not sure how well other people might understand it. Maybe it’s too journal-y. I’ll go with it for now.
It’s an attitude of oversimplification. It says something like, yeah Kim, you just type some words on a blog, type some words in some books, spout out all the crap on your mind in talks, and yeah, then you’ll make a lot of money and that’ll be it. It may sound laid back but there’s a subtle stuck feeling it creates. Sometimes/all the time my thinking degrades into this after I go to my part-time job—which, by the way, I always end up crying myself to sleep after.
So this attitude sounds confident but it’s not. It’s more or less anti-action. Usually the challenge I pose to it is, If all this stuff is so easy, why don’t you just do it? And then I wonder if there’s a point to any of it. What the Hell do I need to run a 20 minute 5K for, or even help people solve their problems? Again, those feelings of pointlessness are most potent after I do corporate work. Hm…
I don’t want my writing to sound so dismal because the purpose of it is to help people redirect their power to help, rather than sabotage, themselves. However, I think that laying my disempowering, maladaptive thought patterns on the table and dissecting them could help others to resolve theirs as well. We lead best by example, no?
A lot of the time I have more negative and persistent thoughts than I give myself credit for. A silly aspect of this type of thinking is that when it does come time to take action, I’m scared. Sometimes I feel my social skills drop back down to the age-15 level (meaning: 0/10). Highly typical is that I “don’t know how to race,” a mystical phenomenon that has plagued me, with some leeway, for the last 14 months (ooohoooo! I wonder what it could be!).
I like to think of an overall aversion to taking action as a sleep-orientation. This means that I don’t want to put myself out in the world- not just socially, but at all.
Don’t make me talk to people, don’t make me think, don’t even make me move. All I want is food, sleep, warmth, and maybe sex, although that takes a lot of conscious effort, so I’m comfy to be alone. Living turns into a chore to be abhorred, and the psht attitude comes to my unnoble defense.
What’s Going On Here?
How silly it all is. What am I hiding? That I’m afraid? I’m afraid of something, or somethings. It’s hard to imagine what else it might be.
Sure, ignoring fear can be good, but not when it turns you into self-righteous all-knowing sludge. I’d rather just admit that I’m scared and then face whatever it is courageously- both in action and in thought. This means that I make the moves- such as doing a speed workout- and also massage the thoughts and feelings by trying to figure out, for instance, what beliefs and conditionings may underlie them as well as the patterns they seem to take (e.g. when they occur- in response to what).
This beats the heck out of stagnant (and therefore degenerate) denial, which has proven itself to be one of my most powerful and persistent self-created enemies. Kidding yourself can be rather complex, but you don’t quite understand that until you realize that you’re doing exactly that. Then you can start to piece the puzzle together.
I’m wondering right now about that statement from Tolstoy, that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What if, likewise, positive thinking/internal states are all the same, but negativity manifests in ways unnumbered—differently for everyone, perhaps.
I even want to apply it to lifestyle to some degree. You know- people who work in personal development mostly all focus on purpose, lifestyle first (i.e. before work), financial independence, using courage to take action, being yourself, and living congruently.
I think this would be a good place to note that in my flailing-defenses I overintellectualize a lot of what I learn through the field of personal development. I think, yep, ya just throw in some purpose here, take some actions based on it, know that anything is possible and then anything becomes possible, and that’s it. Bang bang.
I also fall into the trap of seeing these things as an end, static-state, when really each is a lifelong process that you create as you see fit, and thus that you can change at any time. This change comes about for you to adapt to external circumstances or to serve some purpose of yours, such as personal growth. Lately I’ve just been creating misguided silliness is all.
Another pitfall of mine is that when I’m in this state of illogically overintellectualizing I overlook how fun and exciting and lively the process really is once you start taking action. Life truly is a blast, but somehow I shy away some (many?) times and turn it into something to be dreaded and drudged through. Maybe I answered this question earlier, but right now I’m not really understanding why or how this happens. I just don’t even get why I would do this to myself.
Again, I know I’ve probably answered this question countless times, but right now the true, deep understanding is not there. It’s like how I get that people get comfortable working at jobs they hate because it’s familiar and the whole shebang is dressed in a guise of security, but I don’t really grasp that concept. The bullet flies right past me.
It’s also like how I know that people eat junk food because it too is familiar (and habitualized) and it tastes delicious, but ya know, I just have no desire to eat candy and Cheetos. That crap just tastes damned nasty to me now, so I’m sorry, but I cannot truly 100% empathize with you on that one. I know what it’s like to be trapped in eating terrible food and I know that it sucks- especially when it causes you so much pain and it exhausts you- but I no longer have full understanding of the idea that junk food is good. It has been erased from my brain.
I will admit that sometimes when I’m desperate I think about reaching over for some crap- er, dessert- but it just about never happens, and when it does I am dismayed. The taste is terrible. And if I somehow do go through with consuming substantial amounts of something I know I’d rather not have, there is immense regret, because it just feels darn bad.
This is where I like to think that immediate gratification is a false idea. That too makes no sense to me. What is generally considered to be immediate gratification- doing drugs, eating bad food, checking facebook chronically- is suffering for me. I feel both numbed and dumbed down, less able to engage with my world. Where’s the part where I feel gratified?
Man, not much makes sense to cynics. But maybe this can help them to focus on the few things that do make sense to them, even if they don’t know what those are yet. Hm…
Moving Past Cynicism
A partial solution to my sleep-orientation which I practiced the other day (and is typical of personal development!) is gratitude. Recently I read an article by Steve Pavlina in which he said something along the lines of, “I know I should never dread work because it is an opportunity to put something into the world which has never existed before.” That is truly profound to me and helps me feel similarly.
Of course, it helps if the work you are doing makes sense to you. I suspect the cynical attitude comes about when you lose touch with purpose. Your understanding of your larger context for your life fizzles out for some reason; perhaps you have been spending much off your time outside this context (relatively).
To get past this cynicism come up with goals which truly resonate with you. This means that the mere act of setting these goals creates changes in you, such as heightened motivation. Even if you’re not sure how or when you’ll be able to start moving toward this goal the simple act of intention will better enable you to take action.
Typically, such powerful goals as these are big and tough to say “no” to. Remember from The Search for Meaning that goals are ideally derived from your larger context. That means these goals make sense to you intellectually and emotionally, and also in the bigger picture of your life.
Each of your goals is not separate and set haphazardly. Rather, each gets a boost from the others: the order in which you pursue your goals is only logical. Your life purpose is the superordinate goal—the overarching goal of all your goals. In the context of this purpose, your goals have synergy.
You don’t have to be able to articulate a life purpose for this to work. In fact, you have probably set goals and taken actions which align with your purpose already, even if only a few. Arguably everything you do is on purpose, but certainly you can better serve and focus on this purpose when you are aware of it.
However, don’t wait until you have some purpose statement to start setting goals. Rather, take action to find clarity. You can set a big goal which makes profound sense to you without understanding why it does. Moving toward it you may help you to find that “why.”
When you spend a lot of your time off-purpose your judgment is likely clouded, and it can be hard to come up with goals you really want. You’ve gotten too used to working half-heartedly toward goals you don’t care about.
Possibly the most effective thing you can do is to get out of this heartless environment—even if just temporarily. In this space of you taking time for yourself desire may arise from deep down. Follow it wherever it takes you—it might just be your ticket to bigger and better places.
Don’t pressure your desire to get you bigger and better things like fame and fortune, however. You probably do enough of that already. Your most powerful desires don’t need pressure. Instead of commanding and controlling them, just listen.
You need to really listen to your desires here. They might scare you. What you once met with “Why the hell would anyone ever do that?” may become your biggest goal and most powerful fantasy. Openness is absolutely necessary. You are bound to surprise yourself when you actually allow yourself to exist, rather than suppress yourself and squeeze yourself into a box as usual.
Maybe total escape isn’t viable for you, but surely you have small amounts of time for yourself. I wrote most of this article in between classes. I know in these moments you might be exhausted and downtrodden from grinding out work senselessly. I suspect this is how many Americans get attached to television: they feel so passive and worn out from owning up to the goals of others that staring at a screen follows logically from the work they do all day. It requires no effort, which is perfect because they have no effort left to give.
The best effort comes from a strong body, a sound mind, a ready heart, and a growing spirit. For many people the body is worn down, the mind degraded, the heart disappointed, and the spirit forgotten through their work. It is in this state that the passive cynic is created, who has no understanding of higher purpose or ambition. For him the world is small and senseless. Sleep sounds pretty wonderful most of the time, and it is agony when he cannot get it. He can never get enough sleep.
It likely would also help to educate yourself to move beyond cynicism. Learn about motivation and higher purpose, like you’re doing now. Start reading books relevant to your big scary goals. Expose yourself to inspiring and uplifting material, of which the underlying message is You can do it. Seeing the successes of others will help you to see that you can attain this success for yourself. In addition, educating yourself will help you understand how you can do so, even if you must decide on this (at least partially) for yourself.
Just don’t get a big head and think all this stuff happens in a flash. Life moves quick when you’re aligned with purpose, but it’s more exciting than it is easy. J
Understand that getting past cynicism isn’t a one-time deal—you can move in and out of it time and time again. I’d say odds are that you will.
However, it doesn’t have to be your primary state of being. As you come into more focused alignment with your purpose that attitude will take hold of you less often and for less time. In the face of a strong purpose which makes sense to you, cynicism is easily bounced off (picture yourself with rock solid abs here).
Purpose is the key to life’s treasures. Once you show the world that you are intent on getting what you want it has little need to fight a battle you can’t win anymore. You will still be met with resistance, but you will come across few problems you cannot solve.
Start to create your journey today and watch your doubts fade away.
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