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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Is There A Spiritual Solution For Every Negative Emotion?

At one time in my life, I would have thought that question was ridiculous. Of course not. I practiced contempt prior to investigation. Quite simply, I thought I knew everything. I meet lots of people like that now.

Today I realize I was wrong. Just because you don't currently know the solution to (y) doesn't mean that a solution does not exist.

One of the greatest tricks of the human brain is that it convinces us that things are permanent. That emotions are permanent, that an inability to find a solution is permanent, that death is permanent. Depressed people who commit suicide are people without an ability or who lack the capacity to understand that there is a spiritual solution to their emotional problems. Not that I think suicide is an eternal death sentence. I rejected that fear based dogma years ago.

Imagine a negative emotion. Let's use anger. Can we dis-assemble anger like a non functioning engine or a clock and look at the parts? Can we figure out how the parts came to be, how they inter-relate, and how they fit back together? Can we fix anger like a mechanic rebuilds a 350 ci engine or a watchmaker fixes a mantle clock?

Of course we can. In fact, I have a spiritual solution for every negative emotion in my life. In the case of anger, I realize it is always fear based. When I root out the cause, which in my life usually meant that someone didn't do something the way I wanted or expected, I became angry. I find that emotion to be quite rare today. I stripped anger bare years ago, I dissected and evaluated all my fears, and I rebuilt my emotional brain. I don't take things personally. Do I still get angry once in awhile? Sure, but it happens with great infrequency.

There are also situations that exist which by themselves are not negative in and of themselves but always seem to generate negative emotions. Unmet or unrealized expectations. It happens all the time.

Here is the process I use. I take nothing personally, ever. If someone says they will call and they don't- that has nothing to do with me. If I am relying on somebody for anything in my life and they fail to meet the agreed upon terms, I accept my role and responsibility for relying on the unreliable. I also accept that people are simply living their lives and that sometimes- they do not meet their obligations or expectations. That has nothing to do with me. Those situations no longer anger me or generate negative emotions because I have a spiritual solution that is applied long before some expectation goes unmet. I risk manage in advance.

Once your expectations are un met, all that is required is communication and an internal dialogue about whether you want to subject yourself to or endure the same potential outcome again. Usually I do. I don't beat myself up if I am wrong twice. There is no rule regarding that, just a cliche' here or there.

With regard to expectations, I make plans. I do my best. I do not plan the outcome. I am always satisfied with the outcome as long as I have fulfilled my agreed upon role and due diligence. I control my actions and words. I cannot control the actions and words of others therefore I feel no need to manipulate others or try to persuade them if things don't go the way I'd like them to. I agree to those terms in the workplace, in the family, at the coffee shop.

People will always fail you. That's what people do and that is ok.

Today, I have discovered a peace that I would never have thought possible. I don't allow negative emotions to get into my head nor do I allow them to expand which they have a habit of doing. I am risk managed to such a degree that only rarely and fleetingly do negative emotions pop up, perhaps a couple of times a week. In the old days, this happened multiple times- every day. Once they do pop up, negative emotions are processed and eliminated quickly without further damage to myself or others by applying spiritual principles.

I sure could have used that spiritual blueprint as a younger man, but things never got bad enough...well... until they did. Perhaps that's what it takes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Never Really Got Ok With Dying

In my past life, I dealt with a lot of death. Traumatic death and accidents. Homicide and suicide, chronic disease. So what I'd like to do here is embed one of my all time favorite music pieces from a beautiful story about death and loss. I think you'll like it.

Death is an odd thing. We are never really ever prepared for it- even when we think we are. The circumstances of death can leave us feeling helpless, sometimes hopeless. Nobody wants to feel that emotional pain.

I may have come to terms with my own death- which we will see. But...

I have never really gotten "ok" with the loss of others. Sometimes the loss of people leaves a void that you can never fill. Sometimes you just pray for relief. The answer of course, is in preparation and acceptance. And even though I know all of those things, I simply can't reconcile loss. I don't feel guilt as though some intervention on my behalf could have stopped it. I accept that some people will die in accidents or by their own hand. And sometimes, loss doesn't get easier with time. It gets harder.

There is some comfort in knowing that I am not unique in the world. That thousands of people struggle with loss every day. Sometimes I am able to draw strength from them. Sometimes I am not.

Sometimes I just don't want to. And I know that's wrong. There is no solution in that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Logical Fatalism

Today I visited with a friend of mine who shares a lot of things in common with me. One of the things we share is a belief in a power greater than ourselves although both of us would be quite reluctant to call that being God. We do call that being God, I suppose, because it is easier to say when we are conversing. God we think, is just too simplistic.

Another thing we both agree on is acceptance. The only way to over come the fear of death is with faith, courage, and acceptance. With a belief, faith, and acceptance...courage seems un-neccessary.

All great men of faith have courage.

One of the things I absolutely marvel at, is the atheistic approach to life. I know a number of atheists and agnostics. Very often atheists are so convinced that there is no afterlife or hereafter that they do everything imaginable to extend their lives. Recently I read where Larry King wants his body suspended in some hope that one day they can find a cure to whatever killed him and bring him back. As soon as I read that, I immediately suspected that King was an atheist. Men of faith do not speak that way. Atheists and agnostics fear death to such an extent that their lives become some compilation of learned behaviors and safety precautions. Even retroactive precautions like suspended animation. Here is the worst part.

They believe that there is no greater power than themselves. Think about that. If you are an atheist, that has to be true does it not? You are the center of the universe. That is scary. It has to be lonely, being an atheist.

What happens when you practice faith, courage, and acceptance? You begin to see a process much larger than your own tiny and lonely existence. You begin to trust in a much larger community. You feel intuitive truth. You begin to believe in a process. It is the cycle of things. There is the planting time, the growing time, the harvest time, and the dying time. The process resets and starts anew. Over and over again and virtually everywhere- we see this. We see this in the daily and seasonal rotation of our planet. We see it in all life forms. We begin to think, maybe I'll just accept and embrace this death process when it comes. Our fears are removed. We have let go. We are going to trust in powers far greater than we are. We are going to believe that somehow a spark of life was delivered here- for some reason that we cannot comprehend. We just know everything is going to be alright. Fear is going to have to burden someone else.

I would not have been ready for this years ago. There is something to be said about consciousness and timing.

I think it was Nietsche who asked why we would fear something that we cannot feel or comprehend anyway. Did we fear being born? Though Nietsche was an atheist, I understand what he was saying even though we have divergent views of what that might entail. He is processing what makes sense to him, I tend to process and envision something a whole lot different.

I hate to call my friend and I fatalists. But we probably are. We are Aristotelian logical fatalists. We believe that we are going to die on some predetermined date. Perhaps we could intervene and change dates, but that is not particularly necessary as the outcome remains the same. Nor would we know whether we had impacted or effected any date change. The difference between our atheistic counterparts and ourselves is that we have embraced the idea of death and accepted it. Perhaps the atheists, despite all of their precautions, don't wield any more control over their deaths than we do. Perhaps what is, is already predetermined according to logical fatalism. The only difference is the level of fear attached to it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A "Normal Life" and the Last Renaissance

Tonight I had a chance to listen to a young man speak about his life. He reminded me so much of me that it actually sent chills up my spine. The similarities are remarkable.

We had a chance to speak after the meeting. This is what he said as near as I can remember it.

We talked about a "normal" life. I asked him to define "normal." This is what he said. "I want to be peaceful and happy. I want to be involved in a relationship where both parties love themselves before they attempt to love another. I want operating instructions that work so that when I run into problems and things that baffle me in life, I can quickly resolve them without causing anyone or myself any emotional damage. I just want to be happy, like I said."

I was in a state of awe. This guy is me. I didn't say a word to him.

You see, I have a problem. I can't help anyone. Why? Because this is what I would have had to tell him.

Initially, your life must get so miserable, terrible, lonely and depressed, that it forces you to capitulate. If you cannot find that place- you will not be given the motivation to get well. Secondly, you must be unflinchingly honest with yourself, admitting every character flaw that you possess and become willing to work on and eliminate all of them. You must become willing to throw out every belief system that you have acquired. You can no longer behave like a victim or wallow in self pity. Every time you feel emotionally distraught- you are the problem and you must find the solution from within. Very often that is simply acceptance. You must unconditionally attempt to love anyone and everyone- even child sexual predators, murderers. The people you resent the most. You must let people be who they are. And perhaps most importantly...

You must become aware of your false sense of self- ego- and be willing to destroy those pieces of your ego which damage and injure others. 

These are all choices. These were the choices I made in order to become calm and peaceful. Happy. Had I done anything less, the recipe would not have worked. It is an all or nothing proposition. You cannot cling to fear. Or any negative emotions. They are processed and eliminated quickly. The hardest thing I have had to deal with is intermittent bouts of depression. I am aware of it, I process it and eliminate it, and sometimes it comes back. No wonder people people see shrinks, get prescriptions, drink and drug. They want to alter how they feel. They do not have any way of doing that- and certainly nothing as quick and effective as swallowing some Xanax or drinking some whiskey. Or whining to a shrink that nods and enables them to keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.

The problem with the quick and easy way is that it is only temporary. The underlying illness remains. Sometimes forever. Sometimes it kills you.

So how am I going to explain any of that to some guy I just met? How I am going to explain that I have found a healthy way to process all of those emotions, including depression, without sedatives? I have a very normal and happy life. Not perfect, but pretty damn close- sans a depression here or there.

The sad truth is, I can't. If someone had told me that they had- I wouldn't believe them. I'd think they were some deluded and ego driven maniac. This is what I think will happen one day.

There will be another renaissance in this country. People have quit smoking. They are eating healthier, living longer. They are exercising. The last frontier to be conquered will be the one that we are all still clinging to. The mood altering, I want to feel better now mentality, facilitated by mind and mood altering substances happily supplied by six figure doctors, shrinks, and big pharma. Sometimes drug dealers. Big business in the form of beer, wine, and alcohol makers and distributors. There will come a day when people examine the damage that these things cause and they will seek better, healthier ways of processing emotions. There will be a cultural shift and it will take all of the work I have described above. People will begin to alter their moods through positive lifestyle changes and they will begin to process emotions internally and rapidly- arriving at logical conclusions that include not taking things personally. Or not making assumptions, judgments, or conclusions until they have heard every side of the issue. No more contempt prior to investigation. Acceptance when alternatives are non existent.

I believe this conscious shift, the last emotional (and physical) health conscious renaissance will occur one day- just not any day soon. One day we may all be handing our children entirely new operating instructions and tools, teaching them how to behave responsibly and emotionally correct. No booze or drugs. Resolving issues quickly and internally- finding a happy and normal life.