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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Telling It Like It Is

In response to my blog, "Do Some People Simply Enjoy Being Negative? The Shame and Guilt Cycle"... I received the following comment: Anonymous said...I'm negative, I'm highly critical. It's not because of a guilt, shame, criticism cycle. I have a hard time looking on the bright side and i want everyone to feel as miserable as i do. I'm slightly guilty, but i don't feel shame. I'm shameless.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to see this comment. Not only could I have written that very comment myself in 2007, but I had always hoped that this blog could turn into a type of personal online support vehicle. I believe anonymous' comment to be honest and sincere.
In 2007, I was in a terrible state of depression. I was drinking too much, daily and heavily, and I hid my depression as much as possible when I wasn't drinking- but it began to leak through. I was incredibly critical of my real and perceived adversaries- this is not to say that I was wrong about them. Very often, my judgments and conclusions about them were dead on and correct. Had you asked me at that time, I would have told you I was a realist. I would have told you that my "insightful and intelligent" observations did not have a damn thing to do with shame and guilt- which was not entirely true. I am also ashamed to say- that I actually enjoyed being that way. Critical, depressed, and running other people down to make myself feel better. I did not feel any guilt or shame (at that time) because I believed those opinions to be true. I did not feel any shame until I became aware.

I did not realize how spiritually sick I had become. This blog really chronicles what happened to me, my observations, and how I was able to fix myself. I could do that for two reasons. I knew for sure that what I was doing was not working. I became willing to find any way that would work.

The first thing I did was quit drinking. I attended AA and I read the book cover to cover. Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program that is a living design. I paid attention. I desperately wanted to get well. During that time, I was given a copy of the "Four Agreements." That book was absolutely critical to my emotional makeover. Particularly important was agreement two. To this day, I do not let anything anybody says or does, effect me personally. I let people be just as crazy as they want to be and I'll be damned if I lift one finger to change that. I don't. If someone has upset me to the extent that I am required to make some sort of take it or leave it decision- I do that. I harbor no ill will and I go peacefully without explanation.
Tolle's, "A New Earth" sealed my resurrection. I felt as though Tolle wrote that book about me. I was completely insane, allowing my ego to absolutely run and then later, ruin my life. I am not my ego. For the first time in my life, I became aware of my false sense of self. My ego. I separated myself from ego and all that takes is awareness. That's it.  I read a great quote from Kurt Vonnegut once. "We are who we pretend to be."
I put together a design for living that works. Of the nine types of intelligence, it doesn't hurt that I score highest in intrapersonal intelligence. I am keenly aware of my emotions and now I am able to process them rapidly, internally, and constructively.
So let's get back to anonymous' comment. The shame and guilt cycle is handed down for generations. Constant criticism, judgments, and conclusions directed at children- become the tools of those children. Parents deliver those tools. Not only will their children likely pick those tools up later in life- but they will direct the same criticisms, judgments, and conclusions at their children and the people they interact with. They believe that type of behavior is true and acceptable. And so they engage in it and perpetuate it. People that are critical of others are often intelligent. Their belief systems are bolstered by reinforcing that intelligence via grades, awards, work accomplishments, and inter actions with others. They begin to believe they are smarter than many. And they may be.

When we talk about the shame and guilt cycle- those emotions are given to us. They result from someone elses's perception of us. Mostly parents. My father was shameless while delivering criticism to others which he did frequently. Therefore, I too, was shameless when delivering criticism of others. Did I want others to feel as miserable as me? Well, sure...I want them to agree with me and that way we could both be miserable. And we were.
What happened to me was a miracle. I found a permanent way out of all those negative emotions. Prior to that- I would have simply said- this is who I am. I have no choice in the matter. I am screwed, hopeless. That is perhaps the greatest lie of all. I now know that all of those belief systems were wrong. In order to get well, I had to develop a road map and a solution for everything that life throws at you. Can you prepare for death, disability and disfigurement, illness, divorce, loss? Sure. Can you eliminate self pity, anger, bad belief systems, lack of self esteem? Sure. 
Here's why this design works. It's like installing an entirely new operating system where every decision defaults to the decision that will make you happy. That doesn't mean the system can't crash from time to time- but it is rare.
Life offers us a myriad of choices all of the time. Often we practice contempt prior to investigation. We make choices thinking that there are no alternatives. Surely we would have found a way out, wouldn't we? Today I look on the bright side because it's all bright side. Four years ago- I would have thought anybody writing what I've written here- was full of shit. That's the truth. That's my ego telling me I am smarter than anyone else, practicing contempt prior to investigation.
All that, for that? Yes. Thanks anonymous.


Deus Ex Machina, (Mah-kee-na)

A deus ex machina (play /ˈd.əs ɛks ˈmɑːknə/ or /ˈdəs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/ day-əs eks mah-kee-nə;[1] Latin: "god out of the machine"; plural: dei ex machina) is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.

So today's question is an interesting one. Can a God of your understanding solve your emotional problems?

Very often, in the circles I travel, I hear people say they have turned their will and their lives over to the care of God as they understand him. Ok, I think. Time and time again these people state hence believe, God solves their problems. They simply get out of the way. They refuse to exercise free will and it all works out. That is the claim.

Here is an interesting question. If free will causes problems, can free will also solve problems? Of course it can. In fact, that might indeed- be the whole point of the exercise. Can life resolve itself constructively using free will without invoking God? Yes, I think so.

Deus ex machina refers to the inability of mankind to find a solution to an inextricable problem until something new is introduced to the equation. In fact, this is how all problems are eventually solved. Emotional problems are no different. If you are experiencing emotional problems, you cannot find the solution for "x" until you try something new.

Today, I understand that my God does not solve my problems for me. There would be no struggle, no lessons to be learned, no personal growth nor evolution if God simply did all of those things for me. My God is a facilitator. It is that immense pain, the gift of desperation that caused me to seek a solution. Today, it matters not, whether that was solved or facilitated by God or a deus ex machina, myself, or a combination thereof. What matters is that it works. Flayed and scarred badly enough, we find a solution for x. I am extremely grateful. This is how Nietzsche saw it.

Now, once tragedy had lost the genius of music, tragedy in the strictest sense was dead: for where was that metaphysical consolation now to be found? Hence an earthly resolution for tragic dissonance was sought; the hero, having been adequately tormented by fate, won his well-earned reward in a stately marriage and tokens of divine honour. The hero had become a gladiator, granted freedom once he had been satisfactorily flayed and scarred. Metaphysical consolation had been ousted by the deus ex machina.
—Friedrich Nietzsche