Nervousness, fear, panic, low morale, low mood, low energy -- all natural things that happen from time to time.
If you go spend an immense amount of time walking and your feet feel sore, you say, "My feet feel sore right now."
But lots of times, when someone feels nervous or scared, they say, "I'm a nervous person. I'm a fearful person."
But that's not necessarily true. You don't have to identify with a given mood. Just like sore feet, worries come and go. "I feel somewhat worried at the moment" saps most of the power from it. Identifying with the negative emotion makes it stronger; noting that it's just there and fleeting makes it grow much weaker.
Just put this to use in the shower. Had some depressing and potentially scary thoughts, was able to distance myself and show myself that I myself was not depressed, these thoughts were causing the emotions so I have to be careful with them. This allowed me to process them better and feel better afterwards.
To assume that "you are a bad person" because you did a few bad things s to make the mistake of essentialist thinking.
I'm very interested in essentialism, as it's something I've struggled with. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on that.
The way I see it there are two ways to view yourself:
1. As an identity, an ego, self image, an essence. You ARE something and this is frozen, almost outside of time. Ever is, ever has been.
2. As a process, dispassionate observer, self narrative, a formless potential of nothingness. You can be described in operational terms by an observer in a particular time-space frame. You are not something static outside of time.
Over-reliance on model 1 can lead to shame if the mismatch between reality and blueprint is too great. An especially pernicious form is called toxic shame, as written about by Robert Glover and John Bradshaw.
Model 2 is much more resilient. Mismatch between reality and blueprint leads to guilt, which is superior to shame in that it can be rectified by action and repentance. Shame cannot be cured but by death (of the ego or the body). Guilt is about what I do, shame is about what who I am. This is what I suppose Aristotle meant by "you are what you repeatedly do" - it's an entry into a longstanding metaphysical debate about the essence of things.
Something related is the two levels of confidence:
Explicit confidence. Basically your cognitive programming around problem solving and dealing with life's challenges. You can be good at getting things done or figuring out your inner state via metacognition, and this leads to confidence. This is where a lot of personal development aims at.
Implicit confidence. Your deep sense of value, goodness and permission to exist. You can either plug in model 1 or model 2 here, with different results. Buddhism obviously aims to make the deep confidence purely model 2 via vanquishing of the ego.
A mismatch between implicit and explicit confidence coupled with model 1 can lead to loser-mode ("I am worthless") or psycho over-achievement ("I must prove myself and be the best!"). The latter CAN be beneficial to the world at large which is why I do somewhat approve of model 1. A healthy dose of narcissism CAN do good things for the world.
Reading certain blogs I see this pattern of overachievement clear as day. Don't mean any offence to anyone, I have the same "problem" and that's why I can identify it in others. I also do see a great deal of model 2 humility in the same guys, though.
I know what you mean. One does see a lot of these two approaches everywhere. It's the essential vs nihilistic dynamic that seems to lay at the heart of everything.
My thoughts? Well, in my view it's all an attempt to overcome insecurity. Is there a third way to go about that ? Yes.
The notion that although things seem like 1 they only seem so because of 2. So both are accurate to some extent.
I summed it up here:
For the last couple of days I keep wanting to yell at you GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! How do you know which problems I'm having THIS WEEK?! :)
I'm so glad you are writing on the internet.
Interesting post. I am actually adverse to solving eg anxiety issues with meds because it feels like an identity issue, and so I would just be running away from the problem like a coward if I took valium or something. Whereas I don't feel like that about a headache or a cold or whatever.
I guess the can of worms is this: if we stop attaching identity-meaning to things like anxiety, then to be consistent we kind of have to stop identifying with a LOT of mental phenomena. And people are not exactly ready to be Buddhist in general...
However, there is a subtle difference between a depressing thought that takes over a moment and it's better to ignore it - and then there is the perpetual, deep-down feeling of "something is actually wrong here" as a reaction to a certain situation, person, etc. - if you can identify a pattern you can actually tune in to these moments and see if they are telling you something about your life that you need to change. It might be your long-silenced intuition trying to give you a hint. Don't ignore your intuition, it is a very powerful tool that we seem to often ignore.
your post are simply awsum. It really makes a positive impact on readers as well as a in their way of thinking .
Keep up the good work...........................I totally agree with Your post. Running away and cursing ourselves is not at all solution .Sometime we gotta
face that negativity which is rising due to our disbelief in our potential..... and win against it...............
We all have times when we're feeling run down and pessimism strikes. "Oh, this will never work..."
Next time it strikes you and you get hit with a malaise, try this out:
Write down everything you're worried about going wrong.
Yup, in your mad pessimistic dash, just put everything down that could go wrong. It'll be an unpleasant list.
Now, here's the key part -- go away from that list until you're in a better mood.
A couple months ago I was minding my own business, reading a book, about to go to sleep. I give twitter one last check on my phone and see a message from my friend Jenna telling me of a deal to go to Lima, Peru for $380 round trip. I have no particular reason to go to Peru, but I decide to start booking it and make the decision as I go through the steps. The deal is about to go-- it's disappearing from different booking sites one by one. Hey, might as well go, I think. For how long? Well, I can't think of anything off the top of my head in Peru besides Machu Picchu (which I already decided I had to see before I died), so I play it safe and book eight days, figuring that will give me enough time for Machu Picchu and maybe one or two other things.
After booking, I begin to do a little research. The thing to do is the Inca trail, which is a four day hike from the Cusco area to Machu Picchu. You have to go with a tour group, and you have to book far in advance. I booked too late for that. The standard alternative is the Salkantay trek, which is typically a five day trek. It's harder than Inca and has better natural scenery, but no ruins along the way and doesn't lead directly to Machu Picchu like Inca does. I try to find a good tour group going there, but none of the published dates fit into my short window in Peru. Fine, I think, I'll just go solo.
I order a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and mattress pad, and that's the extent of my planning for over a month. With a week before I leave, I figure I ought to see if I need train or bus tickets. That's when I learn that Cusco is almost 24 hours away from Lima by bus, and that getting to the trail from Cusco takes several hours as well. Long story short, it looks impossible for me to Salkantay. But I've had it in my head for a month now that I'm going to do it, so I don't give up easily. Finally I find a way I can take a bus to Arequipa near the end, and then take a flight from there to Lima just in time to catch my flight. The problem is that this leaves me only about 3 days to do the trek, and less than 24 hours to acclimatize.
A week later, my trip begins. I'm overjoyed when my tent stakes make it through TSA security. Actually getting to the hiking trail is contingent on several fairly unlikely assumptions, the first of which is that the titanium stakes will make it through. The flight to Lima is long, but I somehow manage to get an exit row seat to Panama, and a whole row to myself to Lima. I get the best plane sleep I've ever had.