The Truth About Truth

Image

 

Artwork El Curiot by Jeff

 

If you’re currently reading this blog, chances are, you’ve been thinking along the same lines as I’ve been for a while now. I realize that by typing this out, what I’m essentially doing is preaching to the choir. Some might say that it’s fruitless, but I like to think that maybe I can push you further. So, let me start this by saying, good job guys! Not for reading this blog, but for exploring the world in an unconventional way and getting you to this place. It’s been a hard road I’m sure, what with the criticisms of the character you’ve developed over the years. But, I’ve noticed in my life and in others that it’s usually the hard road that leads you to the truth.

 
Why is that though? Why should the truth be such a hard thing to find? Well, not always, but usually it’s because it’s also the last thing we want to hear or know. It truly hurts to know truths about yourself and it may even lead you into a crisis. Like opening up a can of worms, it just doesn’t stop once it’s been opened.
 
We also project ourselves very badly. We need to build a metaphorical mirror within ourselves to be able to see ourselves correctly. Sometimes, the closest people around you can work this way, but that mirror is always tarnished by their own perspective and not always accurate. This is why we must sit and focus within ourselves to give ourselves that much needed introspection.
 
The way that I’ve learned to build my mirror is by imagining a second self. It’s not empathy, it’s you in a different body. You are that second you and you’re looking at the first you and try to analyze. It’s much easier to criticize other people and seeing their faults, knowing which way would be best for them to go, but it’s much much harder to do that for yourself. So, that’s why I imagine a second me. Though this might sound a bit absurd, it’s really not. It’s a mechanism, a tool that you can use. In a complicated life, it’s best to have many tools. Everyone of those tools serves a purpose. So, go and build yourself an arsenal of tools. You’ll always be human, but you’ll be more prepared for the next thing that comes.

Two Sides to Positivity

Image

 

Artwork by ShyyBoyy (http://shyyboyy.deviantart.com/)

Now, when people tell me to be more positive or to behave more positively, I generally get irritated and that’s usually because I don’t like it when someone tells me I should be a certain way. That’s not to say that I don’t like getting constructive criticism, it’s that saying something like “be more positive” really isn’t very helpful. I think that it’s more important to be able to see all aspects of life as something interesting be it depression, sadness or even anger. Everything has some sort of aspect that you can learn from or unlearn. If you focus too much on only the good things in life, it becomes really hard to tolerate the bad things whenever they come.

 
That being said, I think that a “positive” attitude is actually a good thing, but just misunderstood. If you pull away any sort of new age aspects about positive and negative energy, it’ll be a lot easier to understand this. Because it’s frighteningly simple. It’s just a choice. You can either sit in your car and complain about traffic all day, or you can think of it as “me” time or as a test of your patience (which works like a muscle). To me, it’s not really about being either positive or negative all the time, but what you can do that makes a situation more beneficial to you. Which is usually being more positive (but not always).
 
I understand that sometimes it takes different wording to really understand a concept and so, here’s a link to a guy who talks about the same thing, but in a different way. (No, I didn’t belligerently steal this idea from him :P)
 
Enjoy!
Till next time… 

The Bright Side To Trauma

Image

artwork by Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen

 

Trauma and change, to me, are directly linked. If you can accept that you’re going to come out of it as a different person, then you can see to it that you become the person you want to be. The last place anyone wants to be is as a victim and so I’ve learned that you can twist your fate and become empowered by it. The way to do it is the same as “goal setting”, you see a goal and you figure out the necessary steps to get to that goal. You should do your pros and cons list before doing this, but chances are, when you’re in this victimized state, you’re going to feel like you have nothing to lose. Which isn’t true, but it’s important to hold on to that feeling, because it’s that sort of attitude that helps you in achieving your goals. 

If you can help it, take a step back and breathe. In a victimized state, your emotions over power your rationale. Coming to any sort of justifiable solutions could end up being catastrophic if you’re not able to see clearly. This is where meditative techniques become very useful, but there are many webpages that cover this, so I’m not going to go into depth about the various techniques. What I am willing to say, however, is that a traumatic event is also an opportunity for that metamorphosis that you’ve been looking for. The tragic part of this is that it will happen whether or not you want it to. It’s simply a choice of directing where it goes and how it happens. The biggest problem that I’ve noticed is just deciding where the change will go. The best course of action I can recommend is that you figure out who you are and then find the route you think is better suited to you. 

If you’re like me, the path to self discovery is never ending but always worth searching for.

On Judgmentalism (and afterword)

Image

Art by Cahill Wessel

 

When you judge someone, you leave yourself closed to who that person actually is. You judge their flaws and forget or are blinded to your own. It’s a useful tool for weeding out people you feel aren’t more worthy of your time but denies the other person the opportunity to surprise you. This is where being a judgmental person gets its bad reputation because while all these things may be accurate to the flaws of someone who’s judgmental, it denies the benefits.

What you actually do when you judge someone is you put them in a category or label and this is a quick and efficient way of understanding someone before actually getting to know them (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). This doesn’t just apply to people, but things as well. Be it your song track list, sport, art, etc. It revolves around your own personal tastes. All of these categories contain good and bad be it a fascist doctrine or a spiritual speech given by Mahatma Gandhi.

It helps to categorize things. You can give it a name so that you don’t end up having to give a detailed explanation every time you want to express an idea. Like calling greenish-blue ultramarine or purplish-red magenta. This applies to people what with the many culture, sub-cultures, fads, religions that we have. A lot of people get offended when you put them under a certain label because they don’t feel like they are the total sum of that label and honestly, they have a right to be. So, although someone may seem as though they fall under a category, you also have to respect that just because you drew a line in the sand saying where the categories are doesn’t mean that they necessarily sit there. Other people take pride in their label which is again, good and bad.

So, although the initial mechanism that makes up the parts of judgmentalism have benefits, taking those judgments too seriously can have you end up with your foot in your mouth or have you become such a person that leaves themselves closed to being surprised. 

If I ever had a mantra, it’d be to always find your own personal balance.

 

Afterword:

So we don’t end up with any confusion here, I’ll openly point out that I don’t have any degrees in philosophy, psychology or really anything. I’m not a master of anything and though zen has helped me gain focus and control over my thoughts I can’t say that I have any special talents regarding anything zen. I’m just a guy who’s told regularly how much he thinks too much and asks too many questions. I like to think that it’s due to this quality of mine that I’ve been able to develop numerous life coping skills. I’ve developed my own system and I figured if people are interested, I’ll clue you in on it. Hence, this blog. So keep reading and I’ll keep writing. 

About Selfishness And Fish

Image

artwork by Kenglye (http://kenglye.deviantart.com/)

 

I believe that there is always a hidden ability in every “flaw”. I put flaw into quotations because as I’m going to point out, a flaw doesn’t really exist. I’ll be honest here, I’m a selfish and judgmental person, which is something about myself that I don’t feel I can change (even though I try sometimes). But, that’s not a limitation, that’s just a characteristic. We’ve been trained that we need to be a certain way to coexist and so a lot of people struggle with themselves to try to fit into a mold that they feel they should be part of. Of course, you can’t do that. You are somewhat stuck with a certain characteristic that was either passed down to you through genetics or just a reaction to past life events, be it your parents, family and friends or some form of a traumatic experience.

There are some people who are better tuned to being empathetic toward others, but that’s just not me. Selfishness isn’t anything that’s good or bad, it just is. However, I’ve learned how to twist my selfishness into being more useful and productive while still being concerned for the well-being of others. Like everything in life, this is just a matter of perspective. This is something I like to call “Wise Selfishness”. You may think of yourself as an individual, and you are, but that’s not the whole story. Think of the world as one giant fish tank. You can’t get away from whatever the other fish are expelling. The slimy scales they shed or the poo laden rock floor, the algae that floats and sticks to whatever it can, the current. Whatever happens in that tank, affects other things and you are just one of those other things. All interconnected in some way. Your individuality exists but it doesn’t matter, you’re forced into this uncomfortable fish tank regardless of your opinion on it. So, how is this selfish fish supposed to act unselfishly? Well, consider that if that other fish swimming around close to you is having a bad day, you’re also likely to have a bad day because of it, because you’re stuck and you can’t get out of the tank. The only thing you can do is try to help the other fish if you don’t want to have your day ruined. Sure, you can try to stay away from it or hide under a rock, but even those options don’t result in you having a good day because you’re compromising your situation. You had to change your situation to avoid something worse which ends up being bad, but not as bad. I’m always looking for a win\win situation here and I’m willing to bet most people are. 

So, now you’re helping others out so you can help yourself. Pretty basic idea. Now, add several billion people to this equation and you have yourself something more complex. You see, we all act selfishly as though none of our actions affect others and vice versa. We think we can avoid having our days affected by others by avoiding them. We just want to hide under a rock till the storm is over and maybe have something to talk about at the end of the day. Truth is, everyone becomes affected. This does not mean that you should confront the next person having a bad day or to over step your boundaries. It does mean that you should consider that your selfishness may not just be limited to your individuality, but encompasses everything. This is about understanding, not action. Or better yet, understanding so you can act.

Stay selfish, but be wise about it.

—–

That’s the end of my article for today, but next time I’ll talk about the bright side of being judgmental.

The Value of Self-Awareness

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  – C.G. Jung

There’s a saying in zen that if you realize there’s a truth to find, you’re already halfway to finding it. This is also true in self-awareness. Being self-aware entails you to constantly confront yourself and ask the questions you really don’t want to hear the answers to. It sounds like masochism, but really it’s more like taking a sliver out. It’s painful at first and sometimes you need to dig deeper than you thought to pull the sliver out, but after a while, you begin to heal properly. Half the trouble is finding where the sliver is and sometimes, you don’t know it’s even there until you notice swelling. Some people are born with thicker skin that don’t get small slivers often and only really notice the big ones. Others have soft skin which feels every sliver, big or small. The advantage of a thick skin is that you’re not often bothered, but because it’s not under frequent attack, it doesn’t know how to handle slivers as well as the soft skin. The weakness is the armour. The disadvantage of soft skin is that it gets overwhelmed with slivers easily. 

Always strike the balance that suits you best.

The sliver metaphor explains the problems you face in your life and they come from all directions, even within. Self-awareness is a tool to find where the sliver is and to remove it requires you to trace the beginning of it. The root. Sometimes, the sliver is so big that even though it’s removed, it leaves behind a scar. Scars are beautiful in the right light and if you’re brave enough, you can tattoo over them to turn them into something new.

Make peace with your scars but never accept your slivers.

Image

 

Open and Closed

Image

 

These days, you don’t need to go far to hear the terms “open” and “closed” minded. The general idea is that when you’re open minded, it means you’re more receptive to new ideas and concepts, closed minded being the opposite. Obviously, I’m talking about the common use of the terms and not the psychological term and history that it implies, so, no, I’m not about to delve into anything Jung said.

Because I have an affluence for searching for the balance in all things, I have a hard time accepting that there are only two ways of being however appealing and simplistic that may be. So, as usual, I’ll go through my pros and cons list to try to view the idea as a whole. Generally speaking, when someone calls someone else closed minded, they usually mean that they are “stubborn”, closed off to new ideas and show resistance to new ways of dealing with life things, be it job or just everyday stuff. What often gets disregarded is that there is stability and security in this mentality. Someone who is consistent in their behavior. You could go as far as say “predictable” though that’s sometimes seen as an insult. It’s easier to regiment your life when you keep to one idea and resist any others.

Open mindedness is usually seen as the better alternative to being closed because it shows an acceptance to more modern or new ways. Being closed comes off as being old and so being open is seen as being new. In our society, new is often associated with being young, fresh. Part of the culture that glorifies the values of being young and not old. The positive qualities of this open mindedness usually entail a better receptivity to new ideas, it opens the doors to creativity and allows someone to really experiment and find better ways to past solutions. The down side is the inability to hold on to a single idea or to become easily fooled by whatever comes off as being new. It’s like risk, the bigger the risk, the better the rewards. That being said, the opposite is also true. The bigger the risk, the more severe the consequence. But, if you manage risk wisely, you can have the benefits and consequences of both. Taking smaller risks but more frequently.

Like most everything in life, you need to find the balance in both extremes. Too closed and when the environment changes on you (as it always does) the harder it is to change with it. Too open and you find yourself constantly at odds with yourself because you change too often.