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Entries in personal (1)

Monday
Jun042012

An Atheist's Guide To Self Recovery In The Highly Functional Individual.

I write a lot of silly rules on twitter, and though they touch on truth, they're by no means serious "rules". I do, however, have 2 rules that I tend to live by, and they largely shape my world view.

1. Blame yourself, not the world.

2. A single mistake can't unravel everything, 80% of the time, it'll all be alright.

These two simple tenets essentially boils down to; take responsibility, and don't fall apart when something goes wrong. I guess a simplistic way of looking at it would be "positive thinking" or "Glass is HALF FULL!" or other similar trite expressions.

***

Taking Responsibility is one of those "Growing Up" lessons that teen shows try to teach everyone, but a lesson that seemed to have gone over most people's heads. It goes hand in hand with "don't fucking make excuses". The expletive is just there to illustrate the level of frustration it causes in other people when you do. It's easy to blame circumstances, other people, or things that seem to be entirely out of your control, whether to other people, or to yourself. Victimising yourself is one of the easiest ways of dealing with any situation that flinches on the unpleasant, however, unless you are a "victim" in the legal sense of the word, or you're that damsel tied to the train tracks and want/expect rescuing, MAN UP.

In its more primal sense, learning to blame yourself also puts you in control of your own life. It might be riskier, but there's nothing more edifying than realising that you are the stumbling block between where you are, and where you want to be.

Learning to apologise is that other caveat that comes with this first rule. People don't know how to apologise anymore; they'll start with an I'm Sorry, and then attach some excuse to it that seems to take away all culpability. That is not an apology, that's an explanation. Own up to it, that's the only way the apology is going to come from you. Besides, it's almost impossible to retort to someone who is saying sorry and putting the responsibility on themselves.

***

While we're being adult and taking all the blame for ourselves, let's not just dive headfirst into that pit of despair. As the second rule stipulates - a single mistake can't unravel everything; 80% of the time, everything is going to be okay.

If, however, you seem to be making mistake after mistake and never gleaning any shred of pattern recognition, then you should probably take a step back, maybe let someone else make the decisions in your life for a while.

Most of the time though, everything is going to be okay.

That might just be the single most important phrase in getting through everything. By all means, allow yourself time to wallow, to mourn, to do whatever it is you have to do when everything is not okay, but know that there will be an end date.

Know the end date, as in, actually have a day in mind. It could be one day, it could be a year, but know exactly which morning you are going to wake up, pull yourself out of bed and back into the mess of things. This usually happens organically, but for longer than it might be necessary. If you gave yourself ample time to fall apart, it's amazing what you can tell your brain to do when it's time to pull it back together.

***

We are all creatures of habit, and I don't mean the daily rituals or the road you take to get to work. We form habits of thinking and of outlooks that resist any kind of change. There's a reason why the 12 step programs take 12 steps from recognition to recovery. Know that it's all on you, but don't kill yourself over it.

It is almost the opposite of faith, it seemed the closer I came to these two principles, the closer I crawled towards atheism. Having to rely on yourself takes out the possibilities of fate, or destiny, and anything you achieve becomes an actual achievement, which can't be all bad.

After you have pulled yourself together, you need to start heading where you want to be, again. On the continuous line of everything that can be done to get to where that is, set two limits. "Point of what you're willing do." and "Point where things get too stupid to do."

Cross that first point. Don't get past the second.

Between those two points is the risk gap where real change can happen. This graph pretty much applies to everything in life.

---things you're willing to do--->| {risk gap} |---things too stupid to do--->

Writing a prosaic self-help entry on my blog is probably in that risk gap right now. But you know what? Apparently when the writing style of some book that's gotten under my skin is not influencing me, my writing comes out bland and clichéd and more than slightly dictatorial. I do apologise for my absence, I am entirely out of practice and I needed to ease myself back into things, and I had an end date on this whole "My brain is deteriorating and I have nothing to write" spiral, and today was that day.