Accepting the Good in Life – No ifs, ands, or buts

jabba_the_hutt

Why is it that bad things feel safer? I mean, they hurt like hell and you feel like shit, but it seems less terrifying than a good thing happening. I used to think it was the depression. I imagined depression as Jabba the Hut, feasting on my failures, my failures transforming into fat, pushing down on me harder. (Ugh. I know I chose the image but it’s still vile all the same.)

But I’m starting to think it’s a maladaptive behavior; a habit of safety and control. ‘Cuz if things start to get good, that means they can get bad. If I get something, it could be taken away. Or worse, I could enjoy it, and then it could be taken away or I could ruin it.

I know I have written on this quite a bit already, but I was thinking about it in the context of women recently. I think women are more likely to protect themselves through insults and assumptions of failure to protect against “embarrassment.” This is a generalization, but when my friends are waiting to hear back about something, they spend a lot of time talking about what they will do if they don’t get it or how they know they won’t because there are better people out there. They are already preparing for the worst, and they don’t know why. My male friends don’t seem to be that way. It’s not that they walk around like a sheriff, with their thumbs tucked in their pants, their chests broad like a rooster saying “I’m just kicking it, waiting for what’s mine.” But they don’t seem to spend as much time berating themselves beforehand like women do.

There is an Amy Schumer skit. (NSFW) I don’t actually think the skit is that funny, but I love the point of it. A bunch of women are standing around, and as one compliments the other, her automatic response is to point out something horrible about herself. They go back and forth, dissing themselves each time they get a compliment until one woman approaches. They compliment her and she thanks them, and they proceed to kill themselves. She has, by accepting the compliment, shaken the base of their lives to its’ core.

Are we stuck in a cycle where it’s never enough? Is that what the American Dream is attempting to create? Not a person striving to reach the top, but a person who is constantly told they can be better and therefore in their current state, is not enough. Because we can always be thinner, richer, “happier.” And evidently the fault lies with us, not with sexism, racism, homophobia, religious persecution, ethic-judging, classism, (any form of defeatism).

I suppose that’s why I hate the American Dream. It was created as propaganda to keep utilitarianism alive. But there isn’t really an American Dream. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who was content with where they were in life. I’m not saying you should get to a point of success and just stagnate there and quit. You should always try to challenge your mind, help others, question society. But that’s different than believing you need to be more, have more, want more in order to find this non-existent happiness.

What if the American Dream was rather a list of ideals to live your life by:

*Always respect those around you and treat them the way you want to be treated.
* Never assume to know who someone is, but always assume the best.
* Always help others, in whatever way you can, in whatever ways they need.
* Add value to the world in your actions
* Always analyze, critique and question everything in life
* Never stop learning
* Live your life in a way that makes you proud

(I’m clearly missing a few, so feel free to offer suggestions in the comment section.)

I don’t do religion, though in reading this, I suppose a lot of these fall under the tenets of most of them. I just think if we stopped trying to achieve and rather just tried to experience, live, understand, connect, and question, we might find moments of contentment, even if we can’t find this illusive and non-existent “happiness.”

Oh my goodness, did I really just write this cheesy ode to the world? Did I go hippy dippy on myself without realizing it? I better stop now before I go too deep and resent myself in the morning.

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A Habit I Can’t Quit: All Decisions Lead to Failure

So the number one thing that brings me anxiety like no other is decision-making. And that’s been a big ‘ol nuisance as of late. But what has me up tonight is my inability to prioritize.

At work, it was pretty easy to prioritize. I had due dates, and after a while, a sense of the process and how long things took. I knew how long I could hold off on the things I hated, and what days I could slack off if needed.

But now I feel like I’m running around in circles. And I think a part of me is afraid to stop and organize it because that will make the decisions real and I will have to make them. And things are more complicated when it comes to prioritizing your life. It’s hard to place value on something like “deciding if I am ready to move across the continent” or “if I’m smart enough to take this challenging volunteer job.” It’s not a task, it’s a choice and that means choosing a path that may lead to good or bad. I know people say that it’s your path, whatever you choose, but I kind of think they say that to make them feel better for all the shitty choices they have made along the way. (Sorry, I’m a bit crabby.)

I know having options are a luxury, but a part of me wishes for simpler times. I was joking with my mom that I think I was born in the wrong era. Sometimes I crave the idea of an arranged marriage, a job based on what my family did or what was tasked to me, a life laid out for me without having to choose whether it was good enough or not. I wouldn’t have to worry if I “could have done more or been better” because I was following what was expected. It’d never work given my liberal belief system, my innate feeling that I could always be doing more, and just my own self-respect..

I think depression gave me something similar to that. Or perhaps it gave me something to blame, to put fault on. But it helped make decisions for me. It would tell me not to go out, not to call someone back, not to go to the gym, not to try and achieve something or speak up for myself. And it protected me in doing those things and therefore moving forward and risking failure even though I felt like a failure the whole time because I wasn’t doing those things and I wanted to. (It’s really quite confusing.)

There’s a spin app that has a trainer on it that I do for my workouts…anyway, one of things that the trainer say is that it’s better to try to challenge yourself and have to pull back then not try and see if you can do it. And she also says the point is to defeat yourself, to push yourself farther than you think you can, and not make it – find your breaking point. I think the idea behind it is that every time you do that, you can push yourself farther and I imagine it also intends to provide a mindset that failure from trying is success all on its’ own because you won’t know how strong you are until you figure out when you have to pull back.

I think about that a lot now. Knowing your potential. Knowing what you’re good at. Knowing what you can and can’t handle. That sometimes the only way to figure it out is to do it, and yet it’s also important to listen to yourself and if your inner self is screaming “don’t do this! it’s not just fear, we aren’t ready!” you also need to listen to that, no matter how disappointing.

So I guess decision-making, failure, fault, and trust are facing me across the table. And I need to prioritize the choices I must make and the tasks that come with those choices. A part of me craves to just make a decision, have it feel right, and move forward scared but certain. But that feeling has yet to come.

Usually in spin, when she tells me to try and push myself a little harder, I might go up a notch or two, but I don’t really go to a point of defeat. I don’t want to be dissapointed. I don’t want to accept failure or set a higher bar that I might not be able to reach the next time I spin.

I’ve created a system that has put myself in quite a predicament. Because really, there’s no way to win. I can prioritize, I can try to challenge myself, I can try to see failure as success for what it teaches me, but in the end, deep inside, it all feels like failure. It feels instinctual. And while I see how to change certain habits and I give DBT a lot of credit for skills to help break bad habits, this is more of an internal belief system. Next to my values of helping others, being a good person, and always trying to add value, I believe what I do will never be enough and I will never find peace within myself because I don’t deserve it and I should be ashamed for the opportunities I have been allotted and the time I have wasted convincing all of these people to believe in me and give me chances.

This is when if I friend told me that I would tell her she should go to therapy. LOL. My therapist believes and I agree that I established these beliefs from a very young age and they were supported in different contexts and so I came to make these thoughts into facts. She believes I must grieve for what I have lost because of it, understand why it became fact so that I can see it is thought, and from there, learn to question that thought when it arises and tries to bring me to my demise.

And I want to believe her. I’m just not sure I can do it, and honestly, I’m afraid to fail.