Advice for young men (AFYM): Logic wont compel you to change, stories will

Jungian philosophy is complex and multifaceted, but one of the primary ideas behind it is the confrontation and channeling of the shadow.

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”

― Carl Jung

The shadow of man dives down to hell, and yet so many people walk around as if they don’t have a choice to be good.

I read about this idea and decided to try and embrace the capacity in myself to do great evil, and focus on the choice not to do evil.

I logically understood the ideas, and yet part of me resisted truely embracing it.

Then on a chance, I watched Beastars. In the story the Main character struggles with this percise Jungian problem. Most of the show he acts as if he has no capacity to do evil, and as such is weak, and not truely a good man (wolf). However, when presented with his dark side, he confronts it, and eventually is able to channel his darkness to save those he loves.

Suddenly for me the philosophy clicked, some part of my brain was able to wholly embrace the ideas.

This is my long winded way of saying that even if you logically want to change, you will struggle to unless you have a story to attach to that logic.

Humans are Firstly Emotion Based

The old adage you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, is rightfully translated, you can teach a man anything but you can’t make him belive it.

Because there is a part of our brain that attaches information to stories. The shaman, the lore master, the priest, all of them teach through stories. What is any religious text but a story that teaches lessons?

So, my advice is if you want to truly internalize things you have to find a story that teaches it, or you might struggle.

If worry is your default, moving away from it will be difficult, but not impossible

My default mode most days is to wake up, realize I am alive and then start looking actively for something to worry about.

I’ve spent enough time lately in states of non-stress, states that were completely sober, that I’ve come to realize that my stressed out state isn’t mandatory.

When you spend so much time angry, upset, and depressed, you start to think that’s the normal state, and that it’s inevitable. But with a lot of mindfulness, I’ve come to realize this isn’t my natural state.

As I observe my thoughts more and more, I realize my mind actively hunts out problems to worry about and if it cannot find anything I might even invent a problem. But this like all bad habits is just a run away feedback loop that can be interrupted.

I’m getting better at interrupting that loop, but a second more important lesson I’ve learned is that life isn’t going to stay consistent. There is no state where I don’t sometimes get stressed and make mistakes, and that’s okay.

Life is not about doing the right things, it’s about doing.

AFYM: Sometimes Things are Just Boring, and That’s Normal

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In my life there have been plenty of times where I was actively bored. At work during a lull, at school in a mandatory class, or maybe just on a summer day when it’s too hot to ride my bike.

However, there seems to be a second type of boredom that tends to come in during otherwise pleasant parts of life, emotional boredom.

I think media, of all sorts, paints life with bright colors, vivid greens that make our trees seem dead in comparison, beautiful tans that make our own bodies seem pale, and bright blues that shame the real sky. But more sinister, media, traditional and social, posits that reality is a constant melodrama.

In writing, we learn to ask a question when writing, “is this the most exciting part of the character’s life? If not, then write about that instead.” And all media mimics this formula. It’s why we never see characters go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, eat corn flakes, or go in for a routine physical where the results are all just OK.

This is fine, as what I just described sounds like a horrible form of entertainment. The problem becomes when we stop actively reminding ourselves that all media, from Instagram posts to blockbusters is the most exciting slices of a person’s life cultivated and designed to provoke an emotion. We begin to look at our own life subconsciously as lesser, and more sisterly begin to seek drama.

This emotional boredom becomes the basis of dissatisfaction. Comparison leads the person to stimulate their lives, and many and young man has fallen prey to this.

The man might seek out partners who are not healthy, but are exciting. He might reject all sensible jobs to do something risky, not because he actually believes in it, but because the idea of his life being ordinary, happy, contented or mostly ok bores him.

Be wary of creating or joining drama.

Not that you shouldn’t get involved with things your a geuninely passionate about, what I am saying is don’t invent or seek out problems that aren’t yours.

Sometimes we hang out with our friends and they vent to us, and suddenly we find ourselves as stressed out as the person actually experiencing the situation. We might day dream solutions, or even follow the situation with bated breath. But in the end, that’s not our business.

Being a human is boring sometimes. Learn to sit with that, be ok with it, and be wary. Sometimes things are worth fighting for, but more often than not you just might be bored.

(PS: If EVERYTHING is boring, go see someone if you can, that’s a symptom of depression)

A terribly oversimplified guide to OCD

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(Disclaimer: I have been diagnosed by an M.D. I am not a doctor, and I will probably get some of this wrong! Feel free to tell me what I missed!)

I apologize for the relative radio silence the past few days. I suffered from an acute spike in my OCD.

OCD is an often misunderstood and misrepresented mental illness. It is debilitating at times, and I have only a moderate case of it. Some people are literally boxed in by there disease stuck in their homes for fear of triggering their OCD.

OCD is in its simplest form is a runaway feedback loop.

The same way any other organ doesn’t stop working when we are not conciously aware of it, the brain doesn’t stop either.

In the neuro-typical (average functional) brain, there is a gatekeeper of sorts that screens this constant pool of thoughts. This gatekeeper tends to only allow thoughts that disagree with the core personality of the individual to pass into consciousness.

In someone with OCD this is the first stumbling block. That gaurds man is quite drowsy and lets a number of perfectly common but disturbing thoughts into consciousness.

Now this sometimes happens in most humans. The urge to jump off a high ledge will send a shudder down someone’s spine, or the idea that maybe we are dying of HIV might send someone into an hour or two of worry.

In OCD however, the this is the second downfall. In OCD the horrifying thought is picked up by and over sensitive brain and amplified. It is used as proof that by simply having this thought is an indication to action. Despite OCD thoughts nearly always being completely opposite of the true character of the individual, and against their wishes.

This causes considerable emotional distress, and to combat that OCD people preform compulsions, or behaviors to aliviate this stress.

The nature of these compulsions depends on the individual, and they are generally disruptive such as hand washing ect, and they are not always consistent. In movies an OCD person has to have every part of their room organized, in real life their room might be a mess, but the OCD Suffer’s hands might be bleeding from being washed too many times.

By participating in these compulsions, the brain incorrectly interprets the anxiety as valid. By running away from the boogy man he becomes real, even if he’s nothing more than a bundle of sticks in the wind.

And so it goes on and on and on, until the OCD sufferer if he or she is lucky learns about Therapies that work. The most effective being ERP or Exposure response prevention.

The therapy is deceptively simple yet exceptionally difficult. It involves avoiding the alleviation of anxiety. The OCD sufferer exposes themselves to things that trigger anxiety and chooses conciously to avoid making themselves feel better. Eventually, the brain learns that since no feedback is given to relive it that the fear they are feeling is disproportionate to the situation, and so the anxiety decrease. Thus Severing the Feedback loop!

Mind you this is not a cure, and it is difficult to do without the aid of Medication, and there are still sometimes the OCD sufferer will fail at this task.

I write this post t simply explain why I haven’t posted and more importantly to tell you all that struggling with a mental illness is perfectly normal, and I understand.

These are strange times, so take care of yourself, and if you do struggle try and get some help.

Hope you all stay well. Be back soon.

Advice For Young Men: It’s okay if you lose motivation sometimes, this is normal.

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So, today, and for the past week or so I’ve been drained. My OCD has been really acting up, and I’ve been having to deal with that.

I have been putting in the work but my heart isn’t it.

But that’s ok. You are allowed to, especially in stressful situations, lose motivation, and not want to do anything.

The key is to show up, and try your best, but don’t be to harsh. Focus on your responsibilities to others and yourself, but don’t worry if you lost all your motivation, it will recharge, it just needs time. You aren’t a machine.

It’s a Grand and Noble game

“Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes.

You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say “Well, that was pretty great.” But now let’s have a surprise. Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control.

Where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say “Wow, that was a close shave, wasn’t it?” And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream.

And finally, you would dream … where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1501096-let-s-suppose-that-you-were-able-every-night-to-dream

So suppose the above quote is true. Let’s suppose this is by choice our life. That what is going on is what we chose to do.

Well then it certainly means that this is all a game!

The real worry comes from not knowing. All anxiety is the recognition of how invariably complicated this all is. Think of even a simple task, say going to the market, and begin to think of everything that will go wrong.

Even excluding subtle variations, you could list a thousand things, and still not being close to done. Thus anxiety.

But the quest to eliminate anxiety totally is also a fools errand!

Peoeple miss that the game is the interplay between anxiety and calm, between past and future, and want and satiation.

Life is not, as we so often see it in the west, a problem to be solved. That sort of thinking is both reductive and dangerous, as is all too often seen in the Utopianists of the world, be they Mao, Stalin, Hitler, or nameless Southern Slave owners.

So given this, what is a person to do?

Well, I’ve not the foggiest idea.

Actually, I have some idea, and that is the most anyone can ask for.

The idea is to play the game sincerely. Not for some outcome, as outcomes aren’t real, they are imaginary devices we invented to help produce real tangible results, but the goals aren’t actual physical things.

No, the idea is to play to play, and accept if there is a boon or bane, that is a nice treat or an unpleasant shock, but it isn’t the point.

Some people call this state flow, where the mind becomes immersed in the moment, and loses track of the grand societal narrative, they become sincerely dedicated to something they want to do.

You see when we play the game with results in mind it taints it. If we talk to an attractive person we’d like to get to know, and we really want to get their number, our sincerity is removed, and we come off as a sales pitch. Only when we go in knowing that we might fail and being ok with that, can we really fall into ourselves and away from the objective.

This all may sound a little crazy, and it is. But I’ve come to find some sort of peace in the knowing, that it’s all a grand game, and the point is to play it.

AFYM: Just show up

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There is a strange ethic that runs through the culture like a common cold, or maybe a better comparison would be Mono. You know that disease that all the teens gave each-other when Stacy would make out with Jack and Jack with John, and John with Jill, ect. It would make you lethargic, and not want to do much of anything.

The ethic I am so haphazardly talking about is, well the idea of making up for yesterday.

“i didn’t eat well yesterday, best eat extra good today.”

“I didn’t workout hard enough yesterday and so I’d better do double today.”

and So on.

But the problem with this mentality is that it is a self replicating problem, and discourages what I think is the ultimate virtue that being Habit.

Habit, and true habit, is kind. Now some will say you must be firm, and kindness is weakness, and trivial kindness can be a sort of weakness.

After all, is it truly kind to simply let yourself become fat? No, it’s not, and it’s a trivial sort of kindness, a short term sort of kindness that is confused with genuine kindness.

Genuine Kindness is to forgive the mistakes of the past and to simply resolve to show up, and do your best today.

Notice I said, forgive, not to forget, it’s important to remove stumbling blocks in the road, and to make the journey as easy as possible.

But the key, the ultimate key is to simply show up, and frankly that’s what most people need anyhow. Many a job or task simply needs a touch of human attention to run properly.

The world you see is quite boring in it’s growth. Even the most exciting events , avalanches, birth, and volcanic eruptions, are actually the final culmination of a million, million little actions taken over a period of time.

So, the key is to simply show up, and peruse that greater kindness. Each day take note of the past, and your failings and then put them aside.

If you ate poorly yesterday, eat well today, but just as well as you intended to yesterday, no more.

If you quit early exercising, exercise as much as you intended the day before and no more.

If you do force yourself to do more, your mind will inevitably, and quite subtly begin to see the task you want it to do as a punishment, and like all punishment will seek to avoid it.

If you further push yourself with negativity, you will catch your mind between two bad options, and well that is a very bad place for a mind to be. Learned helplessness is one hell of a drug.

So, to vastly simplify complex ideas, treat yourself as you’d want a kind father, mother, coach or authority figure to treat you. You can hold yourself to high standards, but when you fail, this kind figure steps in.

He or she says, “now, listen here, you failed to meet X goal, and that’s ok, but I know you can do it. So let’s just try our best today.”

While this is simple, if you’ve been negative to yourself, it can take a long time. That’s alright, keep trying, keep forgiving yourself, and keep showing up.

AFYM:Nihilism is a crutch

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Life is a tragedy.

We are born in an arbitrary, and unjust world.

We are raised into a world, if we are lucky we are taught love, only to come finally to the realization that everything, even your body will be torn from you.

This is the first half of most existentialists’ arguments, and where many a young person stumbles. They read this and tossing aside the difficult, and often cryptic words of a philosopher decry “NOTHING MATTERS!” and so they slink into the realm of the NEET.

Ultimately this is a mistake, because it is a false wisdom predicated not on life experience but the experience told to them by a far away authority figure. (many of which are hopelessly misunderstood, and in the second half of the work that is so casually tossed away find logic to refute Nihilism.)

The truth is Nihilism is most often unearned. “Nothing matters , god is dead, there is no point to anything”, goes the Nihilist, but go to any of those saying these things, and ask, “what have you done to prove or disprove this?”

ideas you see are sticky things, and people forget that at our core we are a very advanced animal that came from a much less advanced iteration. This iteration favors laziness and ease to all things, and Nihilism fits this bill perfectly.

“If Nothing matters? Well then I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to have any responsibilities. It’s not my fault, the world is inherently meaningless so I have no motivation.” is the line of logic, and it is a terribly convenient one too.

It is much more difficult to go out and test these “truths” than it is to simple accept them, and moreover it is a vast over estimation of the cognitive power of the self.

Can anyone really know if nothing matters? Do we know without a shadow of a doubt that the heat death of the universe will happen? OR that in that strange place after it there may be some change, some dissonance that starts everything? Or that there might not be some interaction from dimensions above?

We do not. To reject Nihilism, and for that matter all dogmas is to assert one’s own humility in the face of the unknown.

To paraphrase Socrates ” all I know is that I know nothing.” And there is some beauty in that.

AFYM: Habits

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Some of you don’t take care of yourself. You might argue that you are too busy helping others or maybe you imagine yourself not worthy, but there a few simple, yet difficult things to do every day.

The key is to form the habit. It sounds silly, but more than results you want to create a consistent habit of doing things and build from there .

When I started exercising, I wanted to run full out for 3 hours, but instead I started by just putting on my running shoes and walking 10 minutes around the block. Sounds weak right?

I Just kept showing up. I made it so ridiculously easy that I’d have no excuse not to show up, and I kept showing up.

Eventually, my body was like, well if were already here, and extended the walk time to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, Then it became run time, then it slowly added in body muscle and so on.

This is how i’ve gotten anything done in my life, slowly, but surely.

There will be days you will fail, that’s normal. The key is to simply pretend like it never happened. If you try and “make it up” you foster resentment.

You’ve got to be your own coach, firm but kind, who pushes you not under duress but out of the belief that you can, and will do better. Moreover, the belief that you deserve to be healthy, happy and accomplish your goals.

It’s a cliche, but showing up is the main hurdle, and once you’ve done that and established the habit you can build off that working model and make it better.

Whats the worst that can happen? You can always go back to nothing.

Beyond

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In the beginning there was everything. Complete, consistent, continual, experience in objective form all possibles in all universes.

There stood within this everything, something missing, an infinity outside, the infinity of subjective experience.

So everything began time, seeking itself from it self.

Thus, we began.

Heat became atoms, and we were the heat and the atoms, and the space between them. Atoms become molecules, and we became those droplets of water out in space.

And so forth and so on. We became the bacterium, and consumed ourselves each time we brought more tools of subjective reality gathering, forming DNA, forming more and more complex beings to touch the edges of subjective reality without ever wanting to touch infinity, because we were and still are infinity.

So we became conscious.

The first woman to ever bring forth her eyes by the fireside and looked around, at her brothers and wondered if they thought about the stars as she did. Here the loneliness of man began, as she lived and died maybe without knowing another creature who thought as she did.

And so on and so forth, even so now, we forget. We forget we all came from one place, and will go to one place, because we must forget in order to experience the grand lie.