South Slope. Asheville.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Many people appear to be psychologically crippled - overcome with fear, doubt, self-loathing, resentment and all the other self-defeating negatives that come to mind.  I'm not talking about the normal ups and downs that we face due to life's blows - death of a spouse, losing a job, getting injured, etc..  Certainly not that.  I'm talking more about a sustained pattern or presence in a person's life that's clearly seen by others.  If you hear lots of people say, "That person is always negative" or "He seems to be always be angry" or "She's always needing attention", there's likely something there.  You could come up with a thousand more examples.  You might even see characteristics of a person's psychological state in how they treat their bodies.  Are they abusing themselves with food and drugs or neglecting their sleep? It could be seen in their relationships.  A better test would be what your gut tells about how you're living and how you're interpreting life around you.  Unless it's deeply repressed or you're a sociopath, you should feel something.  Again, I'm talking about a consistent pattern over the span of a person's life - not those moments where we slip and fall, and then get back up and regain our footing.
The causes of people's afflictions, real or not, are many.  Some of it could be the result of the environment people live in, some of could be innate and other times it's simply a combination of factors, some more obvious than others.  There could be people around us that bring us down, or we could be a part of institutions and cultures that actually benefit from keeping individuals or sub-groups from reaching their potential.  We could just live in cultures where most people live in a depressed state and have a self-defeating belief system that inevitably, by virtue of existing within it, affects us.  It can also just be overwhelming circumstances that just make it hard for people to keep their heads above water - financial pressures, work stress, family dysfunction, social obligations - contribute to feelings of unending pessimism, constant worry and paralyzing fear.

To make matters worse, people often times deal with the tension and frustration in their lives by finding and blaming scapegoats.  It could be a spouse, it could be children, it could be the Jews, it could be a political party, it could be yourself, it could be parents, it could be your past, it could be another race, it could be terrorists, it could be an ex, anything.  I heard someone say once that their inability to stay committed to walking for exercise and weight loss was because of the devil, and that other folks back at the church felt that too.  They kind of laughed about it when they said it, but it still said something about the need to find something to blame.  When you can't put your finger on it, there's always the greatest scapegoat, the devil.

My belief is that the degree that a person is psychologically crippled will inevitably reveal itself in his/her self-confidence.  I also believe strongly that people may not be able to completely transform their lives, but they certainly can make them better.  And once you're on that path, a real transformation then can become a distinct possibility.  But you have to start where you are, and just move forward. And it doesn't have to be something you do on your own.  We do need support in life.

Here's one way to get started:
Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."  How is examining your own life going to propel you forward?  And how will the simple art of asking questions help you in this endeavor? Let's start by enjoying this segment of a documentary hosted by Alain de Botton.

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