Talking to Myself

If an uncomfortable, unpleasant situation persists in your life for a significant amount of time, the important thing to remember is that this situation would not have been possible without your active enabling. If you keep finding yourself in the same kind of victimhood, it means you need this victimhood for some reason. If people keep leeching off of you, if somebody continuously acts as a parasite towards you, this means you have enabled them and keep doing it because this is what you need. Without analyzing the roots of this need, the problem will not be resolved.

Anxiety and guilt devour our energy. The causes of anxiety and guilt are always internal. If we choose to retain them in our lives, it means they serve important purposes for us. Some of these purposes might be precisely to rob ourselves of energy because change and progress might be terrifying.

Today I declare the day of getting ourselves of parasites that devour our lives, our energy, our sense of self. Who is your parasite, and what profound need leads you to keep saddling yourself with him or her?

26 thoughts on “Talking to Myself

  1. I need to stop reading stupid/hateful bloggers. They do not deserve to get me angry.

    I will stop reading their blogs. As an open minded person I will still read the opposing point of view, but only from authors who have proven they are intelligent and hate-free.

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  2. I understand what you are saying and how it can be very useful to reason in this way, but I think it is one-sided. While a lot of the time we allow unpleasant patterns into our lives, some of these patterns are genuinely “out there” and the reason we can tell that is they affect us at a material level.

    How is your view (apart from its assured intellectual QUALITY) different from that of Oprah and her followers? You both appear to hold that the fundamental problems of life reside all in our heads and that by various mechanisms of thought we can transcend them.

    My experience is that life is more complicated than the either-or paradigm of “active enabling” (as the cause of personal anguish) would allow.

    Consider, for instance, my situation. My father fights for our preservation in terms of the historically prevalent extreme, right wing ideology, which turns out, from a historical perspective, to be wrong. I end up siding with his earnestness and commitment (perhaps even bravery?) in fighting, whilst holding that overall, he was wrong. The consequent state of division of me against myself almost destroys me.

    Is it because I “wanted” it this way? Absolutely not!

    But, history, being what it is, contains ambiguities and afflicts us with ambivalences.

    If only the answer were so simple as renouncing cockroaches, we’d all be fine.

    That isn’t so, because history itself does not occur on a plain of perfection. It’s a hell of a lot more complicated than we might wish.

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    1. You know that I can’t analyze your personal situation. You do seem to say that you made a choice to support your father against your own beliefs, but I don’t know enough about the situation to form a more profound opinion about it.

      And of course, if Oprah believes that right now it’s November, I’ll have to agree with her, even if it makes me sound unoriginal.

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  3. bloggerclarissa :
    You know that I can’t analyze your personal situation. You do seem to say that you made a choice to support your father against your own beliefs, but I don’t know enough about the situation to form a more profound opinion about it.
    And of course, if Oprah believes that right now it’s November, I’ll have to agree with her, even if it makes me sound unoriginal.

    It’s not a criticism, Clarissa. I think you are doing great — even though we are going in opposite directions. I think you are a fine person!

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  4. For me, it’s not so much a parasite as it is an annoyance, a couple of people I have to see often at social functions who get on my nerves.
    But I am trying to remember something my Dad told me once, where he said, “There are billions of people on earth, there’s no reason to let one or two of them ruin your day.” It’s a good mental exercise to just repeat that in my head when dealing with difficult or obnoxious people.

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  5. Hmm my parasite… a fellow graduate student- the most incompetent and uncreative scientist I know. And lazy to boot. I held his hand through about a year of coursework and basically designed the main algorithm of his thesis for him, including sketching out how to optimally program it. I guess I was trying to be a helpful colleague, but I eventually realized I was spending way too much of my time helping him, and was getting nothing in return, so I stopped.

    Except yesterday I caved after a good two years of minimal help. He happened to catch me while I was bored and procrastinating for then minutes before I had to leave… and once again I end up basically writing the main statistical analysis for part of his project. *sigh* At least this help wasn’t a major drain on my time.

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  6. But what if you parasite is a chronic illness in your body? Something that you neither want nor got it “on purpose” (e.g. it might be inherited through no fault of your own or anyone else), and while it is not lethal, there is no cure for it. And every time you think it’s stabilised, it comes back with a bang.

    Then, however much you think, you really don’t have any choice as anxiety is always present. And when you are in chronic pain, there’s hardly any choice on controlling how you feel about the situation either.

    So then what?

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    1. I believe that everything we allow to reside in our lives and our bodies serves a purpose for us. The important thing is to identify what that purpose is. Take me, for example. I’m and autistic and have a chronic hypertension. I have been able to identify the reasons why I desperately need to be both these things. The first one of them I accepted because it brings me more positive than negative consequences. The second one I don’t enjoy, so I’m trying to address the underlying causes for it.

      I don’t think that illness, any illness just happens. By looking at psychological causes of my medical conditions I managed to restore my eyesight in a way that makes ophthalmologists gasp in shock and got rid of acid reflux disease.

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  7. I have to disagree a little with the chronic illness–perhaps because I was born with my hip problems so there’s little I can do to make it go away. But I do agree there are things that get worse with stress–for example, my hip feels worse with stress. So while I can’t change that my hip sits in a different place than it should, I can decide how I manage my stress which can lessen the pain most of the time. (Sometimes the damn thing just moves out of place and i’ve been advised not to move it back myself.)

    However, that wasn’t the parasite I wanted to write about…mine is very clearly my depression. Likely genetic, but I can certainly make choices in how I deal with it. Daily struggle and I know when I let it get the best of me. I think it’d be wise to surround myself with understanding people but I’m still not sure how to talk about it.

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    1. I once heard depression described as 30% genetic and 70% environmental, but you had to have both conditions to end up in depression. i.e., just carrying the genes, you are far from guaranteed to suffer from depression, but the right situation will bring it out.

      It’s a tough one since part of feeling depressed is not feeling like you can do anything about it, but if we can’t control our genetics, I think your approach to managing your environment is the best course of action. Good luck :-/

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      1. I don’t think it’s genetic, I think it’s learned. And I think a lot of it is environmental but I don’t think bad environments can be cured with correct management. I think one needs to unlearn what one was taught, perhaps very early on, and also escape
        bad environments.

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  8. From my shamanistic perspective, which I developed through writing my thesis, there are no guarantees in life whatsoever. That should be the fundamental proposition of my shamanism. Secondly, I concur with Clarissa’s note in this comments thread, that often we can find the cause of our illnesses by getting to the root of the problem ourselves. Our illness can and should teach us something. Nonetheless, in remaining with my proposition concerning the disinterested nature of the universe, many events happen to us, including illnesses, which are not within our range to cure. Shamanism radically departs from conventional “spiritual” cures in that it refuses to take its cue from the sick priest — the one described by Nietzsche in Genealogy of Morals. So, “taking responsibility” of ones illnesses — if this responsibility implies first and foremost MORAL responsibility — is rejected for its epistemological falseness. Almost always, sickness originates outside of oneself. If one is powerful enough, one can reverse its effect. That is shamans of all ages are supposed to do. But, whether or not one can do it is a matter of personal power in its broadest sense and not a matter of one’s moral fiber or otherwise.

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  9. profacero@gmail.com :
    I don’t think it’s genetic, I think it’s learned. And I think a lot of it is environmental but I don’t think bad environments can be cured with correct management. I think one needs to unlearn what one was taught, perhaps very early on, and also escape
    bad environments.

    Yes. I’m very much against the idea that humans are inclined to be biologically or spiritually or what have you “flawed” and that we should just go along with this. As I said before, it seems to me that there are two sides to the dichotomy of morality in Western culture. The right wing side says: “Take responsibility for your own failures!” (This can be similar in many ways to the injunction of the “ascetic priest” who demands one direct ressentiment inwards and against oneself.) The opposite side of the same moral dichotomy says: “The source of all my problems lie outside of myself.” This is equally false.

    In general, both sides are false, because both involve moral reasoning, rather than a genuine philosophical understanding about causality.

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  10. Jennifer, are you familiar with this post-Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky? I had never paid attention to him but my students got into him so now I know a lot more. He has all this work on shamanic style healing, not all of which you’d agree with 100% I don’t think, but it’s quite interesting. The film Santa Sangre is all about quasi shamanic healing and the dvd now out of it (avail. on netflix, I don’t know if to Australia) has a lot of interviews with the actors, very interesting.

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  11. profacero@gmail.com :
    Jennifer, are you familiar with this post-Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky? I had never paid attention to him but my students got into him so now I know a lot more. He has all this work on shamanic style healing, not all of which you’d agree with 100% I don’t think, but it’s quite interesting. The film Santa Sangre is all about quasi shamanic healing and the dvd now out of it (avail. on netflix, I don’t know if to Australia) has a lot of interviews with the actors, very interesting.

    santa sangre left a lasting impression on me many years ago. It totally freaked me out as well.

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  12. Santa Sangre is extraordinarily and exorbitantly violent. Then again, so is much of Marechera’s writing, which I deem to be shamanistic. Violence and shamanism seem to be inseparable, insomuch as life itself is not free from violence.

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