Inner Child Dysfunctions

Do I have a language for these things? These mindless, useless things that I indulge in but are no good for me in the moment – or at least I know that there’s a better solution to my funk but I do them anyway; either out of habit, or because I’m bored, or frustrated, or down.

Whatever it is, I need a language for it, so next time I do something silly again, I can say, “there – another one of those.”

List of silly things I do:
1) open up a phone game in the morning when travelling, and when I’m too tired to do anything else. I think taking some time to meditate or reflect upon the day will be so much more useful.
2) wasting time looking through albums for something to listen to, instead of having a go-to list of songs-to-learn, or at the very least mood-relevant playlists.
3) starting a game of starcraft 2 without a gameplan, a skill I’d like to practice, or a goal whatsoever, and being emotionally invested. Not very good when you lose, and not even particularly good when you win.
4) nibble some snack/make coffee/buy unhealthy food in an indulgent manner whenever I’m tired and need energizing. I’d rather go to fruits or juice or something good for my body but you know, my inner kid wants all that.
5) brooding in moody thoughts instead of doing something productive about it. I think exercising, musicking, or taking a stroll would much better alternatives, even if the ruminating commentary still goes on in the background.

All these things aren’t particularly bad in themselves, but knowing the opportunity cost of these petty indulgences sorta makes it pretty painful to reflect upon. I think I shall call them inner-child dysfunctions, mostly because they tend to happen when some vital part of me is not being taken care of. Either not enough food, rest, socializing, or play.

I think instead of willing myself to enforce better habits when dysfunctions occur, a more effective way is to build a life around taking care of these needs, and then it’d be much easier to make a better choice.

I suppose inner child dysfunctions are signs of poor management in the past rather than indicators of necessary !immediate action in the present – it’s way tempting to go “okay I’m gonna force myself to do exercise/eat better food/meditate instead of whatever” but the energy required to force yourself in the right here and now has to come from somewhere. Even worse, a sudden forceful will applied to an already malfunctioning aspect of the self might associate negative feelings to the activity in question, which damages future endeavours. Is rolling it right in the present so important that you risk your future development over it?

I don’t think so.

Of course it’ll be good not to let everything go south, the inner child also needs to be quite firmly disciplined. So perhaps a well-balanced way out of this predicament is to let yourself fail within limits, and institute placeholder habits instead of giving up entirely (indulge in some snacks, but also throw in a couple of fruits!). Ultimately to think long term and give myself space to fight another day will be on my agenda. Plus of course, to make sure that I am moving towards a better future instead of repeating old mistakes, otherwise I’m just buying time for more dysfunction.

All in all, I suppose these inner-child dysfunctions are quite a common place occurence to everyone. How do you deal with it? I’ll be curious to know.

Meanwhile, I shall attempt to regulate indulgences every now (an important step in avoiding plateauing of growth, or flat-lining of expectations), but an overall plan to take care of those deeper needs in a healthy manner is the right way to go.

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Radical Joy

Garden Fountain

Having recently made a post about sadness, I thought it fit that I explore its emotional counter-pole. In my experience, grief and gladness can be likened to the cycles of day and night; one comes after the other without fail, and sometimes in surprising degrees. In darkness, the first rays of light delight us, in occupation of day, we are shocked by the quick passage of time – it is evening again. Likewise gladness and sorrow take over each other like the sun and the moon upon the night scape. But perhaps much like the oft-cited Ying and Yang symbol, even in stark darkness the sun’s light is reflected from the moon, and in the peak of day, shadows are its darkest; hence a measure of joy exists in overwhelming sadness, maybe in the form of hope, and a touch of sadness exists in exuberant joy, especially when we begin to acknowledge its temporal nature.

But a temporary joy is not near to our conceptions of True Joy, or what I’ll call in this post, Radical Joy. That which is radical diverges from the norm, splits itself off from the body of usual occurrences and constructs for itself a unique, and even isolated milieu in which to exist. If we were to equate joy with ordinary gladness, we would mistake its true potential with its diluted forms. Indeed, I propose that our usual experiences of gladness is far removed from the radical, as much as its radical form is furtively concealed away from the usual. Our normal notions of happiness requires the world to bend to our whims, but this Radical Joy persists in the midst of that eternal contradiction between reality and dreams. Our petty constructs of what will make us content cannot stand in the face of a peerless, ultimately unreasonable Joy, Joy that stubbornly digs deep into the crevices of our souls, and remains planted and firm, refusing to budge whilst all our petty notions of happiness get blown away by the vicissitudes of living, like burnt grass in the wind.

This is a Joy that I believe all of us may have had the fortune of experiencing at least once in our entire lifetimes: That moment when everything seems perfect even when we know it is not, when our entirety of experience and existence converge into the event-horizon of contentment. Nothing could escape that all-consuming Joy. No, we did not bubble in exuberant gladness, nor were we scattered and wild in our heart’s throbbing. Far from it; we were calm, collected, at peace, but all gloom and negativity burnt in the purifying fire of such a radical Joy. Worries could not co-exist in the same time-space of its transformative presence. Sad thoughts were even welcome and became fuel for that transcending fire.

Yet, as great as it seems, as powerful as that moment, or series of moments was for us, it appears that we often let it escape our grasp. From its hiding hole it emerged, back into its abode the creature slinks away. Even if the conception of such a Radical, Law-breaking Joy exists in our minds, or better yet, our souls, the majority of our experiences do not affirm the existence of this fabled unicorn – we forget, we deny, we blunder. We settle for a mediocre joy, one that is dependent on conditions, and satisfaction of wants, and as fragile as a dried twig under a school boy’s boot. We let go of the radical – at least until the next time, when something prods us, and we open up our hearts to let in the unicorn, the all-purifying fire, the great, imperturbable tree of life: Radical Joy itself.

Instead of waiting for reminders to catapult us into that state of divine, blissful contentment, I’d suggest another way to enter that brilliant mindspace as a matter of habit. One element of that mystical type of joy includes an all-embracing thankfulness towards every single mundane thing. It is not our default state to maintain a level of thankfulness; like water flows to lower ground, so our focus of attention tends towards the areas of lack in our lives. Do you remember those days where you wake up in a fantastically good mood, and it feels like nothing is going to get you down? Well, a few hours into work, a flurry of difficult challenges come your way, and ploof! The clouds you were walking on disappears – it’s back to ground zero buddy.

However don’t get me wrong. I’m not interested in advancing an ideology where we guard against anything that disrupts our state of mind, that is obssessed with maintaining a rigidly unrealistic form of happy-denial. Instead, we must first acknowledge the changing nature of the world, and the cyclic nature of our moods. We must let go and let our emotions be, feeling them thoroughly. But likewise we cannot be like seafarers overcome by waves – skillfully we must ride it and surf. Part of this surfing includes choosing to act and think in ways that gently nudges our emotions towards the direction that we so desire. To be angry, act angrily, think angry thoughts. To be sad, fill your mind with melancholic musings. To be joyful, the answer is as simple – in every single mundane thing, find a reason to be glad, to give thanks, to rejoice.

If you can read this, your eyes are working. Rejoice! Look at the beautiful shades and colours that make up this splendid world. Look at the pleasing forms and shapes that tickle the eye and give taste to the visual experience. Let your heart be delighted with the play of light and shadows in the material world around you. Then let your attention sink into the deeper emotional world within. Be glad that you have the space and time to reflect. Think about all the challenges you have faced so far, and how you have overcome them somehow. Recall how you have access to the simple mundane things that enable you to use the internet and make sense of this post. Food that you may at times take for granted, clean water that comes easily, electricity, shelter from the wind and rain, a hug from loved ones. Let all these little oft-ignored things form the texture of your experience; let it be the very air you breathe. In this mode of thankfulness, joy will descend upon you like a butterfly, and like a butterfly you will let it sit, knowing that it may lift from its perch and take flight at any time – and you will let it, with not one strain of resistance. Why grasp upon that which is ephemeral, and more importantly, a state which you can enter into at any time?

So I suggest, while we let the madness and sadness of life wash over us when they may, let us also choose, when we can, to enter into Radical Joy. All we need to do is to be absolutely grateful and gladdened by every mundane thing possible, an exercise that sounds simple, but is as challenging as can be. While we may never truly sustain that temporal state of mind, the fact is that our practice will enable us to build a deep well of imperturbable gladness within – whirlwinds may assault us, but still we can access its tranquility and rejuvenatory power. We can cry, or get angry, or go crazy, yet the fountain remains. That is the very essence of Radical Joy.

It’s been awhile ain’t it?

So I’ve been going to school, and trading forex on the side, and heck has it been tiring.

My half-finished novel has been collecting dust somewhere in the cloud servers because I haven’t been writing for about 2 weeks, and frankly, I’m not going to start any time soon. Why? Because I feel that I need to sort out my schedule with school first!

Sometimes life throws you too many curve balls (with the up and down of foreign exchange, you can’t ever expect too many), and you need to have something down before you move other things around, don’t you agree?

But I don’t know. I’m actually pulling this out of my ass, and hoping that I’ll go somewhere with it. All I know is that once I’ve settled my study schedule, I’ll be able to see where it is realistic to squeeze in blocks of writing time. And then, and there, I will do my writing.

Is there a chance I’ll put it off until the end of time? Possibly.¬† But like the clich√©d butterfly love advice – let it go; if it comes back, it’s mine. So that’s what I’ll do exactly, for now at least. Because I’ve got a feeling that this writing thing loves me more than I love it, and when the time’s right, I’ll write again.

Accept the Weak You

Cliff Sunset

Let’s face it – none of us are how we want to be.

Dang it, we could be fitter, richer, wiser; could have traveled the world more; could met more people; but we aren’t, and we haven’t.

So what to do about it? Not all of us are as privileged to be born in high society, or given great education, or granted opportunities to network with high-fliers.

No, a lot of us in fact, are very normal people. Although sometimes, there are days when we think we are actually less than that even.

Yet, there are people, who are almost as ordinary as us, if not more, who managed to get¬†there, whatever it means to us. Perhaps they are living off a great passive income now, or they’re in a beautiful, committed relationship with a wonderful, loving person, or their bodies are so fit, they can eat anything and burn it off it the next 10 minutes (I wish I had that!).

But whatever level of living it is that they have attained, which means just so much to us, we aren’t there yet. Maybe we’ve got a taste of it, or a glimpse, or a hazy reflection. That’s the thing that got us going in the first place. But from our standpoint, if we look forward and upward to that goal, we gulp at the amount of work¬†to do, and we think – hell, how will we¬†ever¬†get there?

And a harder question to ask: if¬†they¬†got there, why haven’t we?

The answer is painful, but simple.

We’re weak. We cop out more often than we care to admit. We skimp on the finer details, and give up on the higher benchmarks more frequently than we should. We reach for the stars, stretch our limits, and dig to our depths much less than we know we ought to. Looking at the mirror of what we’ve done and who we are,¬†we hate ourselves.

We hate ourselves because we long to be much more.

And yet, is that our best decision? Pain is a prime motivator to move, and nothing gets us off our butt more than a fervent hatred of staying at where we are.

But what if we moved because we know we are weak? What if we did more because we accept that we are weaker? What if we worked harder because we embrace the fact that life has dealt us a difficult hand?

Thankfully life is so much more than a game of poker, because if we pulled our socks up and chipped away at the boulder blocking our path, we’re going to end up with a clear, clean road. We’re going to end up with a clear, clean road and¬†more muscles¬†than the guy who was born with a bulldozer. We’re going to end up with a clear, clean road and¬†more endurance¬†than the gal who had the road cleared out for her by a troop of men with power drills.

They may be blazing off ahead, but by no means are we actually behind them. By no means did we end up in a worse position, simply because we had no choice but to chip away the boulder with our hammer and chisel.

No, instead you emerge more than victorious, for by conquering your natural weakness, your natural fear, your natural roadblocks in life, by having done the low and dirty work, taking the slow and steady path, you have grown far stronger than yourself, if that were even possible.

You look in the mirror and you don’t hate yourself anymore. Why? Because you accepted the weaker you. You pulled your socks up and dug deep. You did the work. Your work.

Now accept the strong you.