There’s nothing sexy about a disclaimer, but it is how I am choosing to bypass what would be countless paragraphs of telling my story just to catch up my readers as to why I paid the $100ish WordPress Premium Annual Fee for this Blog site. In other words, I offer this disclaimer in place of my life story up to this point. These posts will not describe my personal Big Bang – the story of what has stuck together and what has not, the getting caught in the orbits of others, the wishing on stars whose light was all memory, and the attempts to control the enemy that is entropy. It has taken me a long time to write for anyone besides myself because writing has been my way of expending energy without having to take care of anyone else’s feelings or teach anyone anything. Writing for myself has somehow makes it okay to feel and to think, kind of like Santa Clause makes it okay for kids to receive.
There are no upcoming self-help exercises. This is not because I don’t value healing strategies or solutions. I’ve spent the past twenty years in helping professions – as a Social Worker, Life Coach, Psychotherapist and Yoga Teacher or in graduate schools and doctoral programs in their pursuit. But sometimes we gain clarity by understanding what not to do, especially when we are most confused. The end game is clarity, not just in brief moments or when hormones and checkbooks are balanced. Optimal living is a function of consistent clarity, and the opposite of clarity is confusion.
Confusion is arguably much harder to tolerate than dislike. For this reason, we “hedge our bets” and instruct ourselves to expect the worst outcome, with or without supporting facts, only to experience two disappointments – the disappointment at being disappointed and the original disappointment itself. Consider for a moment a time when you hoped for an outcome and it did not go your way. Now rewind to the time just before you were aware of the undesired outcome. Were you telling yourself not to be disappointed if you didn’t like the result, that it wasn’t such a big deal, that you would have other opportunities or you never had a chance to begin with? If so, do you believe that preparing yourself for the bad outcome actually made that outcome more palatable? It did not.
What if you had allowed excitement and hope in the possibility of what you desired and were hugely disappointed? You still would have had to tolerate an outcome you did not like but without undermining yourself for making the effort or taking a risk. That period of not knowing, the ‘in–between‘, is more uncomfortable than the actual undesired outcome, and there are many tools to learn to use towards tolerating what is uncomfortable. The field of mindfulness and integrated health practices offer considerable resources for increasing one’s presence during transitions and tolerating what is beyond one’s immediate control.
I have valued my career in psychodynamic integrative health, in harnessing the conscious and subconscious towards clarity. Regarding both our minds and our bodies, learning to tolerate what is uncomfortable is the definition of maturity. Discomfort is different than pain. Discomfort is a state that can be lessened by sustaining it. Pain, on the other hand, means ‘stop’. It is the signal to change course now. So mental health is basically a measure of the differential in one’s ability to accurately transmit the messages of pain and of discomfort from brain to body and to respond logically and consistency.
But I believe there is more to life than tolerating discomfort and avoiding pain and even seeking pleasure. This blog, my friends, is for those who have stepped figuratively in shit again and again and who have learned to tolerate the smell of shit while standing on one foot and scraping out what can be removed from the deepest grooves in the other shoe. All while apologizing to those who notice the shit and just stare, often taking some pleasure in the whole scene from a safe distance (#shadenfreude). If you are someone who is fixated on finding out who left the pile of shit or who made the shit and you hope to exact some sort of justice, this blog is not for you.
I will not be forensically analyzing shit to uncover it’s culprit or suggesting ways to clean it or cover up the smell. I am not concerned at this time with understanding why certain people are drawn towards certain piles of shit. I will not delve into shit left by mothers and fathers or by angry children disguised as grown-ups. Since it’s a fair assumption that people don’t much enjoy stepping in shit, it follows that any attempt to prevent this outcome must address ‘confusion.’ To advise anyone on where to step next is beyond the scope of my expertise. But where not to step – I have something to say about that.