[Habits of Confusion] 5. Unclear Wants and Needs

Another thing that seems to affect clarity of thought is losing sight of the things we want and need. Sometimes we tend to get so absorbed by what other people want and need or we get so concerned about what the right thing to do is in a situation that we forget about what interests us. This often leads to self-sabotage, self-sacrifice, overthinking and frustration and it ends up being confusing not only to ourselves but also to those around us. It’s difficult for people to know how to react when we aren’t consistent in our behavior and when our intentions are unclear. But bringing awareness to this fact and understanding the importance of keeping in touch with the things we want and need can help us make better decisions and express ourselves better.

I started writing this article because of something that happened recently. I was selling a dress on the Romanian equivalent of ebay and someone wrote to me about a week ago that they wanted to buy it, let’s call this person Person A. When I asked them about how we were going to do the shipping,  Person A seemed unsure about how to proceed next. A couple of times they said they’d think about it and get back to me and they didn’t seem sure about the whole thing. In the meantime I got a message from somebody else, Person B, who was sure they wanted to buy my item. I decided to ask Person A if they wanted to reserve the dress, yet when I saw that I didn’t get an answer the next day, I agreed to sell it to Person B. Soon after this happened, I got an answer from Person A that they agreed to reserve my item. I had to tell them I had already sold it. *Long sigh* Right here I started wondering…. did I do the right thing? What is the right thing to do here? Yet I found that a more important question was… ‘how did this happen?’

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Vortex of Creation by Eduardo Rodriguez Calzado

I found the answer to be threefold:

  1. I rush things. I want to find a resolution too soon.
  2. I forget about what I want.
  3. I am not transparent with people. I keep too much to myself.

The first was clear, since I didn’t even wait 24h to get an answer back. I felt pressured by having to answer to Person B person in reasonable time, a pressure I conjured up myself that was completely unnecessary.

The second manifested as me not considering what I wanted to do. The first person lived in the same city as I did, a bit on the outskirts. I wanted to meet so that I could give the dress personally, but they seemed unsure about when and where they were going to do that. Person B was from another city and I had to use a paid shipping method to send the dress to them, so clearly I would have preferred the first option. However, I didn’t give much weight to this fact, since I was too worried about what the right thing to do was.

The third thing manifested as me not telling Person B that I had a prior engagement and that they had to wait for a confirmation. Many times it is important to be transparent about the situation you are in. People can be more understanding than you’d expect.

Edit: What happened in the end was that Person B postponed the transaction until it just didn’t happen so in the end I didn’t sell my dress.

The state of confusion we find ourselves in can be like sending mixed signals to the world and the world does not know how to respond to that. If you don’t know what to ask for or how to ask for it, then the world doesn’t know what to give you. It’s like a dance between two partners who don’t know how to synchronize their movements, because neither is clear about what steps they want to take. Even though you may aim for an artistic choreography and conscious intelligent movement, what can result instead is awkward stumbling because of uncertain intentions. It’s like not seeing how puzzle pieces match or like the Yin and the Yang disengaged from each other, not acting in unison, but as separate, independent forces.

So… it is good to ask sometimes… what do I want? And then tell the world about it. Or show the world, or live it. Your intentions, wants and needs are your own magnetic field, the more they concentrate in your words and actions, the easier it is to be recognized by others who live the same things or on the contrary, by those who don’t. Expressing who you are is like electrifying your field which can stir that which resonates with it.

I recently signed up for a course in Scriptwriting. The guy teaching the course said something that made an impression on me. He said that in a movie we want as a protagonist someone who wants something ardently, someone who is driven, because that is what is interesting to watch. He said that nobody wants to watch a passive main character and that the audience is engaged with the story when the main character wants something really badly and perseveres in getting it throughout the story. That made an impact on me and it made me feel a bit ashamed because most of the things I want are too abstract and undefined to give me an idea of what direction I’m going in.

But I believe that in clarifying the things we want, in defining our purposes, even if at first they take the form of small goals like cleaning the kitchen or getting a haircut, that can build a momentum of intention which can in turn become the vehicle through which we make bigger positive changes in our lives. I find that making lists helps and journaling helps and setting short term and long term goals helps also. But the most important part is – just like the scriptwriting instructor said – perseverance, the capacity to keep moving forward in spite of the difficulties we encounter (most often through our self-defeating attitudes) and find a way to do that which matters to us.

At first we may be uncertain about the things we are pursuing or that we want to pursue, but we can recognize within us the desire to fulfill a certain mission, to dedicate ourselves to a certain endeavor, even if it may be subtle in the beginning. This recognition, as faint as it may be, can become the foundation on which we build our visions. We may not have a clear outline of the things we want to do, but as long as we are willing to overcome all the obstacles that we find within ourselves which prevent us from manifesting our potentials, as long as we take responsibility and stop finding excuses about why we are not succeeding, we may just have the chance to bring our visions to reality.

“We are not a helpless victim of our circumstances. We all have within us the power to make that to which we are committed happen.

When we have circumstantial reasons why we could not keep our commitment, usually it is because our commitment was not authentic.

We manifest our commitment if it is authentic. Therefore, when we want to know what a person is truly committed to, what we need to do is to look at his/her action and result, not what he/she says.

Inauthentic commitment comes from your mind, your socially conditioned mind. Living your life with the pretense of inauthentic commitment is a form of deception and irresponsibility.

Your conditioned mind thinks that you should be committed to something worthy or good to prove your self-worth. The idea of doing something great or participating in some good cause makes you feel worthy and therefore you think that you should do it.

Nothing that is intended to make you feel worthy or good is ever a genuine commitment coming from your heart and soul. True commitment has nothing to do with proving your worth, greatness, goodness, or virtue.

Authentic commitment is the creative expression of who you are—i.e., your authentic self. When you are truly committed, you will never try to prove how worthy, good, or great you are but will be moved from within to creatively express your soul’s passion and your heart’s love.”

~ Yasuhiko Genku Kimura

Now, I intended to end this article right there but then I went to the second lesson of the Scriptwriting course where I learned another important principle that I want to share. We had been assigned a homework of writing five movies ideas and sending them to our instructor via email. The ideas had to be written a specific way, each had to be one phrase that would contain three important pieces of information: who the protagonist was, what his problem was (the conflict) and a hint to a potential solution. The instructor went through all of our ideas during class and offered important criticism to each one of us about the way we phrased our premises, since he said that most movies fail from the premise stage. Then he said something that, again, made an impact on me. He said that the main character has to have a GOOD REASON to do something. He said that the objective of the main character must come after a major problem and that a character cannot just do something without a GOOD REASON. The audience wouldn’t be as engaged in the story.

That made perfect sense and I love a good idea that has many ramifications. I reflected upon it and I realized that the motivations for doing something, the reason for initiating any action – and I mean in real life – frames the way we will relate to that experience once it happens. It’s like that experiment with the selective attention test where two groups of people wearing different colored T-shirts pass the ball to each other and you have to count how many times the team in white passed the ball, but then at the end of the video you are asked “did you see the gorilla?” and you didn’t because you weren’t actively seeking for it.

 

So… if you don’t know your reasons, then where will your focus be? I often find myself distracted in situations where I don’t know my reasons for being there or where my reasons are too abstract and I start placing my attention on my fears, which isn’t very productive. It’s good to give the mind something to focus on, like letting your kids play on the PlayStation because you have some important work to attend to. It’s like, OK, amuse yourself with this just for a bit, while I deal with this other thing. Or maybe more like, OK brain, I’ll gather the information, but you organize it and link it with our whys.

“We live within a framework that defines the present as eternally lacking and the future as eternally better. If we did not see things this way, we would not act at all. We wouldn’t even be able to see, because to see we must focus, and to focus we must pick one thing above all else on which to focus.”

– Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life

Lastly, this Pathwork Lecture (No. 74) explains hazy motivations and how to dissolve them:

All suffering comes from ignorance, from lack of wanting to face the truth. Therefore, those who honestly do this work must ultimately, in one way or another, affect those who are still submerged in unawareness about themselves and also about their relationship to the entire universe. Those of you who walk this path so courageously should know that all of us in the spirit world thank you for your efforts, not only on our behalf, but on behalf of all other beings.

And now, my friends, I should like to say a few words which may prove helpful for those of you who struggle and try, but always encounter new difficulties within themselves. These words may help you to overcome them and give you a clearer overall view. Such clarification is often necessary at certain stages of your path.

One of the most important things in the course of this work is to recognize when you are confused about a particular subject. Perhaps a confusion exists in you and you do not even know about what. I can see a great need for elaborating on this subject.

You know from our previous talks that any inner problem, in one way or another, manifests as an outer problem sooner or later. The outer problem is the result of the inner one and, at the same time, it can become the tool with which to correct the wrong attitudes which create both the inner and the outer problem. When outer manifestations occur that make you feel disharmonious, unpleasant, anxious or angry, you often forget that there is some confusion in you. You do not know exactly what the confusion is or what is incorrect in your conscious or unconscious thinking.

I cannot emphasize too strongly that you need first to find out exactly what the confusion is. Whenever something bothers you, be it merely a mood, an unpleasant inner reaction, or an actual outer happening apparently caused by other people, try to find out how you are confused; how your thoughts are muddled; how you are not clear about an idea, a supposedly right reaction, about a principle of general conduct. Ascertain if there is a contradiction of right principles. Put this confusion down concisely, in writing:  “I am confused because I do not know…” whatever it may be. Break it down into several questions. The more concise your questions are, the more aware you will become of exactly what your confusion is.

Writing contributes most constructively toward eliminating the confusion, even long before you are able to find the exact answers to your questions. If you then pray for the answers and work with the questions — at the same time checking your inner resistance to receiving the answers — you will make great advances and prepare for most important new insights that will give you new freedom. My friends, never forget the importance of becoming aware of your questions concerning a particular complexity, problem, or confusion. The moment you have the concise question clearly crystallized, you will already feel relief. You will have smoothed the way toward complete clarification.

You who have progressed a little on this path should now stop for a moment and turn around to get an overall view, just as the climber occasionally does when making an ascent. While going forward, your glance is directed toward a particular or partial goal on the way. In doing so, you may forget the distance already covered, the obstacles surmounted, and lose the encompassing view of the whole picture. It is very useful to turn around occasionally and make an overall survey of the terrain.

I say this now with a particular aim. Once again you should investigate what your main problems in life are, but with a more comprehensive view. Write the problems down concisely, describing in clear-cut words whatever area of your life they may deal with. With your findings so far, you may now be in a better position than when you started on the path to determine that wherever your aim is confused and your life-goal muddled with mixed motivations, is where you will find the troublesome area of your life. This recognition will do much to help you further.

The deep-rooted emotional reactions brought to light always show the child operating in you. And that child is self-centered and ignorant. Out of this self-centeredness and ignorance selfish motives arise, unconsciously or sometimes even half-consciously. You are unclear as to what you want in life, or in a particular area of your life. You drift, and all goals are in a fog of confusion and unawareness. Even genuinely unselfish motives are not expressed clearly in your thinking. Whenever or wherever such a condition exists, you are bound to have difficulties, unfulfillment and frustration. The difficulties may either be outer obstacles, or if outer obstacles are not yet on the horizon, you may inwardly feel ill at ease, guilty, tense, full of anxiety or impatience. In other words, even if for the time being things go well outwardly, your inner peace is lacking in this area of your life.

Whenever such condition exists, your motives must be mixed with unconscious selfish motives that produce the negative result. Survey your life once again. See exactly where you have either manifest problems, or inner feelings of anxiety or disharmony. Then check out what your motives really are. Look behind the apparent positive outer appearances. Use your findings, your images and wrong conclusions. Try to crystallize out of them any negative or confused motives and apply them to the trouble area. Or determine if you perhaps have drifted into a certain course without even knowing whether you wanted this particular goal or why you wanted it. Such indetermination is often more damaging than clear-cut negative motives and may apply to any area of life, like professional fulfillment, marriage, or friendship. Indetermination may create tension and conflict in a particular personal relationship.

Check your real motivations behind the conscious ones. Check whether or not you have a clear-cut aim. Check your reason for living. What is your purpose in life?  What do you want it to be, apart from developing yourself to the best of your ability?  Then see what you really want. Why do you want it?  Beware of the error that one motivation necessarily excludes another. You know this is not so. Try to be honest with yourself, in this respect as well as in any other. The relief and the reward you will get from honest answers to your own questions will be tremendous, regardless how negative the answers may prove to be.

One of the most outstanding features of such a procedure will be that the moment you recognize your lack of clear-cut motivations, or the presence of destructive ones, you will see the law of cause and effect operating in your own life. You will thereby instantly lose the feeling of injustice, which may be conscious in some people but is perhaps unconscious in most. When we discussed the general fear of life, fear of the unknown, you learned that it is always the distorted God-image which is responsible for that fear. You may unconsciously fear that there is an arbitrary god who metes out punishment and reward according to his whim. And even if you do not actually believe in such a god, that is your concept of life and your role in it. If you regard yourself as lost, helpless, a prey to circumstances beyond your control, you grasp for “chance” and “luck.”  You feel like a lost little boat on a big ocean. Sometimes the waters are wild and the waves carry you against the current, meaning that life produces unhappiness, and sometimes the waves may be smooth and carry you into “lucky circumstances.”  You say, “There is nothing I can do about either.”  This is a deep-rooted feeling in almost everyone, and it is of utmost importance to make such concepts of life conscious. Some of you have succeeded in doing so, but you do not as yet see the way out. You may say, “All right, and what now?”

You will find the answer by recognizing your hazy or mixed goals that are responsible for whatever it is you lack. This particular confusion and lack of motivation is directly responsible for unfulfillment or lack of success, if you want to call it that. If you then realize that it is you who have caused it, and not a chaotic universe or God, you will automatically lose some of your fear and insecurity. You will know that you are capable of producing favorable conditions, even if you are not yet doing so. You will at least see the road. You will start to think about clarifying your motives and establishing those that you really want, and not those in accord with what you believe you ought to want. Keep such established motivations conscious and clearly defined, working toward their goals. While you may not yet be able to shed the selfish motives, the very admission that they exist, the very honesty and clear vision about yourself will, on the one hand, release an entirely new inner force and energy, and, on the other, you will see your own responsibility for your fate. You will then cease being afraid of an unknown fate, whether your fears be conscious or unconscious.

My friends, it is very important for all of you to consider these questions at this point. What I said today may not be entirely new to those of you who have been following these teachings, but perhaps you will now understand my words in a different light and make better use of them. Now they will sink in deeper and enable you to work more constructively.”

– Eva Pierrakos, The Pathwork Lectures

[Habits of Confusion] 4. Shame and Guilt

We often find ourselves having to make difficult choices. But what makes them difficult? A part of us wants to choose something, yet another one wants to choose something else. What are these parts of us and why do they have different perspectives on what the right choice is? Why are we split in such a way that we are unable to act as a unified whole?

It is as though we can feel the pull of opposing forces, each having a strong claim and we tend to agree with both views, because both views have legitimacy. How are we able to carry these contradictory tendencies and how can we expect to find clarity without elucidating the motivations and reasons of each of these split personalities?

If these sub-personalities had a voice what would they say? What would they really say, if they were radically honest? If they didn’t hide behind good intentions, obligations and blame? If they took full responsibility for the way they feel?

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I think they would sound much different than what they would appear initially.  Many of our internal conflicts stem from the way we frame our problems, from the lack of willingness to take ownership for our problems and from not listening to our intuitive guidance. We often aren’t able to recognize our true motivations for the way we act, because we are blinded by ideas of how things are supposed to be, by what is expected of us and by unconscious fears.

Two of the things that guide our behaviors without us realizing are guilt and shame. We want to do something that would be good for us, yet that would mean letting people down. This conflict causes anxiety, because provoking negative emotions in another person creates the impression that we would be doing something bad. We would have to be bad to disappoint somebody like that, they counted on us for this. If we are used to taking on other people’s emotions, then we feel responsible for the way they feel. We forget that everybody is in charge of their own state of mind and we make it our mission to do whatever is in our power to keep other people’s approval. Then we start getting resentful and bitter because in essence we are shifting responsibilities, we take on the responsibility of other people’s emotions, yet we hold them accountable for our lack of happiness.

The thought behind it is something like ‘fine, I’ll do this to keep you happy, but just so you know, I hate it and you are responsible for making me do this.’ If we were honest about what was happening we would find feelings of obligation, duty, shame and guilt beneath this attitude. If they can be recognized as such, then we need not act on them, since we know that our actions do not stem from love, but from wounding. We would liberate ourselves from these feelings and we would liberate the other person as well from deriving strength/value/security from outside of themselves. They would no longer rely on our actions for those things which would give them the chance to empower themselves. When we take responsibility for the way we feel, we help other people to do the same.

“There’s such a thing as healthy shame. Such shame, which is directed at our behavior, catalyzes our conscience. In stark contrast, unhealthy shame, which is directed at our being, catalyzes our inner critic, which commonly masquerades as our conscience.”

– Robert Augustus Masters, Bringing Our Shadow Out Of The Dark

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Sometimes it is difficult to identify these emotions because the mind can engage in rationalizations and justifications for the way we behave, thinking it is acting on good intentions. But there is a difference between doing something out of love and doing the same thing out of obligation. The former is done wholeheartedly, without any regrets or resistance while the latter needs plenty of convincing to do and plenty of assurances to be given in order to be done. The former feels right and fills you up with joy, while the latter is done in order to be congruent with your idea of what the right thing to do is.

For instance, I once had to decide whether I was going to go back to my old job. I was extremely confused about it and I didn’t know what to do. I spent a whole month trying to figure it out. I knew I needed money, since I was pretty much broke, yet I didn’t really want to do it anymore. In my mind I kept telling myself how I needed to be financially independent and how other people needed to know I was self-reliant and I found all sorts of reasons to justify to myself that going back was the right thing to do. But this didn’t last, because these lies had caused so much friction that I couldn’t take it any longer and I finally decided, in spite of all opposition, that I wasn’t going to go back regardless the consequences. Of course, being independent is important, it’s just that for me going back at that point would not have been a good decision since I needed to move forward.

Other times, I would continue to live up to other people’s expectations and always feel guilty when I wasn’t be able to live up to them. I would find myself feeling suffocated by obligation and I would feel guilty about not being able to do things out of love. The more I did them, the more my feelings grew into resentment and bitterness. And I found myself getting more and more drained and weakened by having to do those things that seemed like the right thing to do. But they weren’t, they were just the shoulds I had internalized to justify the fact that I was doing these things with good intentions.

Shame and guilt can take various disguises. Robert Augustus Masters identified in his book Bringing Your Shadow Out Of The Dark three disguises that they can take: aggression, emotional disconnection and narcissism. Aggression can be elicited when we feel ashamed, yet we are unable to accept that part of ourselves that makes mistakes and so we try to control the world around us into not disturbing us with these perceptions of wrongdoing that we find so difficult to accept in ourselves. Emotional disconnection is another strategy we can employ when we feel shame. Our emotions can be so overwhelming that we cannot accept the things we have said and done and so we resort to emotional disconnection as a form of self-preservation. We unconsciously believe that numbing our shame can stop the pain, but all it does is anesthetize us to the richness of life. The third means of escape from shame is narcissism, where we inflate our sense of self to such a degree that we cannot accept any criticism.  We don’t want to feel shame, we associate it with a feeling of being bad, of being annihilated and instead of accepting these feelings, we often try to hide beneath a mask of authority or competence or importance in order to discourage others from questioning us ever again.

“When I was eight or nine, I proudly brought home my report card. It was packed with As. I showed it to my father, and without looking at me he muttered something about “What the hell good is this when you can’t even screw in a bolt straight?” I slouched beneath the crushing shame I felt at hearing these words. I’d already learned that if I couldn’t master a skill, such as screwing in a bolt straight, right away, he wouldn’t give me a second chance. The lesson, which he drove into me over and over, was that being successful meant being competent in skills that he valued and being incompetent in such skills meant being rejected, hurt, blasted with shame. And the more shame I felt, the more I was pulled to be aggressive with others, especially with regard to besting them physically and academically. I had zero awareness of this connection between shame and aggression at the time, it was completely hidden in my shadow.”

– Robert Augustus Masters, Bringing Your Shadow Out Of The Dark

When we act according to our internalized shoulds we only have two options: either we do what is expected of us and breed resentment or we don’t do those things and we feel guilty. That doesn’t seem like a fair choice, does it? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You are allowed to not want to do something without feeling guilty or ashamed. You are allowed to have your own boundaries. And you are allowed to say no to things that drain you. That doesn’t make you a bad person. You can use your creative energy to build the life that you want, the life that brings you joy. And you can choose to direct this energy on a channel that is free from resistance.

The problem with shoulds is that they do seem to have a strong claim on the way you behave and act. But the best indicator of it being the right thing to do for you is whether you can do those things with love, without complaining or blaming other people, if you can do it without any feeling of guilt and shame, obligation or duty, whether you can do it because you simply want to.

[Habits of Confusion] 2. Clutter

Back when I worked as a programmer my favorite tasks involved cleaning up code. I liked removing redundancies, organizing functions for better accessibility and simplifying things for better clarity. I think this preference of mine originated from my need for being more organized in real life.

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While being messy can be a sign of a creative mind, it can also be a cause for anxiety, confusion and lack of inspiration. After all, the environment we live in is a reflection of who we are, influencing us as much as we influence it. Our inner state manifests in the way we live and its effects become causes for our state of mind and being. Our habits therefore, tend to create feedback loops of experience and the environments we live in become like extensions of who we are, reflecting back to us our personalities, emotional states and habits of thinking. Living in an environment that is nurturing, safe, clean, bright and organized can help improve our state of being because when the environment is not a distraction, then we have the external conditions for being able to think clearly.

I have often felt after difficult experiences the need to clean my room. I didn’t question this need, I just knew that I had to put everything in order, I needed to put myself together and I had to start somewhere. Cleaning your room is the easiest and quickest form of improving yourself, because it’s a clear, practical thing you can do. You want to clean up, because you want to be able to think clearly, you want to be able to see how things really are and from that space, you want to be able to make better decisions.

But we don’t always know how to clean up and organize, how to remove clutter and improve our homes. I have tried numerous times to find the best way to set up my environment so that I would enjoy it, yet it always seemed to end up messy and disorganized, which made me feel really anxious. It got so bad, that I had to remove a piece of furniture from my room, and ended up creating clutter in another room. I just couldn’t bear it in there any longer.

Just about the time this was happening, the Universe brought to my attention the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. In it I found the answers to why I couldn’t keep my environment clean and organized. And it has helped me tremendously, not only in cleaning up, but also in understanding myself better.

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Marie Kondo created a cleaning up method called KonMari that has had great success in not only creating order in the environments it is applied, but also maintaining order indefinitely. There are two main rules that need to be followed:

  1. Keep only those objects that give you joy
  2. Have a designated place for every object you have

This is all you need to keep your place as organized as you want it, because if you only have objects that give you joy, then you will feel good in your environment and if you have a place for each and every object, then you know where to put it back after you use it. The most common reason for untidiness, after all, is misplacing objects.

Moreover, the KonMari method provides a great way to declutter and to organize objects too. It says that the best way to declutter is by category. First you start with books, then with clothes, then papers, then miscellaneous objects, and finally objects to which you have an emotional attachment. The way you go about it is to collect all objects in the same category on the floor and go through each of them, touching them and asking yourself if they really bring you joy, keeping only those for which the answer is yes. Then, you thank the objects that you want to give away or throw out for having served you, and then you release them.

When you are done decluttering, all that remains is for you to find a place for each and every object and the best way to do it is again by category. After you do this you will feel much better, as you will be surrounded only by objects that bring you joy and you will know where each object goes, so that your environment doesn’t end up in chaos anymore.

One very important thing I started noticing when I decluttered was that many books I had bought I didn’t buy for good reasons, many clothes I had I didn’t like to wear and many things I had, I never used. For instance, some books I had bought because I liked someone who was interested in those topics. Others I had bought because I was too ambitious about learning things that I wasn’t that interested in. And others no longer represented me. The same with clothes, some I had bought from second hand and I realized I just didn’t like to wear second hand clothes because I am sensitive to other people’s energy, other clothes I had bought because I had created a false image about myself and they didn’t really suit me. And others were just colorful and I like color, but they were too flashy to be worn.

I realized that more than half the things I owned I no longer identified with. The biggest realization I had was that I didn’t really like music production. I liked the outcome of it, psybient music, but I didn’t like the process of creating it. I got angry and frustrated when I tried making music and I just didn’t find peace or joy doing it. I had bought a Korg Minilogue synthesizer, understood its functions, connected it with my computer, and just when I got to the first bigger obstacle, I realized I didn’t really like to do it. I had spent a lot of 2018 learning about music production, bought an audio interface and a professioal microphone, took lessons on Udemy on piano and music production, bought a Korg Volca Beats drum machine and a Yamaha Reface CS that I sold because I felt I was limited by them, bought the Korg Minilogue, only to find after almost a year, that I didn’t really enjoy it that much.

That is the power of cleaning up and decluttering. You start seeing the ways in which you have fooled yourself about your identity. You start to understand what you really like and dislike, who you are and what you want to appear like to the outside world. You start to see yourself clearer and it puts you in touch with your wants and needs. Thus, decluttering really helps to relieve the state of confusion you may find yourself in. It creates the space needed for self-observation. That’s why that Jordan Peterson meme about cleaning your room is so powerful. You need to sort yourself out before you can impact the world in a meaningful manner that is based on true understanding.

When you create this space you may start seeing the things in your life that are good or bad for you. You may find the cause of your anxiety, you may realize that certain activities don’t bring you joy, that certain things no longer work for you anymore or that you are no longer willing to accept certain behaviors in other people. What starts out as minor decisions on your home environment, can turn into radical changes in your life.

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There is also an esoteric perspective on cleaning up. Clutter and uncleanliness is a magnet for negative energies. I experienced this first hand. When I decluttered I didn’t want to throw things away because I had a lot of books and clothes in new condition that I could sell or give away. So I put them in bags and deposited them in another room. There were like 8 to 10 bags of stuff. Then, after a while, when I decided to sell them on the Romanian equivalent of ebay, I had to unpack them and that is when I started feeling sick, like needing to purge. It’s as if I had bothered the stale energies that had settled there and they started to run amok.

Light is also very important for your state of mind, not only from a biological and psychological perspective, but also from a spiritual perspective. The Sun is after all the life giver and it heals the aura. We need natural sunlight for our well-being and a room that is well lit really helps improve your state.

Fresh air is another thing that helps with anxiety. During a time when I had trouble sleeping, I would leave the window open over the night. The air needs to be renewed and even 5 minutes of fresh air/day can improve the quality of your experience at home.

Lastly, I will leave you with a fragment of a lecture by Jordan Peterson that perfectly illustrates the idea that the environments we live in are an extension of who we are.

“Jung said first of all you unite your mind with your emotions so that makes one thing instead of two fighting things. That’s a good one! And then the next conjunction he talked about was that it isn’t enough to unite your mind and your emotions and he thought about that as a male-female pairing symbolically. That’s how it would manifest itself sometimes in dreams. So you take the masculine element and the feminine element, the thinking and the emotion, unite those and that makes you more like one thing. Ok, now all of a sudden that’s represented as symbolically male, that one thing. And it unites with something else that is now represented symbolically female, that’s the body. So you take the mind-emotion integration and integrate that with your body. So what does that mean? You act it out instead of just thinking!

So there’s this philosophical idea called a… now I’m gonna forget what it’s called, it’s a contradiction in action, there’s actually a technical term for it but that’s when you think and believe something but you don’t act it out. And so that means there’s a dissociation in you somehow between your abstract representations and what you manifest in action. Well, that’s another form of discontinuity that isn’t doing you any good! You know, the driver’s going one way and the car is going the other and you won’t even be able to understand yourself if you do that. But even more, you’re not putting your principles into practice so your being is dissociated. So once you get your mind and your emotions working together, then the next thing to do is to act that out consistently. So that was the second conjunction as far as Jung was concerned.

And then the third one was – this is the tough one and this is the one that is related to phenomenology – you erase the distinction between yourself and the world. That’s a tough one. So imagine you’re dealing with someone who is hoarding. People who are hoarding are often older or neurologically damaged or they have obsessive compulsive disorder. But then you walk into their house and there’s like 10000 things into their house. There’s maybe 100 boxes and you open up a box and in the box there’s some pens and some old passports and some checks and their collection of silver dollars and some hypodermic needles and some dust and you know, a dead mouse. And there’s boxes and boxes and boxes, it’s like that in the house, it’s absolute chaos in there, absolute chaos, not order. Chaos! And then you think ‘is that their house, or is that their being, is that their mind?’ and the answer is there’s no difference. There’s no difference! So you know, I can say if you want to organize your psyche you could start by organizing your room, if that would be easier, because maybe you’re more a concrete person and you need something concrete to do. So you go clean up under your bed and you make your bed and you organize the papers on your desk and you think well, just exactly what are you organizing? Are you organizing the objective world or are you organizing your field of being like your field of total experience? And Jung believed – and I think there’s a Buddhist doctrine that’s sort of nested in there – that at the highest level of psychological integration there’s no difference between you and what you experience.

Now you think, well, I can’t control everything I experience but that’s no objection because you can’t control yourself anyway, so the mere fact that you can’t extend control over everything you experience is no argument against the idea that you should still treat that as an extension of yourself. So let’s say you have a long standing feud with your brother. Well, is that a psychological problem, is that him, is it a problem in the objective world or is that a problem in your field of being? And it’s very useful to think that way because you might ask what could you do to improve yourself? Well, let’s step one step backwards. The first question might be ‘why should you even bother improving yourself?’ and I think the answer to that is that so you don’t suffer any more stupidly than you have to and maybe so others don’t have to either. It’s something like that. There’s a real injunction at the bottom of it, it’s not some casual self-help doctrine.”

More here:

 

[Habits of Confusion] 1. Mismanaged High Openness

Being someone who’s been struggling with making decisions to the point of anxiety (I call it decision anxiety), I started becoming familiar with the mechanics of it. I learned that it relates to a feeling of powerlessness and to a desire to always know what the right decision is but I have also come to believe that the most important cause of this kind of anxiety is confusion. And so, I decided to put together a list of habits that create confusion in hope that they may be more easily identified when they occur and thus, easier to fix.

So here is the first habit:

Mismanaged High Openness

Openness is one of the 5 personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) from the Big Five personality theory. People who score high on openness are creative, curious, imaginative, explorative and inventive which is why they are very often involved in artistic pursuits. Those who score very high on openness, though, may run the risk of becoming unfocused, interested in too many things, getting distracted by novelty or experimenting with a variety of things, which can be a cause for instability.

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I don’t recall if I scored 100% on openness, but it was definitely more than 98% which both surprised me and didn’t. It surprised me because I didn’t think I was that easily swayed by various interests and it didn’t surprise me because I already viewed myself as a creative person.

I didn’t know this could be a problem, but this new knowledge made me think of the various ways in which I had overwhelmed myself with information to the point where I couldn’t dedicate myself to any pursuit, because my attention would be drawn by something else every time.

As an example, I signed up to so many courses on Udemy and Coursera: Music Production, Propaganda, Hypnosis, NLP, Programming, Piano Lessons, Music Theory, QiGong, Guitar, Social Psychology, Photoshop, Astronomy, History, etc. and I lost interest in many of them halfway. Most of them I have purchased, yet I didn’t even start them.

I have been interested in too many things for my own good. And since I have quit my job, I have been feeling a bit purposeless and confused about what I am doing, about what I want, what I like and where I am going. I have been acting like a kid distracted by shiny objects and it hasn’t been very fun.

After I wrote this article, I was reading The Four Temperaments by Rudolf Steiner, and the following quote really made an impression on me:

“In the nervous system and astral body, sensations and feelings constantly fluctuate. Any harmony or order results solely from the restraining influence of the ego. People who do not exercise that influence appear to have no control over their thoughts and sensations. They are totally absorbed by the sensations, pictures, and ideas that ebb and flow within them. Something like this occurs whenever the astral body predominates, as, for example, in the sanguine. Sanguines surrender themselves in a certain sense to the constant and varied flow of images, sensations, and ideas since in them the astral body and nervous system predominate.

The nervous system’s activity is restrained only by the circulation of the blood. That this is so becomes clear when we consider what happens when a person lacks blood or is anaemic, in other words, when the blood’s restraining influence is absent. Mental images fluctuate wildly, often leading to illusions and hallucinations.

A touch of this is present in sanguines. Sanguines are incapable of lingering over an impression. They cannot fix their attention on a particular image nor sustain their interest in an impression. Instead, they rush from experience to experience, from percept to percept. This is especially noticeable in sanguine children, where it can be a source of concern. The sanguine child’s interest is easily kindled, a picture will easily impress, but the impression quickly vanishes.”

~ Rudolf Steiner – The Four Temperaments

It made me realize that there is a correlation between the sanguine temperament and high openness and that I need to become more focused and more restrained in my explorations. Also, I find it interesting that Rudolf Steiner mentions anemia, because I also have iron-deficiency anemia.

So if you are high on openness like me, I think it helps to become a bit more organized. Set goals, short and long term. Make lists. Narrow down your interests to what you really love to do, to what you are really interested in. You’ll be able to identify it by the level of satisfaction or joy it gives you. For me that was figuring out tools of media manipulation for a while and developing my critical thinking. Another thing I am always interested in is shadow work, understanding my conditioned behavior, reflecting on it and writing about it too. I think I would have loved to do something like what PewDiePie does because I feel I have the same kind of craziness within, except I don’t manifest it very often. 

I think that people who are high on openness don’t like committing to things, but if you love to do something, you need to grow that something. And commitment is the tool by which you achieve it. It’s not something that restricts you, it is what channels your creative power, which would otherwise squander among your short lived interests.

 

On Indecisiveness [Part 3]

I was in an antique book store a few weeks ago and among other interesting titles I found Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I had never read a book by her before but I wanted to so I bought it. I noticed that one page was bent at the top corner, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. A few days later I started reading it and I was amazed at how good this book was. I have read many books on topics like these, yet this one felt so unique. It was about how the reality we experience is closely related to our state of consciousness. In particular this book looked into how people can get sick when they don’t deal with the catalysts in their lives properly. It made a parallel between the 7 chakras (Buddhism), the 7 sacraments (Christianity) and the 10 sephirot (Kabbalah/Judaism) in order to show that they referred to the same things and provided insight into how imbalances can develop into our systems in relation to these energy centers.  She explained through many stories of her patients how these imbalances are ways of showing us that we are refusing to acknowledge something in ourselves and how illnesses develop in our bodies in order to get our attention. If the catalyst is not dealt with at a mental level, then it moves into the body.

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The stories were the highlight of the book and were very powerful illustrations of the insights that Caroline provided. A chapter was dedicated to each Chakra/Sacrament/Sephirot correspondence. The page that had a bent corner was on the Third Chakra chapter: Personal Power (now that I think about it, it seems very fitting). It was on page 180 (180 degrees = changing directions/changing mind?) and this is what it said:

“[179] For the most part information that is accessible to intuition makes its presence known by making us feel uncomfortable, depressed, and anxious – or at the other extreme, drifty and detached, as if we were suddenly cut off from all of our own feelings. In dreams of an intuitive nature, we receive symbols of change or chaos. Such dreams often occur more intensely during emotional crises. Energy or intuitive sensations signal that we have reached a crossroads in our lives and [180] that we have an opportunity to influence the next stage of our lives, at least to some degree, through the choice we make now.

The intuition and the independence of the third chakra together give us the capacity to take risks, to follow through on gut hunches.  Evan, twenty-eight [my age], contacted me because he was suffering from a severely ulcerated colon. As I evaluated him, I kept receiving the impression of a horse being led to the starting gate but never running the race. He seemed to have no energy left to stand on his own. In fact, he seemed to have fled from the opportunities life had given him because he was afraid of failure. He would not take even one chance to seek confirmation of an intuition.

In his own words, Evan’s life had been a series of false starts. He had considered all sorts of business ventures, but had decided against each of them. He was forever studying the stock market, looking for a formula that revealed the rise-and-fall pattern of stock prices. Obsessed with this ideal, he had carefully accumulated statistics. Actually, he had become pretty good at identifying stocks that were about to increase in value. When I asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and invest in some of those stocks, he said, “The formula is not yet perfect. It has to be perfect.” Yet, he was filled with bitterness toward himself because he knew he would have earned a great deal of money had he followed through on some of his hunches. In fact, he would have become fairly wealthy. When I commented that, having done so well on paper, he was equally likely to succeed in an actual investment, Evan responded that the stock market is volatile, and he could never be certain that his hunches would prove accurate.

With the ulcerated colon, Evan’s body was being ripped apart by his inability to act on his gut hunches. He could not bring himself to invest even a little money in a stock. His fear of taking a risk was literally destroying his body, yet he was completely obsessed by a business that is nothing but risk. Telling Evan to use a relaxation [181] technique would have been about as helpful as telling a teenager to be home on time. Evan needed to release his computerlike mind and shift to his gut instincts. He insisted his gut instincts don’t provide “proof” of outcomes, but only suggest possibilities.”

— Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit

I was blown away by how much this resembled the biggest challenge I was facing. I too felt too afraid to try anything as long as I didn’t have the certainty it was going to end in success. This was a beautiful synchronicity telling me I had to initiate something, whatever it may have been. And I wasn’t doing anything. I had received similar guidance at the beginning of the year when I was watching The Office. It was that episode when Jan comes to Scranton to talk to the girls and she tells Pam about some free art courses that are available, and Pam doesn’t know whether she should take the opportunity or not. My right ear started ringing just as Jim was telling Pam “you’ve gotta take a chance on something sometime, Pam.” I usually get ear ringing in my right ear when I need to pay attention to something I’m experiencing, whether a thought, or something I see or hear somewhere. It usually means “this is important!” or “pay attention!” or “this!” At that time I had quit my job for a few months and I still had no idea what I was gonna do next. So the message was spot on. I found it incredibly beautiful to receive such graceful guidance.

More recently I was on Omegle and I was feeling king of discouraged and I just needed to talk to someone. For those who haven’t used it, Omegle is a website where you can chat with random strangers. It has both a video version and a text version, though I wouldn’t recommend the video one.  I was connected to a guy from Australia who had woken up too early and couldn’t fall back asleep. He was a psychology student, so I became his subject for a good chunk of our conversation which was kind of fun. I started telling him about my exaggerated sense of self-doubt and this is what he told me:

Stranger: I think to succeed something you should be okay with failing

Stranger: Because you can’t get anything without struggling

Stranger: And through that struggle you draw your path better than before

Stranger: Which might lead you to success

Stranger: Thus, failure is a risk that should be taken to succeed something

Stranger: Like for example

Stranger: Let’s say you were hurt from your ex

Stranger: And you’re very done with your love life

Stranger: But that shouldn’t stop you from loving someone again

Stranger: Like I get it, you might end up getting hurt again but what if you become very happy

Stranger: So that’s the risk to take to become happy

And it was like, oh wow, how do I manage to forget the basics so often? Why don’t these things stick with me? Why are my whys not strong enough? Why am I avoiding choice? And I figured I have a big commitment problem, I always want to keep my options open. I seem to be afraid of taking risks, even though I thought myself to be courageous. And I have been courageous in many instances, and yet there are some things that I just don’t seem to want to risk. I think these are some things that have made me lose confidence in myself:

  • I take on challenges which are too big, and I get discouraged when they don’t work out and I attribute the failure to my lack of skill.
  • I don’t break down challenges into achievable milestones and so the climb seems too long and the rewards too little.
  • I change my mind too often and it has become too strong a habit. It’s like a black hole sucking me in whenever I need to make a decision, like I can feel the pull of doubt dragging me into confusion.
  • I have bathed into victim mentality for a while and I have allowed myself to believe that I was powerless. I refused to take responsibility for the way I feel and I let others decide things for me.
  • I am afraid of missing chances and of making mistakes. I feel pressured by the idea that each choice has vast ramifications, and I want to make sure that it leads to good things.
  • Once I make a decision I go through the decision process again to make sure I didn’t overlook anything, which starts making the other option more appealing.
  • I question myself too much. I try to analyze too many aspects of a problem and I lose perspective by focusing on the details.
  • I have a sense of guilt which creates mental confusion.

The guy from Omegle reminded me that any choice implies some form of struggle and has attached to it the possibility of failure, of making mistakes and that’s perfectly ok. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about being clear on what you want and need and seeing which choice can provide that for you. Also it’s about choosing (the fuck) something so that you can advance by finding out once and for all if it works or doesn’t work so that you can learn something and adjust. Otherwise you’re wasting your energy on self-doubt, weakening your soul, distrusting your ability to decide and enhancing this self-image of powerlessness. Lingering there can only put you in a feedback loop. So you need to trust yourself and have faith that the path becomes clearer after you make the choice. Even if you have to change your decision afterwards. It’s exploration, learning by experiment, trial and error. Once you get the confidence, your intuition becomes stronger as well. Intuition needs to be developed too. It is strongly linked to the faith you have in yourself. But you have to choose, you have to explore, you have to start the experiment, otherwise there is no data to gather. And it doesn’t help if you’re just sitting there waiting to be illuminated as if from the ether without anything on your part.

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I recently had a thought that went like “faith in yourself is the same thing as faith in God/Truth/All That Is”. I don’t know if I got it from somewhere, or if I came up with it, but I found it to be an extremely powerful idea. It may seem paradoxical, because one could say that if they had faith in God to look after them, then they wouldn’t care about doing anything in their life, and so they would just rely on the Divine Will to work things out for them. But that is not how I view it at all. That interpretation does not take into account the will as a creative act. Trusting that things will work out is both an affirmation of your own power and that of the Divine. The way I see it is that if you have faith in God/Truth/All That Is to take care of you, then you will have the courage and the confidence to do anything in life, and you wouldn’t experience self-doubt and fear, because you would know you are being supported. It’s like the saying goes “God helps those who help themselves.” The Universe seems to respond to your intentions and your thoughts.

A great book I read right around the time I was thinking about these things is The Way Out by Joseph Benner. This 45-page book is one of the most profound things I have ever read. I took some very important teachings from this book, mainly how we should defend the fortress of our mind with great care from thoughts that have no place in being there. I found the same idea of “faith in yourself is the same thing as faith in God” in this book as well. Doubts and worries weaken us and they show a lack of faith in the path that is laid out for us, a lack of faith in the Divine Will. Therefore, it is advised to relinquish such thoughts of despondency, discouragement, disappointment, doubt, fear and whatever darkness may cloud our minds and to have faith that everything is taken care of, just like a small child doesn’t doubt that his parents are taking care of his needs. That makes room for joy and curiosity and completely shifts our focus from what we think we should do to what we like and want to do.

“We will take as an illustration a friend who recently lost her position. Several weeks before, this friend mentioned to the writer that their business was very poor and that they had laid off several who had charge of departments similar to hers, and she supposed she would be the next to go. The writer remonstrated with her and tried to show that that attitude of mind would bring to her what she did not want. Two weeks later another friend reported that she had said the same thing to her, and we do not know to how many others she had voiced it. But a few days afterward, as she had pictured it, the notice of her dismissal came.

Now let us analyze the mental process which created and brought to pass the losing of her position. The conditions of the business, the letting go of other department heads and clerks naturally caused our friend to build a picture in her mind of her also probably having to go sooner or later, and through the fear of it she actually saw herself leaving. Day after day the conditions in the office, her talks with fellow employees and with others in other businesses in similar bad straits, and with those who had lost their jobs, increased and intensified her fear and helped her to build in the details of her picture, until she had it all finished and perfect. Then she naturally felt she would soon have to go.

So of course it had to come to pass.

Now do you understand? The proof that she and she alone created the necessity of her going was,

  1. she was the last of all the heads of departments let go, for she was the most efficient;
  2. she began criticizing her employers and their actions;
  3. she learned afterward that they did not want to lose her and they might give her back her position, having hired two young men to replace the other women let go.

But she had created on the mental plane the finished thought form of being dismissed and had vitalized it with her fears and other feelings, and as a result that thought form had to outmanifest; and so it forced itself into the minds of her employers and impelled them to do what they otherwise would not have done.”

— Joseph Benner, The Way Out

So were she to have faith that everything would work out, she would have projected that image into reality instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance. We often forget that we are creators and that our will is our greatest asset. Giving it up is equivalent to succumbing to determinism or refusing catalysts. The biggest growth we experience is when we choose.

Lastly, here are some things that I find helpful whenever I experience self-doubt:

  • If I find myself overthinking things, I just stop. I postpone the decision, I give it a few more hours or days and I distract myself with something else, preferably something I enjoy doing.
  • I try to see whether I got myself into this predicament due to some assumptions or shoulds. Maybe I think I should do this or maybe I’m doing this for the wrong reasons.
  • I try to get into my body. Move, go out, do something. Dance, do yoga, jump around, play some sports, go running, anything that can get me back in touch with my body, as overthinking things can make you dissociated from the intelligence of your body, which is where you get your intuitive impressions.
  • Breathe. Relax. It may not be that big a deal.
  • Be more organized in my approach to my decision. Deal with the facts of the situation, try not to project into the future. Focus on your whys, not your shoulds and forget about the consequences.
  • Realize that there are no mistakes and whatever you choose will still lead you to the right path.
  • If you experience resistance to doing something, maybe you don’t really want to do it or perhaps you are not ready yet. It could be a possibility that you pushed yourself into it too soon.
  • If you made a choice and old addictions start resurfacing or they get more intense, it probably means that you’re not satisfied with that decision. For me that addiction is buying books, but it can have varied and subtle manifestations, it’s whatever recurring pattern of repetitive or compulsive behavior you might find yourself engaging in.
  • If your mental clarity decreases and you don’t find a sense of determination and/or joy, then you probably aren’t satisfied with the decision you made.
  • If you want to do something, but you just can’t pull through, you may be holding contradictory beliefs that are causing friction with your intentions.

 

On Indecisiveness [Part 2]

“Choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”

– Alan Watts

A few months ago I was met with a trivial decision. Do I spend another night at the country side or do I go back home? One moment the best decision seemed to be to leave, the next…to stay. Following moments…changed my mind again. Aaand…again. I probably would have gone on either changing my mind or worrying about the right decision for a while, had it not been for the heavy rain that started pouring soon after that which made it clear that I wasn’t gonna leave anywhere that night. These sorts of “hard” decisions were beginning to be regular occurrences since I made some mistakes relatively recently that I found difficult to live with [Part 1]. Decisions of whether to read a book or not, go out or stay indoors, buy an item of clothing or not soon became of life and death importance, as if the fate of the world depended on it. All aspects of the problem needed to be examined before proceeding with an action. If there was reason to suspect that the outcomes were going to be less than perfect, then the action needed to be abandoned. Due to this, I withdrew myself from many situations that I had signed up for, often times wasting money needlessly because of it.

That night at grandma’s I started feeling sick for no apparent reason other than the fact that I had induced that state to myself with excessive worrying. It started with a mild headache. Then it grew, and it grew and it grew until I started feeling feverish, the back of my neck was all clenched up, my stomach was hurting and I felt so sick I thought I was going to die. It was another “dark night of the soul”, another initiation. These were starting to get very violent. I lied in bed for a few hours and then I went outside and purged. I kept on feeling very sick, so my Mom made me some chamomile tea. When she gave me the cup, there was one word, and one word only that I could see on the cup. It was “Indecisiveness”. It hit me like a bus. There it was, the answer to why I was experiencing all those things delivered to me by the universe. I turned the cup and I saw that it was one of those cups designed for each astrological sign. This one was Libra – my sign – and it was a list of traits that were representative of it. I was amazed at this synchronicity. Soon after I was done purging I started feeling much much better. I was exhausted, but my two cats found their way to me, one on my stomach and one at my feet and all was well again. The danger had passed. But I have to tell you, for a brief moment I thought I was going to die and at times I may have even wanted it to happen.

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Tom Montalk of montalk.net has spoken of a concept called Plausible Deniability, which is a way to explain away something by invoking a cause even though that cause is unlikely to be powerful enough to provoke the observed effect. That day I ate a few blueberries – which apparently can cause acid reflux/acidity in the stomach – but not nearly enough as many as would have been needed for me to have that disproportionate reaction. There was something more there, and I was being shown the weakening effects of self doubt on the soul.

I think that night was when I realized that my indecisiveness had turned into a big problem. Before that it was perhaps something to be amused about, like one of the strange things I just do. But something had changed and it was no laughing matter anymore. It was beginning to have a life of its own, like a force exercising its influence over me. Whenever I doubted myself, I could feel its presence, like it was torturing me with my own thoughts. Whenever I settled on something, it would make the other option more appealing, like I was a puppet it manipulated to its amusement. I was starting to feel like a leaf in the wind, going with the feel of the moment which could change at any time. I had lost my center. I had allowed self doubt to seep in too deep. And I was losing my sense of self.

Paul Levy described in his phenomenal book Dispelling Wetiko how humanity is exposed to a psychic virus – which the Native Americans have called wetiko – which often influences our thoughts and exploits our vulnerabilities, making us believe things that are not true or that are unproductive. I suspect my challenge that night was of a wetiko kind.

“Wetiko can insinuate itself into our decision making process by making us too intellectual, overly mental, and cut off from our feelings. And yet, wetiko can just as easily work the other way around, too, convincing us to naively and unilaterally trust our gut feelings above all else. Of course, at certain points in time we have all experienced how our gut feelings are the very form our inner knowing and wisdom is manifesting, and therefore at these moments these deeper feelings most definitely should be honored and listened to. But there are times when our thinking itself produces what seems like a gut feeling, which we then mistakenly interpret to be an expression of our inner wisdom. Our thoughts profoundly affect our emotion and the whole state of the body, which in turn affects thought in a self-reinforcing feedback loop which can easily lead us astray. Wetiko distorts our ability to differentiate between true feelings and feelings that appear to be deep feelings but are produced from thought. In addition, wetiko can obscure our discernment for when we should listen to our thoughts and follow our reason instead of simply going with our gut feelings.”

– Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko

Around this time of my life I would start different projects and I would abandon them soon after because they didn’t “flow” easily which is how I imagined things should go. I would start something and then lose interest, then move to the next thing and do the same. I needed the certainty that what I was doing was going to lead to great things, that the path I was pursuing was going to be fruitful. Due to this attitude towards work, I found myself discouraged by the smallest obstacles. I was in it for the outcomes, not for the struggle, and you cannot have one without the other. Of course, if you truly enjoy what you are doing, then you are willing to go through any obstacle in order to develop yourself in that area. In fact you wouldn’t even perceive those as obstacles, but like challenges in a game, thresholds that you need to pass to advance to the next level. And so work becomes play. But what I was doing was different. I constantly needed confirmation that I was going to get something out of my endeavors. If the result of my work was less than perfect I would became discouraged and I would take it as as proof that I didn’t have the skill/talent to create great things. I wasn’t willing to put in the effort, but I was expecting results. Self doubt was affecting many areas of my life.

The universe kept bringing to my attention things that showed me the erroneous assumptions I was making. One of those things was Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. That book reminded me that in life you always struggle with something, but in order to make it meaningful you have to figure out what struggles you are willing to bear. That’s why they say pick your poison. Because some poisons weaken you and even kill you while others help you become stronger. Another thing that found its way to me was an interview with Bernhard Guenther of veilofreality.com. In it he was talking about how Terrence McKenna had introduced him to psychedelics and the idea that they were tools for transformation. He said he was curious about them and he experimented with them, even taking them at rave parties in the desert. Nowadays he no longer uses psychedelics, as his journey has brought him to new realizations, as can be read here. But this story made me realize that if he had not made that choice to try psychedelics back then, had he let doubt conquer him, maybe he wouldn’t be where he is today. Had he not allowed himself to try anything because of the bad things that could happen, he would have learned nothing and he would have kept himself safe from experience. And so, even if from the perspective of today he wouldn’t do the same thing, because he’s learned a lot in the meantime, his choice at that point put him on the path to self-discovery because there were valuable lessons in that experience. He had made the right choice at that time, because that’s where his sincere seeking had taken him. And by trial and error you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Life is choosing pathways of experience. It is an awesome web of potential, highlighting threads with each choice. Focusing on the impact of your actions can remove you from the energy of the choice and instead make you imagine their consequences and implications. This backwards perspective is a way to avoid responsibility and can act as a way to justify your choices in a way that ignores the means. The choice is where it’s at, that’s where the learning occurs, the choice is what tells you who you are or where you are, not your imagined outcomes. So choose what is right and ignore the consequences, because you are choosing causes, not imagined effects. Your choice is a new cause, a new ripple, a new thread and it would be preferable to give it the momentum of truth, authenticity, wisdom and love, because that is what it will propagate. What you choose and the true intentions with with you choose create echoes that ripple across time. Infinity arrives at this one point and it’s asking you ‘how should I flow next?’ And you have the answer.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

On Indecisiveness [Part 1]

For quite some time now I’ve been feeling very indecisive about things. Whether it’s about important decisions like moving to a new city or minor ones like what movie to watch, it’s been taking me way too long to decide what the best options are. Usually I narrow it down to two options but the problem is that both of them seem appealing yet neither quite fitting. I mean which option is the right one? Am I selfish to be doing this or am I just doing what is right for me? Do I really need to do this or am I fooling myself? Are my motivations pure or am I deceiving myself into picking what is advantageous? These are the sort of questions that I have been torturing myself with for a while now.

The latest difficult decision I had to make was today and it was  about whether I should buy two books I found in an antique store. Because…there are so many things to consider like…am I just being a compulsive book buyer? Do I really need this book? I don’t even read that much science fiction. Do I buy just one, do I buy both of them or do I not buy any at all? Ah, but I’ve been here for so long, it’d look suspicious not to buy anything. And this other book…it seems like I already know much of what it’s about…do I really need it? This is the sort of questions that arise in my mind whenever I doubt myself. Eventually I was so worn out that I just bought both books and got the hell out of there, because I was starting to have panic attack symptoms. The moment I stepped outside I started feeling better. The major challenge of casually shopping found its resolution…one way or another.

It all started in the relatively recent past when I made a couple of really bad decisions which seriously crippled my confidence in my ability to choose correctly. Since then I’ve
been trying to ensure that all things are considered before making a decision so that I don’t end up repeating past mistakes. However, this approach turned out to be a form of punishment, holding myself accountable for actions I hadn’t even performed yet. The threat of making a mistake again was enough to keep my nerves stretched until I’ve analyzed all aspects of a problem which could take hours, days, weeks or why not, months. Because you want to make sure that the choice you make is the right one. Not that it might be the right one, but that it definitely is the right one. And that’s how you fall into the other extreme where you postpone choices as much as possible until you either lose both options, or one option chooses itself by default. The fear of not making a mistake turns into the refusal of choice/agency and that is the equivalent of powerlessness.

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[Duality by Louis Dyer]

Even if you eventually choose something, the doubt behind it is enough to overshadow the positive aspects of the choice, like trying to kick a ball in a straight line, but bending its trajectory instead. It soon becomes apparent that the attitude with which you make a choice influences how you will feel about the choice once it is made. For instance, now that I bought those books, I am not that excited to read them, because I bought them as an act of resignation, not as an act of joy. Some of the doubts I had about buying those books were reasonable. But I’ve become so fed up with changing my mind so often that I sometimes just get tired of arguing with myself and randomly pick something. I suppose that on top of the choices I have to make, I now have to deal with the fear that indecisiveness might turn up again. Like a self fulfilling prophecy or a feedback loop.

I’ve been reflecting on this problem of indecisiveness and I realized a few things. The first is that I have this expectation of knowing in advance whether a choice is the right choice. I need to somehow intuit or feel that my decision is the correct one, I need to feel good about it before I experience it. It’s like wanting answers to a problem before you start solving it. I think this sort of thinking switches the focus from the reasons why you are making the choice to the imagined outcome of the choice you make, which triggers what is referred to as analysis paralysis, overthinking things to such an extent that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Basically you are acting on what you think you should do instead of primarily considering your motivations for doing so.

A few months ago I was on the verge of making a very important decision. I was very conflicted about it because it was about something I didn’t want to do but I thought I needed to do it or that I had to do it. I was driving myself a bit mad with thinking about what I should do and I could not get clarity. As it happens, I sometimes like to listen to psybient music when I meditate or when I reflect on things. So I sat down on the floor in my room, thinking about all the aspects of the problem I could think of, wearing myself down with overthinking things. I was really absorbed by my thought processes, I probably wasn’t even aware of myself at that point. Each decision had its advantages, but both implied some form of struggle. So I kept analyzing things, trying to figure out what was the best course of action. And then, as if out of nowhere, I heard a voice. It said…”do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? There are no answers, only choices.” It was so sudden and unexpected that it startled me. For a second I thought that it came from the ether or from my subconscious/unconscious, or…who’s to say if they’re not one and the same thing. But no, it wasn’t a mystical experience, even though that would have been cool. The voice came from the speakers. It was a sample taken from the movie Solaris used masterfully by the guys from Carbon Based Lifeforms in a song called Set Theory. I think it was the question that woke me from my reverie: “do you understand what I’m trying to tell you?” as if shaking me into focus. I was so moved by it that I even shed a few tears. Somehow that quote was all I needed to hear. It was as though it switched something inside of me. I wasn’t going to get the answer of whether my choice was correct if I kept focusing on the outcomes.

The following days came with a few insights, though I was still confused about what to do next. The decision was about whether to go back to an old situation and synchronistically I kept meeting people from my past that were involved in that situation. My self doubt was so strong, that one night I experienced a true “dark night of the soul”, feeling as though I was under siege, and the fortress of my mind and soul were under heavy assault. That night was a much needed initiation because it opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been lying to myself for a month and a half, thinking that going back to that old situation was a good idea. The only thing I should have considered was whether I really wanted to do that and I 100% didn’t. I even convinced myself that going back was the better option and that the friction was due to the difficulty of the choice. But that was not the case, the friction was because I was opposing myself, trying to persuade myself into thinking I was doing the right thing. Really I was just afraid of the consequences of not doing that thing, of losing people’s support for doing so. I was refusing to take responsibility for my experiences and I was going to act the way I thought I should have or the way I was supposed to, the approved way. I was quite amazed about how easy it is to deceive yourself when you don’t frame things the right way. So once I stopped resisting and made the choice, it became apparent that it was the right decision. The realization of whether the choice was good or bad would have arisen regardless of what I would have chosen. The feedback comes afterwards. The only thing you need to do is to have self awareness and honesty to call things by their right name. For me a clear indicator of having made the right choice was a sense of relief and determination and a willingness to bear all the consequences of that action. If I were to choose differently I could see myself blaming other people for it and bracing myself for the unpleasant consequences that I would not have embraced as necessary steps in my evolution, but that I would have regarded as testaments of my cowardice.

Ultimately it’s a matter of honoring yourself. You have to ask yourself whether you are choosing something you really want to do, regardless of how others feel about it. It’s a matter of principle and of courage because you have to be willing to bear the unpleasant consequences of your actions and also you have to take responsibility for the way you feel. You cannot blame others for the decisions you make, they are not responsible for your well being. That’s not to say that you should never consider how you impact others, this is an important aspect that needs to be taken into account. But you have to think about your motivations for doing something, not the consequences. Otherwise you end up negotiating with yourself about what you should do and you end up compromising.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]