Sunday, March 6, 2011

No Excuses

[Note: I'm going to try my best to avoid mentions of particular concretes involved in my past Project and Circumstance, such as my specific family troubles and relationships, so that I can prevent my mind from dwelling on those matters and also be respectful to those family members I am still on respectable terms with, who are now more aware of this blog. Even having removed myself from my previous situation I still find I am continuing to derive beneficial philosophical insights from my past experiences, especially now that I'm in a new culture, am meeting new people, and can add, compare, and contrast these new experiences to my old ones. I think it's mostly immaterial now to note my relationship to a particular person who has fueled my thoughts unless it's important; I only mentioned that my problems were with my mother and grandmother specifically because it was important to the philosophical points I wanted to make about cultural notions of duty, intrinsic family values, and non-causal emotions that ideologically drove my problems at root. Now any experiences I have with my family members will likely lead me to muse on the natures of various forms of human character in general, the nature of our relations omitted.

To anyone who knows me in person or has (in the case of the people residing in the state I left behind), I'd like to reiterate that the main purpose of my blogging is to advance my thinking and ideals, not snark or get back at anyone. Writing helps my introspection greatly, and I share it because I like having an audience and hope I can fuel their thinking as well, hopefully persuade them to agree with my conclusions. I realize that offense may come anyhow despite any polite procedures in my writing, and I accept that: Some people will not be civil no matter how politely you treat them. I'll take it as something that comes packaged in the endeavor of speaking one's mind, so the only thing I want to make clear that it is not my intention to offend.] 

Even though my Project is over I still have much work to do, and I don't mean in regards to finding a job and the likes. As noted previously, my experiences still have had a psychological impact on me, so I must make an effort to take control over my character now that I'm unimpeded by fundamental external problems. There's absolutely no reason now why I shouldn't hold myself to the strictest standards from here on out. The reason why I couldn't competently engage in such thorough self-improvement before is because the problem I was dealing with wasn't of my own making and was very cumbersome and time consuming to overcome, so as a result I was held back by loose ends in my subconscious I couldn't get rid of. I have closure now, so it's time to move on.

I've deleted my secret blog now, but one of the posts I had written for it mused upon people who have mostly gotten bad people out of their life and yet retained the negative effects the relationship incurred. These people had been given a second chance at life by getting out the terrible people that imposed their psychological hangups on them to begin with, but they blew the chance by maintaining their malformed character for the rest of their life, thus becoming a product of the environment by choice. We can be to some extent not held responsible for certain aspects of our psyche when we're forced to deal with situations we'd otherwise would choose not to, but it's always possible to get out of that situation, and, upon doing so, have the full brunt of self-responsibility be shouldered thereafter. I intend not to waste my only chance at life by retaining any psychological hang-ups that could be excised quickly.

While I've noted nothing but positive changes from my Project so far, I worry most about my temperament. The situation I've just come out of was very psychologically repressive. I wasn't allowed to be myself to the fullest extent, otherwise I'd incur the punishment of a raised voice, tantrums, dead issues continually brought up, and so on. As a result, to cope with such bothers I had to mostly keep my thoughts to myself, and being involved in that situation so consistently made it so that it spilled into other areas in my life even when I wasn't presently being affected by the difficulties. I couldn't speak my thoughts freely, for instance, because it came with a great risk of provoking emotional distraught and whining, and having to deal with that risk so often made it so I even kept to myself in the presence of my coworkers, whom I trusted and who had proven to me that they can deal with disagreements without emotionally losing it. Simply put, I was much like Pavlov's dog, the animal that drooled at the sound of a bell regardless of whether or not food was present. I had to restrict my behavior in many ways to make things go smoothly, even hide certain foods I ate, which resulted in me developing habits which are no longer relevant to my new situation and deleterious to my pursuit of perfection.

At this point, however, it's hard to say which attributes of my past experience I've retained, if any at all. At present I can only detect that I need to vastly improve my sense of life, as the middle ground indifference I nurtured all these past years in Michigan has traveled with me. One would think that this achievement would have made me euphoric, but in truth it has only removed the fundamental stress I was feeling before, and an absence of stress is not equivalent to having achieved contentment. I sense I am over the negativity of the past, but I still need to exert more effort to establish something positive.

The greatest thing is that self-improvement at this point should be much easier and efficient now. It was so slow, difficult, and sometimes retrogressive in the past because I was stressed on a fundamental level and sometimes even had my goals undermined, but now those particular inhibitors are no longer present, though it may be wise to address an objection in order to dispel any doubts.

Before I deleted my secret blog a family member somehow found his way there and posted a comment on my first post about my Project, implying that personality characteristics can be determined by genetics and arguing that I'm likely blaming others for problems which were really born within myself. The rest of his writing indicated a very sloppy and perhaps evasive understanding of my position, but he does motivate me to further clarify my stance.

Of course, to start with, I had no choice in being born, so I was brought into existence without my consent. There's certainly nothing wrong with that -- it's just a simple truth -- but what that means is that I'm being pushed into a situation not of my own construction that I have to deal with for a certain amount of time despite any desire otherwise. Being a child, I was cognitively helpless for a certain period, so during that time I was entirely vulnerable to uncritically adsorbing the guidance, practices, and habits of my elders. I did, and it resulted in incredible psychological difficulties for a long time since I was unable to critically identify the nature of what I accepted and what I was doing to myself. Young children are like sponges: They absorb what they see and it becomes a part of them. It isn't until they can critically think that they'll be able to consciously control their character. Until then, I was practically a miniature version of the people in charge of my guidance, and it was very self-destructive. To say that personality can be determined by genetics is bogus because it's the common error of mistaking association with causation. That something happens often within a particular family does not mean that it's inherent in the DNA; it's also possible that it could only be common within a family because the individual members are engaging in similar actions which reap the same consequences. With all my thinking an observations, I've determined the problems within my own context are ideological, meaning how ideas have driven the thinking, ideas, habits, and practices accepted by my relevant elders. The reason why these certain negative psychological characteristics, such as consistently negative emotions and constant fear, are found to be held in common between these members is because they've accepted the same or similar philosophical premises that have motivated them to practice the things that lead to these consequences. We are what we do.

To continue being involved in this situation would hold me back because it was the root of my psychological hangups to begin with. Let's use a driving analogy (not from my personal experience, fyi). Project someone who has an near-crippling fear of driving and is determined to overcome it, but because of his age and context the state will only allow him to legally drive with one person: His single legal guardian. Let's say that this legal guardian has an irrational fear about this person learning how to drive, and his uncontrolled way of handling his emotions has resulted in him becoming hysterical at any time of stress. Any little mistake the developing driver makes results in the guardian screaming, thrashing in the seat, grabbing the steering wheel, squeezing the driver's shoulder, and other over-the-top behavior. In the position of someone trying to get over a fear, how do you think this would affect them? If you're already so much as frightened of a car passing by in the opposite lane of a low speed limit suburban neighborhood, would it not spike your fear if someone screamed at you for being one inch off center? Obviously, pairing this fearful driver with his hysterical guardian would make it incredibly more difficult for him to get over his fears or even cause it to worsen. Best for the driver would be to either learn peacefully on his own or with someone more rational, but, again, in this situation the state won't allow that.

The result of this situation is that the driver would be much slowed in developing his driving skills because he wouldn't be able to master his vehicle while in the company of his guardian. The guardian would just provoke his fears over and over again, and probably cause him to retrogress on his progress by continually striking his emotional nerves. This young driver would either have to make an incredibly intense effort to overcome this guardian's hysteria, wait until he can ride with someone else, or wait until he can drive by himself. Either way, his growth is going to be slower than it otherwise could be.

In my context, I absorbed the habits of my elders and had to live with the impact until I was able to critically think, by which then I vastly altered my philosophy and practices. However, many of the old emotions were still there since the particular people were still presence to provoke them. My grandmother, for instance, always refused to participate in my attempts to resolve our disputes, so the end result was that loose ends built up in my subconscious that I had no other choice but to let sit around. I couldn't move out at the time, so the loose ends simply piled up and gradually creeped into and took over my thinking. My grandmother's continual refusal for resolution meant I had to deal with those loose ends for the meanwhile, and that meant I was fundamentally stressed most of the time since I was incapable at the time of tying up the loose ends myself. With my mother, I found it necessary to get her out to cure my depression since she had an explosive and unpredictable temper and fits of gloom. To continue dealing with these people means I would have to continue tolerating being provoked all the time and being unable to resolve loose ends in my life. Now that they're out, the stimuluses are no longer present and I can take control over my character without fear something is going to rock the boat while I'm engaged in self-improvement.

My new situation means I no longer have any excuses, so now I can rest easy knowing everything is entirely my responsibility. I know that this reasoning doesn't apply to such things as the economy . . . that isn't of my doing or responsibility . . . so I only mean this to apply to spiritual issues and matters of character. However imperfect today's world may be or the things I may achieve, it is still within my grasp to develop the perfect self as I've outlined before, and until I can identify the full extent of the impact of my previous experiences I going to start by meditating in order to uplift my sense of life and build up and immunity to unnecessary stress. Meditation had great effects on me before, and I want to tap into those benefits again.

It's cliche', but life is too short to not expect anything less than the best and ideal. You waste your time now and you can say goodbye to happiness. Just about every time I think of my twenty-two years of age I think not of how young I am, but how old. Matters of my inevitable death rarely, if ever, enter my mind, but thinking of my age makes me feel the emotional impact of just how finite my time is.

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