You have to start with how disjointed I am. How incomplete and alone, afraid, and bewildered I was by life. How I never understood myself or other people. A poor miserable intellectual asshat born poor white trash.
We call it what? Broken homes, tv drama, bipolar disorder? Rosanne and fucking Al Bundy spoke to my condition. And so did Nietzsche, fuckin’ Nietzsche. Now don’t get me wrong, Nietzsche’s still my homie, but a 14yo has no business reading that shit.
Basically I was lost, the universe was empty and meaningless. I wasn’t man enough, white-like-you enough, geeky-like-you-enough, I was a weirdo and a pervert. A liar and a thief. I never meant to do bad, I just didn’t no how to do good right.
See the thing is, my life started in shit, felt like shit, and sank deeper into shit, and I didn’t see any way but shit.
But then some remarkable fucking shit started to happen to me after my life fell the fuck apart. I changed my environment, I got a chance to experiment different ways to people. Different things to be about. I got to see glimpses of things outside of my miserable shit little existence, and I saw people who came from far shittier places than me fucking *own* life.
And I got to see that they didn’t do it perfectly, either. They didn’t just one day stop fucking up all together. It’s that they changed their context, their story, how they viewed their life and their circumstance, how they viewed the past, their fuckups, and how they wanted to be.
And I saw that it did something way better than making fucked up people normal, it made them extraordinary, in a way that they did not have to apologize to or accommodate the world for, instead they made the world accommodate them. In all their beautiful glory.
I got to thinking, about just what defines success? About what defines purpose, or good relationships, or getting what you want out of life. I got to thinking about all my drama, and all my fuck-ups, and what really I wanted to do with all of them.
I read up, I’m still reading up. I I’m still training, I’m not even over the first mountain back ready into the big scarey world out there. But I know, when I am I will be unstoppable. You can’t fail at practice:
Other people’s bullshit drama doesn’t have to be yours. Actively foster and grow your relationships.
Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a person, is to not engage them, or stop them from hurting themselves or others. Sometimes this can be harsh.
You need to know how you work. What do you tell yourself? What causes you to do what?
Don’t believe your own bullshit
A useful fiction to carry around in your mind: I am you and you are me. We are bits of the universe that happen to be aligned for a moment with enough complexity to be able to actually experience itself. We are born from and return to the same universe of stars and dirt. I am you, and you are me. We are the same stuff, just organized from different vantage points. My shit is the universe’s shit. So’s yours.
Sometimes you run into people, in bad parts of their story. That doesn’t mean they’ll always be like this.
Your possibilities are shaped by what your environment has exposed you to. You are never just yourself.
Be kind to everyone you meet. They are fighting a hard battle.
98% of the human population has no idea what the fuck they’re doing and spend a lot of time hurt and afraid.
I know the best way to make people evil: Make them hurt, afraid and alone.
I know the best way to make people good: Alleviate their suffering, alienation, and fear. Give them the opportunity to change their story to one of being good.
This re-conceptualization of myself, in terms of narrative and environment structure. Is I think, pretty alien to most people. It’s certainly alien to me, but I was already an alien. Oh I guess I forgot to mention neuroscience and Zen in all of his. I started getting back in touch with my philosophy, and I improved upon it. I started noticing that there was a lot of dove-tailing between Taoist/Zen life advice, and the CBT stuff I was reading.
They recommend mindfulness practice as enormously healthy, dialectal thinking and detachment from your worries and emotions are part of pretty much every CBT plan. I’ve found a basic description of the NAMI Relapse prevention grid in fucking ancient ass pre-science sayings and recovery methods.
It’s not all Zen, I’m picking up from everywhere, ontological philosophy, how social systems and your environment affect and create who you are, etc. In fact, another strong basis I am using is simply empiricism. It is quite simply very freeing to know “correct” ways of thinking and dealing with issues which have scientific evidence of their effectiveness behind them.
This itself to me, is like “direct pointing”, without the mysticism. There’s nothing to “believe”, you do it, and it works. You adopt the mindset, you adopt the practice, you achieve the result.
The tools of emotional and behavioral wellness and self-knowledge require a deep education. An immersive and supportive environment is the easiest way to achieve this, a humane environment. In fact, this is the most important education you can give someone. The tools of self-directed behavior, executive function, and environmental change are the most useful tools to give to people. And yet we treat emotional health and psychology as an afterthought of education, far behind test scores.
The proper aim of any educational system in a humane society is this: To produce psychologically healthy and effective adults. All other goals follow.
There would be a lot less unhealthy people. We give people these types of skills, when they’re different and nobody knows what the fuck’s going on. When they have an illness or dysfunction, that has become so bad that it has completely destroyed their life. Then we give them access to treatment, which aims to give them the tools of psychological health. This is the wrong method. We run band-aids as if they were surgery clinics.
The solution is to normalize the practical education on the science of the mind and being to everyone. Mental health is for everyone, not just the chronically sick. More-over, mental health is not an individual exercise. Environment creates mental health challenges, this means that the structure and shape of society also produce sick individuals. In America, we have a profoundly inhumane society. It treats people badly by default, and then kicks them when they are down.
It is also necessary for me to make note at which these tools are already put in practice, particularly by elements of the creative class. Agile development, GTD, books on managing cognitive load, the pomodoro technique, pair programming, these are all experimental cognitive methods at managing relationships toward a particular aim. Those with resources already practice this. Fortune 500 companies now hire mindfulness gurus for their executives.
So those who already have, already get more of this. But the technology of human psychology isn’t just practical methods of self-actualization. It’s the technology of environmental management of humans.
Stores and hotels, and well…just about everything anymore, are designed to elicit predictable behavior from human beings as they interact.
Candy and toys are put at child level to induce them to nag you for additional purchases, everything you want is put on opposite ends of the stores to make you travel through multiple isles. Last minute impulse buys are put towards the checkout counter.
Fast food restaurants design their interiors to be uncomfortable to spend large amounts of time in, to encourage more throughput. McDonald’s uses over 50 different demographic points of data to decide where to put a new store. Including race, and average traffic congestion.
Considering how pervasively corporate and political power use the tools of psychology to shape individuals and environment, I consider the lack of a psycho-social education to be the biggest threat which undermines democracy. I consider the normalization of mental health practice, and humane practice, to be one of the strongest cures for what ails my country, but also: Any country, anywhere.
Your small practices, become your big practices. Your little inhumanities become your sweat shops, working poor, prisoners, wars, genocides. And this is true especially of countries: Inhumane social institutions foster inhumane people who further inhumane social institutions.
So, anyways. I’ve found my purpose and meaning again, and for me it is both a big practice and a little practice. I know my life would have been fundamentally different had everyone I had encountered in my fostering years had access to humane tools and treatments for their own problems. So my little practice, is giving people those tools, and the big practice is creating a society that gives everyone those tools.
Edit: I do not like how wordpress reformatted this, and refuses to format it with things like Indentations and proper sentence structure but I do not know how to change this. I will look up whether or not this is just a consequence of this theme I am using and if I should use another, but I don’t see options really in the wp editor.