Welcome to Perspective Matters, post one! I’m excited to be doing this, although in this post I got lucky!
Enter the article I stumbled across on Facebook, that I’ve linked at the end of this blog and *RIGHT HERE* It was published on Facebook from the fairly light but thriving website arm of Psychology Today Magazine out of the USA. I don’t tend to come away loving much of the work – particularly that shared on Facebook. It’s pretty fluffy, sometimes outdated (that whole evidence-based medicine concept NOT working…. again…). I struggle as sometimes their articles are so shallow that the thirty seconds it takes to realise you’re reading one feels like a dirty waste of your time**.
But. And this is a BIG BUT that is the very reason I continue looking. But every now and then they do good, they have a writer who explains something useful in an easy to read, and constructive manner. Every now and then the grains of sand I take most articles with get put aside and replaced with a rock of profound weight. They do an excellent, accurate, balanced article that might help someone.
This is one of those. It’s going to look WAY too simple to be profound at first, I think. But the slight, very simple shift it highlights and changes DOES make a difference. A huge one. This kind of difference, depending on the person needing or making it – this has the potential to affect life and death. And it shows you how to consolidate positive and negative concepts – about yourself – concurrently, while also avoiding adding more than is necessary.
It’s just one of those things I’m fairly sure I’ve screamed at people to try to make them ‘see’ this. Someone worked out the article version, so ta for that, now.
I suggest you have a read of the article (in full don’t sneak back here part way through). Again **RIGHT HERE** is the link.
Welcome back 🙂
As the blog title suggests it’s pretty straightforward. The two perspectives in the ring today are ‘working on myself’ and ‘I’m doing radical self-acceptance for growth’.
The second one doesn’t quite roll of the tongue – but we need a way because as the article pulls apart, the minor negative in the first one can ruin it all.
” We grow more assuredly as we embrace our human vulnerabilities, which means slowing down, noticing and befriending our genuine feelings, and hearing what they might be trying to tell us. For example, we might notice sadness or shame, which might prompt us to address a concern in a relationship or to make amends to someone we’ve hurt.”
This is the start of being able to self-assess objectively. The goal is to balance self-compassion and self-judgment. Don’t deny either. Be proud of your improvement but don’t dismiss or deny where you started. The goal is not to let pride in yourself inflate to inaccurate sense of high ego, while not allowing shame in yourself to descend you into the immobilised pits of self-loathing and pity.
You balance the sides and you’ll be able to learn how to stay in the middle – honest, NOT detached, but able to feel both together in complementary levels.
Oh. Cognitive Dissonance. Learn what it feels like when it happens to you. Then DO IT. ALL THE TIME. Desensitise yourself to this phenomenon. It’s hard to get the hang of or gist of, but when you learn – well. You won’t be able to stop playing Perspective Matters with me, you’ll be able to see all sorts of conflicting stuff without feeling it.
You’ll also learn in that how to balance in the middle of you ego range, too. As mentioned above – self-pity and high ego are opposite ends of the same mechanism. Your ego is a victim, licking its wounds in the corner of hard done by. Your inflated ego is deciding nothing negative that involves you matters anymore. The latest deed/discovery is the ONLY relevant one (funnily enough this is ANOTHER type of logical fallacy our brains fall into on autopilot!). The most dangerous aspect of this state – you forget the bad. You forget what shame feels like. You forget how it feels to watch someone you care about hurting. You forget – and you don’t have any further motivation to make an effort.
So you don’t, because you’re amazing (sarcasm!). Then oops, you carelessly have hurt a loved one. OMG Hiiiii SHAME! Been so long! Yep. It’s back. And you’re just as incapable of effectively managing it on this new occurrence because you didn’t stop to learn how to balance your pieces. Your fallible humanity.
I speak from personal experience, as a doer and a helper and a watcher (I always speak from these roles, along with ‘I spent years researching for more hours than a full time job, and within that I check out what I state as ‘truth’. If it’s not I call it my hypothesis. If it’s partly proven or shoring up to be – theory. If purely I saw someone – anecdote. If it’s just a thought and I’ve not got backup yet – I’ll say.
If I say ‘this is this’ its because I’ve reached a point where I am convinced beyond doubt it is accurate.
PS ‘the most right’ thing – ANOTHER logical fallacy!
Our brains are cheeky, and we MUST remember autopilot exists PURELY for survival purposes. Autopilot is where we all start and self-awareness is where we’re going, I guess. They are opposites. Autopilot is you with your hands off the wheel, taking a nap – the world happens to you and you don’t do a thing about that.
Ok. So the following paragraphs are two experiences that I had at different times after beginning to get into this stuff. It was 2002 when I started this specific avenue, I remember it clearly!
I did whatever it took to learn to explore and fairly quickly found a nice little constant shame trigger. It was a big one too – the shame/guilt/regret and so on that were felt with even half a second of memory, image or thought… wow… I didn’t start slow! This super intense one (shame etc is over my choices/behaviour in a particular situation) – was one of my first self-explore, get real, find my flaws things I found. It was with something I’d carried for some years. I had to stop running away from it and make myself relive it, feel it, act as best I could to correct it and then balance it.
ADHD is a hotbed of rumination. This is an incredible gift (if you’re told that you can tease out some positives) but primarily it is a nasty, cruel awake-nightmare. Not helpful with this. But you learn how to SEE that influence, limitation or explanation, work out what can or cannot be done about it, and neutralise however you can.
The most recent similar one for me, I think, was reconnecting (aka Stalking LOL) with a friend on Facebook, who needed to hear a genuine apology from me. The reason I say that so assuredly is not because I’m so clever for ‘knowing’ – if I’d been clever I would have an apology owing – but because I needed to find her to give it to her and she later got the chance to tell me how what I did affected her (it was via letter, and we never spoke again after).
I couldn’t comfortably live with myself if I did nothing for my scathing viciousness sent her way 20 years ago. And yeah, it’s worth it.
Am I absolved from guilt on those two examples (or the rest)? NOT EVEN CLOSE. Do I know I have faced the depths of my behaviour, seen them for what they are, and then offered the most sincere apology, born from regret for hurting other people who I could offer – and doing so honestly because I didn’t need to downplay or dismiss the enormity/horribleness of my actions? Yeah.
And before you say, oh 20 years ago? It’s so old, why bother, excuses like ‘just kids’ – whatever way you can see to minimise, rationalise and justify an excuse not to hate what I did… That apology mattered to her. A lot. To me, a lot. To know she may have needed me to give it to heal some of the wounds I inflicted as a child? WOW. I’m SO glad I did this. I’m so glad I was able to see myself, and see that it mattered. To make the effort to get it to her. If I could change it, I would, go back and never do it – never believe the lies of a troubled child. Slow down. Check. Ask questions. NOT ASSUME. Whatever… Of course, I would. But I am SO grateful she bothered to read it. I’m SO glad I made the effort to find her because MY actions had been following us both around for 2/3 of our lives. I’d sentenced us both with that action. So while it may be glad that I feel for being able to lift that – I am VERY LUCKY that she let me do it.
But it was only by digging into my demons, my depths, and finding what I could act on, change or do something about that let me do my duty and give an apology I’ve owed for 2 decades. It’s better than having a near panic attack at the SHAME every time it flashes into the back of memory somewhere, shoving it down before my face burnt up and I died from the self-loathing and disgust.
Those – try to go hard early! Find the ones you cannot bear the most. That are worst. Deal with those first. Once the biggest stuff is done you’ll be a pro at balancing. You can absolutely do it. Get help if needed (psych, friend, journal, spouse, etc). Do whatever you have to do, to get it out.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY! Once its out you MUST act to right it. In any way you have available to you (no matter how large or small your options). MAKE IT RIGHT. Get your friends or lovers or dogs around to give you a hand. Maybe they can help you identify a way or ways that you can atone for your choices. Yes – even if you were twelve years old. I wrote one letter at twelve, and it matters. I had support at the time so I didn’t get scared OR do anything fake, bullshitty or stupid/shallow/insincere.
Instead I get to be grateful. Always sorry for having done it, yes. But grateful I found her and got to say I was insanely cruel that day. Grateful she gave me the time to read what I said. And grateful that she forgave me, we got to talk about it – and we can interact now easily as Facebook friends – I can honestly interact without feeling so much shame that I can’t move and therefore have to ignore her. She can interact knowing I’ve made an effort not to let myself be the person who said the things I did then.
Radical self-acceptance. It is NOT accepting your past negative behaviours and the bad things you’ve done as being ‘out of your control’, therefore you are absolved of all guilt and shame without any action whatsoever – not even a true admission that these things exist. The popularity of that interpretation (by those needing to do it, of course) is phenomenal. And wrong.
You accept you’re human. Then you deal with it. You do NOT self-pity, self-attack, self-criticise. You do not do ANYTHING.
It is not your place to respond to your negative traits with punitive punishments. You need to make them right, for balance. Balance IS the core of the universe. Of that I am convinced. Forgive but do not forget – like you would with others. But to forgive means you turn around and look forwards. Stop staring and a has-been moment.
Radical self-acceptance says – I’m constantly learning new things about who I am and that’s OK. I can hear negativity about me or my behaviour and I can find my OWN examples of when it occurs. I can say ok you think I’m selfish… Oh here, here and here in the last week/month (etc.) I really was selfish. Yep that’s a true assessment. Atone by apology and commit to self to act in a more personable and compassionate manner.
And then one thing left. Moving on. Working not to do it again as best you can while looking to see what other lurking bad behaviours you don’t want to keep around.
And it’s true, just by calling it the other name – it feels like a way more positive action you’re taking. Working on yourself suggests you’re broken or somehow wrong. Being human is as not wrong as you could be, so that cannot be it. Practice radical self-acceptance, so you can do some personal growth and see why people get so excited about being self aware! Even the non hippy atheists like myself.
The method to all of this seemingly bizarre madness (if new to you it may well sound just so!)?
Ladies and gents please, calm yourselves. Stop straining against your shackles, allow the back of head hair to set back down. It is NOT a bad word… let me explain!
Mindfulness meditation is NOT the ‘impossible meditaty thing I cannot do because HOW DO YOU NOT THINK’. Instead, you take a few minutes to only think of your present – think the sentences that tell you all the sounds. The sensations within reach. The changes to the environment with and without eyes closed. Start there. That meditation I can do because that is how ADHD wires our brain to notice the world anyway. It’s a paradox title and descriptor – deficit (opposite) can’t concentrate (doing it to everything all at once all consciously). So it turned out I had been doing it my whole life, mostly, already.
Mindfulness as a paradigm shift is a little more than that and I may do a further blog on it as a ‘lifestyle’ in coming days.
This one I talk about a lot in my daily life, but only because I think it has an undeserved stigma, that is leading to people who are more like me (logical, sciencey, atheistic, non-hippyish, etc) skipping what could be an INCREDIBLE tool in their life. Don’t be so quick to judge, the logicals and rationals. Not only is it not really either of those to judge too quickly, but you may be surprised at the level of SCIENTIFIC evidence, history and very much ‘conservative Western society’ this Mindfulness thing is. Yes, the hippies do it! Yes the Buddhists have a type. But before that cancels it out consider how grumpy it must make a Buddhist to hear my Karma concept! Just read the research, naysayers!
Mindfulness is NOT AT ALL new age lala thing… It is JUST about being present in the moment, and aware of it. It’s so… useful. It’s learning to observe yourself – objectively – in any moment as you HONESTLY are. It’s hard as hell to get there but it’s so worth it… This article is about personal growth, and the way a perspective shift sort of shines a logic-light on how much sense it makes to do this. It makes a great point about the negative connotations in ‘working on yourself’ (Are you broken? Have your CV joints worn out?). It’s NOT an airy fairy website, either. If anyone has ever done CBT treatment in psychology? YOU are more than half way to mindful already 🙂 It’s basically becoming conscious of the same things, but in each moment. In real-time.
I can’t recommend you consider this enough. The man who helped me get past my own bias and find the open mind I’d sort of started to lose was a Captain in the AU Navy for 20 years. He is bald, he is intimidating, and he is every bit the picture of his history. He’s also a psychologist who specialised in pharmacology for his PhD, and LOVES how effective and useful mindfulness is.
**This is my personal opinion and one that really built its strength on the back of many months reading nothing but heavy data based research. It’s not that they are bad – or that they aren’t covering what most other psychology media is covering – they just tend to be light, often not very confronting and a bit like bubbles in water… to ME. On the flip side, PT have created an extensive, free resource online giving readers worldwide heaps of information, links, and even the chance to find help (via their find a therapist menu). That is not to be sniffed at, and they should be commended for responsible interneting. So ^sincere claps* PT for your easy breezy accessible mental health website.**
ANOTHER LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE: CLICK HERE! Thanks to the author, John Amodeo, PhD. for having the excerpt from his book available for view (and my ranting).