Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chill the serious mood, and do whatcha like

The first step is to realize that everything you do is done by choice. Not all are explicit decisions made by the feeling you would call "you" (IE. conscious choices), and not all will be made by a logical part of your brain. Yet, some part of your brain worked on each decision made. The next step is to realize when you're purposefully making choices you don't want to make. You can do this by just being aware and taking note of when you're not doing what you want to. Such choices are probably made by something neurotic in your brain. We all have miswirings, perhaps some incorrect belief that somehow has been reinforced through years of repeated misperception. Often your undesirable behavior is done to protect some other part of you, something your subconscious is doing without letting you in on. So the next step is to determine why your brain is making those choices. The way to do that is to simply ask it, and the way to axe your subconscious something is through meditation.

Once you understand why you are making the choices you are, the next step is to correct whichever you consider to be wrong. I suppose this requires a bit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy auto-headshrinking. Your brain should tell you what it's trying to do. So either you have to convince your brain that it's wrong (and repeat as necessary until the right wires are strong enough for you to believe), or accept that your brain is right, and that you must make whatever changes are needed to various aspects of your life to let your mind grow beyond this current roadblock.

When you've done this, you should have now taken full responsibility for your behavior. What about taking responsibility for what happens to you? You can't fix or control what other people do to you, but you can change how you react to them. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to be thinking of your best interests all the time, so if at any time you need someone to be doing what's best for you, it may have to be you who's doing it. The first step is accepting that it is your own choices, and not someone else's, that control how you feel and what actions you take. A divinely enlightened individual might be able to be stabbed in the back by a stranger, and find the silver lining in that dark cloud, but that type of extreme self-control isn't what you're after (not to mention that you may *want* to feel unhappy about being stabbed in the back). What you are after is the feeling that you are making the best decisions in any given situation, and are at least in control of your own behavior. The next step is to find out why you react the way you do to the things that happen or that people have done to you. Again, just axe yourself, through meditation. The next step is to change your behavior. Again, you can train yourself to accept that your reaction was wrong, and let your brain know how you wanted it to react. Or, if your reaction was correct, change the aspects of your life that let you be susceptible to these outside influences.

Be careful, however, not to trick yourself into thinking that changing your behavior will get you exactly what you want. After all, other people still have full control over how they react to you. So, if your thoughts are all working 100%, and your actions are all working 100%, the next thing to tackle is dealing with people in a way that maximizes your chances of a satisfactory response. The first step is to understand how others react to you; the next step is to understand why; and the next is to figure out a better reaction and reverse-engineer an action that you could instead take to perhaps achieve said reaction. This all involves psychology, empathy, the ability to see your actions from another's perspective and simulate or predict not only their reaction, but also their counteraction. You should never expect to be perfect at this, if you are dealing with humans and not robots. Some easy advice is to just do your best and not worry too much about it. You might try meditation to imagine how you would feel in someone else's situation, but I'd recommend against trying to meditate on another person's thoughts (They say that meditating on others puts undue mental stress on them. This may manifest itself in subtle ways, such as you treating the other differently because you're basing your interaction on something you only imagined, etc. It is better to deal with people in person rather than in your imagination). Regardless, being consciously aware of what reactions your actions may induce, will go a long ways toward helping you avoid inducing bad ones.

Finally, there are things that happen to us over which we have no control and which relate not at all to any choices we make. The first step and the best way to handle this is to simply accept it. Learn to find peace with a Buddhist-like acceptance of impermanence. Know that nothing, whether good or bad, is here forever, so let it go gently and without regret. For anything that happens despite your best laid choices, you can believe it's "just the fuckin way she goes."

For your health!

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