Posts tagged #sadness

What to do in life: notes for those who have failed and are incredibly depressed

 I want to congratulate you on your devastating failure.

YAY! You've utterly failed! YESSSSS!

I am completely serious and not trying to be mean. I am truly, really, honestly happy for you. I'm thrilled, in fact.

I'm thrilled because you're an adult and you have no idea what to do in life.  Oh, it's not like  you never knew what to do.  You once did.  But Your Best Plan completely did not work.  In fact, it not only didn't work, it blew up in your face just like your face was Hiroshima and your plan was the atom bomb.  Thanks a lot, Harry Truman.

Now you're living in the nuclear winter of your discontent. You bitterly regret all that has transpired. You might feel like harming yourself.  At best, you probably feel like laying in your bed and only getting up to microwave a Hot Pocket, shove it in your face, read gossip blogs, smoke cigarettes and call your mom while hysterically crying.  At least that's all I felt like doing for six weeks when it happened to me.

That's okay.  Have all the Hot Pockets you want. But don't harm yourself.  You're a precious jewel. I don't care if you've massively fucked up.  My favorite people are the ones who have massively fucked up.  They're the really interesting ones.

So instead of hating yourself this as a way of finding what to do in life:

1) Take a moment to appreciate your uncomfortable state of being really clueless about what to do in life.  It hurts. Horrifically.  I know.

But! The fact that you're open and curious now about how to live life has put you leagues ahead of most human beings.

2) Consider how much your original plan, the one that failed so painfully and spectacularly, centered all around the effort  to gain security and pleasure and power for yourself.

This effort is called "self-cherishing." It's the act of trying to gather things up to make yourself safe and pleased.

It's pretty much everyone's default plan. The thing is, it doesn't really work. Think of how your self-cherishing has put in you in conflict with other people, especially with people that you love, and how much pain this conflict has caused you.

It's true that some people half-assedly make self-cherishing sorta kinda seem to work their whole lives.  They never wind up in the writhing state of abject misery which you now occupy.  But the thing is, they never really get the giant light bulb of freedom to go off either.  The fact that you're in total despair means you're unbelievably close, closer than all the middlingly okay people! - to genuine, deep awesomeness.

4)  Understand that you don't have to continue with your self-cherishing.

I know it doesn't feel that way.  It doesn't feel like you have an option way because you're addicted to it.  Self-cherishing is your smack, my junkie friend.  And you've overdosed.  It's either get clean now, die ingloriously, or dwell in derelection.

So know that you really can try something else.  Something very radically different.

It's called "other-cherishing" and it's the act of devoting yourself to the well-being of others rather than to the service of your own pleasure and comfort.

Hmmmmmmmm. I can tell if you're anything like me you're probably not too keen on this idea.

5) Don't feel bad that your mind immediately recoils at the thought of other-cherishing.

My mind recoiled intensely from it for years. "But I'm a human being, too! Who's going to cherish me?  If I devote myself to serving others, I'll just be taken advantage of and nothing good will be left for me.  Besides, there's way too many people out there, human suffering is too overwhelming.  There's nothing I can do that would truly benefit everyone."

6) Contemplate this answers to your objection: if you give up self-cherishing, the whole universe will cherish you.

The universe freaking LOVES people who are earnestly surrendering their self-cherishing more than preteen girls love Justin Bieber.  And that is a lot of love, guys.

Why? Because that's what life, the universe, and everything have wanted you to do all along.  Once you start to give up self-cherishing, everything else you do becomes massively easier and takes on much greater, more satisfying meaning. Synchronicities start whirling and the blessings start raining down.  They were there waiting for you.  But in the past they were too repelled by your grasping and greed.  Grasping and greed are repulsive.  They repel good fortune.

And also, actually, there is something you can do to benefit everyone.  You can liberate yourself from your own self-cherishing. I know I may be sounding repetitive here, but listen. This is massively, hugely beneficial.  It's so beneficial that the human race joyously celebrates for thousands of years people who have done it, people like Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the Buddha and Rumi and Mirabai and St. Francis.   You can wake up from your nightmare of chasing security and pleasure.  As soon as you do this, you'll no longer generate conflicts everywhere you go.  Instead you'll create joy and be a place of kind refuge and calm for others.

To understand this, just consider how much pain others have given you when they've behaved in self-centered, self-cherishing ways and trampled over your feelings.  Your own self-cherishing has caused at least that much pain for others.  If you relinquish it, you'll stop causing that pain.  You won't be irritable and easily offended.  Instead, you'll be welcoming and warm to be around.  Folks won't have to tip-toe on egg shells around you.  They'll feel honored and loved in your presence.  And this means there's a good chance that they will be inspired to surrender their own self-cherishing just by knowing you.  They'll succeed, and then they'll go around inspiring others to do the same.  Everyone will get freer and freer, safer and safer, happier and happier.  It's a virtuous circle.

Literally, you can deeply contribute to everyone waking up from the nightmare.

7) Consider that your belief that you can't give up self-cherishing isn't true.

I certainly used to believe that giving it up was impossible- I could see that it would be theoretically great to be able to let go of my self-centeredness, but I just had no notion how to do that.

At some level, I didn't really want to learn because I still thought I could make self-cherishing work for me.  Well, that turned out to be assuredly not the case.

Happily for you and for me, the processes for ending self-cherishing do exist if you've had enough of your confused pain and you're willing to try something radically different.  The four immeasurables cultivation and tonglen are a great place to start and can go a very long way to rubbing out your self-cherishing. Try them yourself.

8) Seriously.  Tell yourself that every day for a month you'll do four immeasurables cultivation and the meditation on exchanging yourself with others.

And then do it.  Make it a higher priority than watching cute cat videos on youtube.

9) The more you do those practices, the more clear everything else will become.

Your whole mental and emotional make up will shift.  Your perception will no longer be so distorted.  Your creativity will activate like never before.  You'll know what to do.

10) Write to me and tell me how it's going: sweetsongofjoy at gmail dot com.  I would love to know.

 

 

What Is Unconditional Love

Love Without Limits

Unconditional love is the decision to never enact emotional violence against yourself or anyone else, ever.  It's a decision that's radical and deeply freeing.

You can become free of self-hatred and misery, free from patterns of suffering that keep you stuck. It doesn't matter if your problem is sucky romantic relationships or a job that torments you or a giant creative block or a compulsion to use substances or engage in dangerous behaviors.  It just doesn't matter what your problem is because all problems manifest from one thing: a lack of love.  If you become willing to apply simple spiritual principles in your life (love; forgiveness; hospitality; generosity; honesty; hope - and the greatest of these is love) without condition and without reservation, then your life can turn into a stunning glitter bomb of joy and possibility and magic.

I know that this is true because I went from being someone who shot heroin every day and wanted to die, someone whose primary concern in life was whether or not I could get enough drugs that day to numb the stunning pain of the problem of being me to being someone who wakes up every morning soaked in gratitude and thrilled to be myself - even when I'm broke, even when I'm single, even when I've failed at major projects that were dear to me.  This same self that I literally wanted to murder - I now cherish and delight in, without condition and without limit.

The Unconditional Decision

How did I get to this point? It happened because I decided to give myself huge joy and love and respect no matter what. What does that mean? It means that no matter what I do, no matter what happens - I'm going to feel great. "Carolyn - you mean, even if you kill somebody you're not going to feel guilty, you're not going to feel shame?"  And my answer to that is: yes, precisely. There's nothing I could do which I would not utterly forgive myself for, and forgiving myself means letting myself feel happy and wonderful. It means refusing to ever reject or punish myself, for any reason.  And the thing is, when I'm willing to give myself unconditional love, unconditional kindness- which really just means I'm willing to never impose shame and regret on myself - when I have that willingness, I'm without violence in my heart.  I would never want to hurt someone or kill someone because I feel so damn happy and loving.

Sometimes people think I'm crazy when I mention the unconditionalness and unlimitedness of my love for myself.  And that's okay - they can think I'm crazy and they can tell me all about the conditions under which they believe that shame and regret and guilt are appropriate.  Usually these conditions are situations of violence.  What the people who tell me this don't understand is that regret and guilt and shame are themselves forms of violence: inner violence, emotional violence.  The use of them creates more violence.  Do you think that people who hurt and abuse other people are filled with self-acceptance and joy? No; they're filled with shame and regret and bitterness and rage.  They're inwardly filled with emotional violence and that violence manifests outwardly as harm to others and harm to themselves.

What I've learned over the years is any limit I'm willing to put on the love I give myself is a limit I'm willing to put on the love that I give you and the love that I give the universe.  And the smallest, most seemingly reasonable limit becomes a giant dam that plugs up the flow of delight and wonder in my life.  So I don't mess around with making up limits on love any more.  I just give it all, all the time, without holding back, without trying to play it safe.

A Limit On Love is An Attempt to Control 

I realized that any time I'm seeking to limit love, what I'm doing is trying to control.  I'm trying to control myself to make myself fit into some "acceptable" mode.  I'm trying to control you; to control the whole world.  But it's impossible.  Any time that I try to control something, I end up in pain.  The magic that I am, that you are, that the world is - is quite beyond control.  Have you noticed? I did - I saw that no matter how much energy I put into making myself acceptable I always fell short - I always found reason to regret something I'd done, something I'd said, something I'd failed to do.  And what I realized is that regret, shame and guilt - they're all forms of violence against myself, they're feelings but they're actually the result of  a belief that's a weapon.  What is that weapon?  It's the belief that I'm not always already fundamentally good, that I'm not fundamentally perfect and whole and valuable and innocent.

By becoming willing to be happy and grateful in all situations - even in situations when I've failed or where someone or something has failed me -- I can practice unconditional love, I can practice the truth that undoes the lie that myself or anyone else is less than wholly good, wholly innocent, wholly wonderful as God created them to be.

 

 

 

 

 

image: [Lel4nd]