Archives for posts with tag: authenticity

I’m thinking about the way social media tends to give us each the impression we know all there is to know about what’s going on around us, and with the people we know, or observe from afar, as though eavesdropping a conversation in a restaurant booth behind us holds any potential to give us context and depth of understanding of the unseen faces having that conversation. It’s a misleading sense of the world, at best, and at worst… we participate in lying to ourselves, and dumbing down the world. Frustrating to attempt to have a deep conversation with a human being heavily invested in the world-via-tweet or yeah, even Instagram – my last remaining social media account. lol

…At this point, I’ve unfollowed every “influencer” (I hadn’t followed many, to begin with, because I don’t know them), and anyone who re-shares spammy bullshit, or advertising, or memes. I have limited my feed to direct relationships with people I actually know “irl”. No exceptions. It’s not about them. It’s about me; I don’t want to build shadows of relationships with distant entities who hold no potential to be “real” in my experience. I may not always like every one of the people around me… but I like them all 100% more than I hold any affection for a twitter account. LOL I mean, seriously? An ever-loving-fuck-ton of celebrities don’t even “manage” their own social media. They hire people to take care of that “workload” for them. They definitely don’t “care” about me – or you. They care about their brand. 😉

I can’t save anyone else from the impersonal science fiction abyss of dystopian disconnection. Sorry. You’ll need to crawl out on your own, if you can. It’s not actually hard, exactly, but it does require your will, and honest intent. So… verbs are involved. Choices. Practice. I kept Instagram, at least for now, simply because I enjoy sharing my photos with my actual friends, and enjoy seeing theirs. Innocent. Authentic. Rather unworldly, inasmuch as I guess I think that’s something I can have… Maybe it isn’t? I sip my coffee and wonder about that. Instagram remains a profit-generating social media platform on which I am not the consumer… I’m the product. Yick. I may need to rethink even this. lol

Snail mail, anyone?

I have been writing letters lately – a bit like the “elderly aunt” I seem to be becoming, slowly, over time. Hell, I’m okay with that. 🙂 I write a lot of email. I receive far less, but it’s not likely that a handful of emails and letters can provide a societal course correction in any detectable way. In my own experience, though, it’s quite a lovely relief from the fuss and bother, and anxiety, of a life in which every possible moment is “connected” via social media. That’s not really being connected at all, as it turns out. We’re all just shouting our opinions at each other, and sharing the ones that agree with our position, hoping to be rewarded with attention, with likes, with clicks, with a boost in personal status, or a large collection of “friends” or followers. How is that not toxic as fuck? lol

There is much less bullshit and drama in a life that is mostly pretty starved of social media. 🙂 Maybe take it for a test drive? If you were born in any year after about 1980, chances are good most of your life has been tangled up in the digital world. Take care of yourself if you do a really serious digital detox; you may be surprised to discover how actually dependent on it you are. Social media has some very drug-like qualities, and you may even be an addict. Be kind to yourself. Be patient.

I laugh for a minute. Quitting wasn’t anything like easy, and the world is just… yeah. My bank uses hashtags on their social media posts. Some of the merchants I do business with have specials that are only presented using digital coupons. Some of the artists and craftsman whose work I favor have contests that require “liking”, “subscribing” and sharing of social media items. It’s everywhere. I still walked away, because I’d rather live very authentically in the real world, such as it is, rather than become a (cognitively) fat shapeless media-fed caterpillar… without at least knowing what I will become, later on. (Pretty sure it won’t be a lovely butterfly of emotional wellness… just saying.) 😉

I finish my coffee. My thoughts continue to rattle around in my consciousness. I’ll spend time on my meditation cushion this morning, making a point to let all of this go, before I begin again, here, alive, awake, and aware, a solitary human being living in the world. ❤

A rose in my garden. You can’t smell it from a picture, or feel its silky petals – that’s only available in the world. 😉

An ordinary enough Spring morning. I’m sipping coffee. Minutes are ticking by. The cool dawn air fills the apartment. My fingers click rhythmically on the keyboard. Traffic swooshes by, beyond the driveway. I am considering the “blank page” in front of me – both actually, on this monitor, and metaphorically, this day ahead of me.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

Yesterday’s work day was productive, and felt… short. Very short. The evening that followed was delightful, connected, and relaxed. I slept well. I woke easily, just minutes ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. This cup of coffee tastes delicious. My clothes feel quite comfortable. Given this context, the fact that I feel content, merry, and relaxed, this morning, is no particular surprise, right?

This gets me thinking about context, generally. When I find myself feeling miserable for one reason (or many), it changes my outlook on everything that touches my experience. I tend to take more things personally when I am in pain, for example, even though there’s no direct connection between the physical experience of pain, and other qualities of other experiences. It colors my mood, and thus, colors my perception of my experience. If my mood, itself, can alter the way I see my experience, and if the experiences I have in life have the potential to alter my mood… is this a trap – or an opportunity? I used to feel it was a sort of sick joke, and emotional Catch-22 wherein, no matter what, the outcome was always that life sucked. One way or another, I was back to misery, pretty inevitably.

Mindfulness practices, and specifically meditation, unraveled that “trap” – turns out I set that trap myself, and caught myself regularly, fair and square. lol I did most of that to me. I mean, sure, I learned all of it somewhere, but that is so much less significant (for me) than the idea that I built that trap, maintained it with great care (and many verbs), and resisted treated myself any better for a long time with the sort of will and commitment that one generally sees from the eager or ambitious. Sort of scary, looking back, how very skillfully done all that was, and how ferociously I protected myself from any sort of healing progress, for so long. Choices.

Context matters. Where am I right now? Am I okay, right now? How do I feel? Pulling my awareness to this present moment, again and again, and allowing the bullshit narratives to fall away until I am only this human being, breathing in this moment, uncomplicated by assumptions, expectations, and clinging to what is not, there is so much less misery in my experience. This helps me sort out random frustrations, hurt feelings, poorly managed fury, dark days, weird sorrows – nearly all that mess is just made up bullshit, and I can choose differently. It’s often about context. The assumptions I make about this or that detail (or person) really fill it out and make it seem so real. It generally isn’t. I giggle, imagining a world in which everyone around us was truly the embodiment of my assumptions, my thoughts about them, instead of being who and what they actually are.

When I allow others around me to be who they are, without my assumptions and expectations clinging to me, them, or the connection we share, I can also relax and let go of any ludicrous notion about changing them, or fixing them, and just enjoy (or not) who they are, themselves. I can be who I am, too. We can share that time together authentically, and maybe even learn things from each other, and grow. If I’m clinging to a golem built of my assumptions and suppositions about them, filtered through my experience of life and projected onto them, we aren’t even really together, are we? I’m just hanging out with a different version of myself. lol It’s also much easier to be open to people, letting them be them, staying firmly “me”, myself… fewer verbs needed to be real, than to shore up an image.

Context… and authenticity. Perspective. Consideration. Awareness. Presence. All good words for a Tuesday… I think I’ll go out there into the world, with a handful of words, and a gentle heart. It’s a good beginning. 🙂

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are. It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… 😉

I am sipping my coffee and contemplating all the many times I started in therapy or began some sort of new treatment modality intending to ease my symptoms in some significant way, or to explain (or excuse) my behavior without really having to work to change it (or myself). It was both frustrating and pointless, and I didn’t get very far at all. Was it because all those different sorts of things, and all those many professionals, just weren’t effective or appropriate? Doesn’t that seem just a bit unlikely? It’s so common, though… So… What might account for how common it is for ‘therapy’ not working out, not working very effectively, or being ‘a bad fit’? I think it over and find my way to one fairly obvious conclusion; it’s the relationship.

Therapy – any sort of mental health treatment focused on interaction between professional care-giver and patient seeking treatment – is pretty intimate stuff. If I am not entirely comfortable, emotionally, with the therapist, why would I expect to get much out of it? I won’t be very likely to be open with a therapist I am uncomfortable with, would I? In such a scenario, I find myself feeling that the therapy ‘isn’t working’, when it is more properly stated that the relationship isn’t working – very understandable. So, there’s that – it’s a relationship, and requires commitment, investment, openness, trust – all the qualities any relationship must have to thrive.

There’s another characteristic, lacking which therapy is a mockery, and that is openness characterized by absolute frank forthright revealing honesty. Approaching treatment dishonestly absolutely ensures no progress is ever made, at all. Seeking a therapist who will be satisfied to take a paycheck, push some pills my way, write some notes I will never see, say nice things to me, and reassure me that I’m ‘not crazy’, allowing me to hear that as ‘it’s someone else’s fault’ (although that’s not what’s actually being said) isn’t ‘therapy’, and progress is not an outcome to be expected. It’s just more bullshit and game-playing. It’s just more drama. It is also a serious waste of limited precious life time and resources for no point; the world is generally not deceived when we play at deceiving ourselves. Certainly our loved ones are not deceived when we come home from therapy with excuses instead of progress; they are already living with our crazy, well-acquainted with our chaos and damage. It is not possible to bullshit the people we hurt with our madness for very long.

I find myself wondering if therapists and clinical professionals of all sorts find it frustrating to be aware when a client isn’t going to ‘do the work’, or when they observe that a client isn’t committed to recovering, to healing, but only to justifying their position, or excusing bad behavior? Do they experience a sense of precious time being wasted? Is the money still worth it? Is it ‘just a job’? Are they ever tempted to say out loud “I really don’t want to see you anymore, because you just aren’t making any effort”? It wouldn’t seem a fiscally good practice, if one were employed delivering therapy to people to earn a living…but… it would seem more honest, perhaps. I’ve ended treatment with a lot of practitioners of a variety of sorts (I count 14 therapists over 34 years of seeking help) – I haven’t had one end treatment with me, even when I was clearly not engaged, and getting no benefit (although two retired while treating me).

I find it, looking back, a rather sad waste of time to have paid so much money to spend time carefully crafting a narrative that resulted in hearing what I wanted so badly to hear in the moment – that I’m fine, it’s the world that’s broken, or my relationship, or my job, or… anything but having to choke on the truth that my own choices and my own behavior might have something to do with my experience, and that I might have to be accountable for the results – and responsible for making the needed changes. That may well have been the most singularly difficult step on this journey, just acknowledging that I have choices, that I am an active participant, that I am ultimately the architect of my own experience – and that I have moments when I am one fucked-up not-at-all-rational really-not-right-in-the-head fancy monkey that owes someone dear a very sincere apology, and a commitment to the real work involved in treating myself and others considerably better. It is, however, a step that had to be taken – because all the steps leading me somewhere different (and better) followed that one, and could not ever precede it.

We are each having our own experience. It’s not easy finding ‘a therapy that works’ or ‘a treatment that helps’. I find myself thinking that at least in my own case that was because it took me so long to understand that therapy involves relationships – one with the therapist, and one with the person in the mirror. Being dishonest with either definitely slows things down.

I smile and sip my coffee. I’ve been in therapy with my current therapist now since very shortly after I started this blog… February, 2013? It is the first time I’ve had the experience of mental health treatment being effective for anything beyond crisis intervention. I’m in a very different place than I once was. I’m still ‘myself’, too. My therapist is unquestionably very knowledgeable and skilled, and it is clear that the treatment modality is well-selected for my needs – both very important things, and I value those characteristics of our work together. This morning, I make time to appreciate ‘the other thing’ that seems so very much at the heart of ‘making it work’; I showed up. Seriously, I am engaged, present, open, fearlessly intimate even when completely uncomfortable, and most importantly – willing to do the actual work, the practicing of practices, the corrections in behavior, the repetition, the accountability, the utter frankness with myself and with my therapist, the willingness to embrace change; there are verbs involved. Turns out that matters a lot. “Easy” just doesn’t enter into it.

Enjoying this moment.

Enjoying this moment.

My coffee is cold now. I smile thinking about progress made, and progress to come. I think about the work day ahead, and the evening beyond it. I recall my therapist wrapping up our most recent session asking me to think about my goal for this next bit of work together and realize that what I heard was acknowledgement that at least in part, we’ve successfully completed a portion of the work we had begun so many months ago. Wow. I take a few minutes to enjoy that awareness, and to simply enjoy this woman I am, so much closer to being the woman I most want to be in my life. It’s a nice start to the day.

I’m up earlier than I really need to be, and I have the day off. I’m okay with that; it’s simply more time in my day. My coffee is tasty, and the day begins gently.

This one is a short one this morning. I am thinking about reason, assumptions, and how we human primates build so much of our understanding of the world on incomplete or inaccurate narratives we make up in our own heads. It’s worth giving some thought to, I think.

This image is not a black and white shot.

This image is not a black and white shot.

Very few things in life are as simple as we make them. Very few things are ‘black and white’ – or more accurately ‘black or not black’, ‘white or not white’; the logical rules Aristotle left for us don’t account for the rich tapestry of ‘real life’, and humanity has long since moved on from the limitations of simple Newtonian physics, too. Just saying – allowing assumptions about things in life I don’t (or can’t) really know isn’t just a limitation, it colors my experience a great deal.

Today is a good day for not knowing, and for allowing reliance on certainty to fall by the wayside. Today is a good day to be unsure. Today is a good day to be open to more possibilities, and a broader perspective. Today is a good day to abandon assumptions, and let go of expectations. Today is a good day to be open; it’s a very different world that way.