Mindfulness


two wolves After putting some thought on my current everyday experiences, I reflected a great deal about just what the root cause for some of my current perspectives were bound to.  Again the discovery of being “mindful” is an important factor in reexamining prior perspectives that may be operating in the background of our everyday thoughts.  While we manage our day to day experiences, our possible misdirected thoughts are fed into our analysis for each and every day and if they go unchecked, they will skew our conclusions.  The information we receive from the eyes don’t amount to much, if the mind is blind.  Being “Mindful” is being aware of the false conclusions one can draw if one is misdirected by prior incorrect habitual modes of thinking that may not be accurate.  They may indeed be formed earlier in ones life, but continue to influence that person through-out their lives if these principles in their analyses go unquestioned, unexamined, and unchallenged in the process.

The practice of attention enables one to wake up! Awareness transforms experience. There is no right or wrong way; there is only being more or less conscious. The goal is to become more fully conscious of ourselves, not to correct ourselves. Because they rely on memory, efforts at self-correction are always removed from the immediacy of the moment.
Jealousy – unconsciously give way to hatred. Struggle against it by thinking equates to guilt. We must instead examine the thought itself and attempt to understand the context. Thought and feelings can then become windows to awakening.

Right Thinking was examined by Gautama Buddha and incorporated in his Eightfold Path that reveals some of the challenges of how the mind can distort experience.

“Thoughts” as Emerson put it, “rule the world” for the simple reason that thoughts determine feelings and actions. We can think ourselves into happiness or a deep depression. Evidence can show that we can think ourselves into healthy state or into unhealthy illnesses.
We can think ourselves into a narrow, limited world characterized by procrastination and paralysis, or we can think ourselves into a noble creative life and the actions that give it shape and substance. If we only take care of our thoughts, our feelings and actions will take care of themselves.
For better or worse, we give to others the fruits of our own thinking by the same token, we are influenced by the thinking of those with whom we associate.  It certainly helps to make friends with people who have made friends with their own minds. Observe people who are chronically bored or depressed, and you will find they dwell on negative thoughts. Observe people who are consistently happy, creative, and productive, and you will find remarkable similarities in the quality of their thinking.  By our thinking, we create our individual and collective experience of reality.  Changing our thinking for the better improves the quality of our own lives, and in doing, uplifts all around us.

The subconscious patterns of thought that can emerge out of an individuals upbringing, training, or exposure from a previous time in their lives to ineffective measures of dealing with their experience in the world can duly proselytize that persons mind set.  What is even more difficult to circumvent is the dream states these people experience and are susceptible to unpleasant derivations of their conscious lives if the sleeping untrained mind continues to revert to the faulty subconscious training from an older learned program from the past when they dream.  Since they are unconscious in a dream state, the mind will resort to programming fed from the unconscious mind that often takes hold of their dreams.

When Desperation Leads To Aspiration


08-lighthouse

An empty place inside me visits when I feel no connection to others beside me.  I feel abandoned by those whom I have known at times when in need.  I must admit that I have sought out others for solace, yet I am known more for my alliance with seclusion much of the time.  I tend to turn inwards more than to seek others.  My early life has comprised itself with members whom have not mitigated some of life’s lessons when I was younger.  I did receive some good counsel but my memory still concedes to instruction that was either not very effective, deficient, or downright contemptible.  I wonder if that has some bearing on my disposition for solitude.  I do not hold any ill will towards those aforementioned, as I realize one must not live in the past.  The wounds of the child sometimes stay deep within me, my invisible scars, but I seek to focus on the teachings learned later in life’s journey.  The wounds sustained in childhood can and often do remain with us for a lifetime.  But as in any journey, we make choices on paths that come before us.

I found that I turned to my educators to find out answers that might complete my inadequate feelings about myself and thinking about the world.  In my studies in speech communications and psychology courses I learned that we as humans will comprehend more from how a person says something, than what is actually said!  The body language and the non-verbal dynamic of communication is far more powerful than just the verbal dynamic, hence, the ethical statements such as Mathew 23:3 which states….”All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”  (King James version)
Also noted are the parental affirmations of this concept when they exclaim “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Looking back, the acquisition and purpose of my studies were not for the job quest, but rather an ardent search for an education that would answer my questions about the best possible life.  As in the words of John Lennon…”You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”

The road of self-reliance is a difficult path, but a path that can result in a greater capacity for free thinking, and resourcefulness, and thus magnifies ones assessment aptitude.  The downside, is that one may stumble many times before the lessons are learned in the social arenas.

Amongst the jackals and exploiters of the world that I have met head-on; I have had to shield and fend for myself in the process.  (A jackal is one who allows themselves to be used).  The proliferation of souls that feed off of others only shows me that many have not been shown a way to better their existence.  I also do remember having met some very charming people and inspirational experiences that have balanced out those times of misfortune that cross our paths, but the most hurtful experiences are those who are actually in your family; the ones that you should be able to trust the most.  The betrayals of family members happens more often than not and is part of our mutual experience in everyday life.  I should also add that many have probably had a similar circumstance in dealing with these social happenings and I do not see them as a significant adversity for most cases.  I think them to actually be fairly common.  Unfortunately there are also those cases that are far from the norm, continue to exist and leave many to be disposed to some very hellish tribulations.

confucius

The shocking truth is that my disposition tends to lead me to the profiles outlined in the ASCA or Adults Surviving Child Abuse.  Researching some of these characteristics I found some resources that leave me in utter dismay when looking at some of the correlations to my conduct.  Though I do not think I would fit into a classic case outlined here, I must admit there are some strikingly familiar similarities when looking at the cases of emotional abuse experienced in childhood.

Emotional abuse refers to the psychological and social aspects of child abuse, and it is one of the main causes of harm to abused children.

Many parents are emotionally abusive without being violent or sexually abusive, However, emotional abuse invariably accompanies physical and sexual abuse. Emotionally abusive parents practice forms of child-rearing that are orientated towards fulfilling their own needs and goals, rather than those of their children. Their parenting style may be characterized by overt aggression towards their children, including shouting and intimidation, or they may manipulate their children using more subtle means, such as emotional blackmail. Parents may also emotionally abuse their children by “mis-socialising” them, which means that they may encourage their children to act in inappropriate or criminal ways with direct encouragement and/or by surrounding the child with adults for whom such behavior is normative.

Signs in childhood

From infancy to adulthood, emotionally abused people are often more withdrawn and emotionally disengaged than their peers, and find it difficult to predict other people’s behavior, understand why they behave in the way that they do, and respond appropriately.

Emotionally abused children show a range of specific signs. They often:

  • feel unhappy, frightened and distressed
  • behave aggressively and anti-socially, or they may act too mature for their age
  • experience difficulties with academic achievement and school attendance
  • find it difficult to make friends
  • show signs of physical neglect and malnourishment
  • experience incontinence and mysterious pains.

Signs in adulthood

Adults emotionally abused as children are more likely to experience mental health problems and difficulties in personal relationships. Many of the harms of physical and sexual abuse are related to the emotional abuse that accompanies them, and as a result many emotionally abused adults show a range of complex psychological and psychosocial problems associated with multiple forms of trauma in childhood (Glaser 2002).

Significant early relationships in childhood shape our response to new social situations in adulthood. Adults with emotionally abusive parents are at a disadvantage as they try to form personal, professional and romantic relationships, since they may easily misinterpret other people’s behaviors and social cues, or misapply the rules that governed their abusive relationship with their parent to everyday social situations (Berenson and Anderson 2006).

Merely refraining from abusive behaviors will do nothing to improve a relationship, though it may slow its rate of deterioration. To repair the harm done, there must be a corresponding increase in compassion on the part of the abuser. Abusers do not change by receiving compassion; they change by learning to give it. Emotional abuse does not result from storms of anger; it emerges during droughts of compassion.

Now it is too common for students in an abnormal psychology class to view abstracts and read the DSM-5 (formerly known as DSM-V) and suddenly relate to some of the disorders discussed within the pages.  (DSM -5 is the planned fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  In my day my abnormal psyche class used the DSM-III in the mid-eighties and I found out that many of my classmates had some interesting discoveries about themselves, until my professor set them at ease stating the cases in more detail and putting their minds at rest.  Can you imagine thinking that you may have schizophrenic characteristics or some other mental disorder just by comparatively reading about symptoms or cases and as you are studying the material you begin to start applying it to your own behaviors?

For whatever the reasons I think I have come to recognize the terms with my unresolved childhood dilemma’s about my upbringing and worked some of them out.  I must say that I am not in bereavement about those days since they have opened my eyes to looking at the world in a certain way.  I certainly admit that I do struggle at times when some of those memories come up, but I find that the sensitivity felt in this case can be a collaborator and not a crutch.  The term I think for this outlook may be “resilience” to such factors and quite possibly the strengthening ingredient in my illustration.  Understanding the nineteen-sixties also gives us some perspectives on the why it happens.  Emotional abuse can, and does, happen in all types of families, regardless of their background. Most parents want the best for their children. However, some parents may emotionally and psychologically harm their children because of stress, poor parenting skills, social isolation, lack of available resources or inappropriate expectations of their children. They may emotionally abuse their children because the parents or caregivers were emotionally abused themselves as children.

Emotionally abusive behavior is anything that intentionally hurts the feelings of another person. Since almost everyone in intimate relationships does that at some time or other, emotionally abusive behavior must be
distinguished from an emotionally abusive relationship, which is more than the sum of emotionally abusive behaviors.

In emotionally abusive relationships, one party systematically controls the other by undermining his or her confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotional stability, or by provoking fear or shame to manipulate or exploit.

It’s important to note emotional abuse is about the effects of behavior, not the words used. You can say the most loving words with sarcasm and
silently communicate contempt through body language, rolling eyes, sighs, grimaces, tone of voice, disgusted looks, cold shoulders, banging dishes, stonewalling, cold shoulders, etc. There are dozens of ways to be emotionally abusive…

Steven Stosny concludes…

Merely refraining from abusive behaviors will do nothing to improve a relationship, though it may slow its rate of deterioration. To repair the harm done, there must be a corresponding increase in compassion on the part of the abuser. Abusers do not change by receiving compassion; they change by learning to give it. Emotional abuse does not result from storms of anger; it emerges during droughts of compassion.

From fear to freedom, from despair to an awakening, I have seen the emotional gamut via personal experience as well as considering that one definition also conversely defines the other.  The understanding of these emotional boundaries illuminates the capacity for our experience and teaches us the wisdom of aspiration.  The brilliance of the human mind is the seemingly infinitesimal synaptic connections and associations that allow us to circumvent adversity with ingenuity which we can pave even through the anguish of suffering.  The unfortunate burden we have is balancing the emotional and the intellectual aspects of our understandings.  I believe it takes the spirit, the drive, or the “gut” response to complete the process.  If you subscribe to the tripartite mind, then you will understand the argument made here.  We are not just the sum total of our feelings, thoughts, and desires, but rather in the synthesis of these attributes there resides the spark and the essence of our being.  Beyond the limitations of our personalities, each of us exists as a vast, largely unrecognized quality of being or presence-what is called our Essence.  Real self knowledge is an invaluable guardian against self-deception.  As much as traversing the enneagram paradigm in that it can reveal the spiritual heights that we are capable of attaining, it also sheds light clearly and non-judgmentally on the aspects of our lives that are dark and unfree.
Meditations and having “presence” (awareness, mindfulness), and the practice of self-observation (gained from self-knowledge), and understanding what one’s experiences mean, is the beginning of the process to undertake a transformation for yourself.

Helen Keller

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

Søren Kierkegaard

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Voltaire

“I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow.”
Voltaire
•••

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

The long shadow

The Invisible Scar

http://www.havoca.org

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An Unexamined Life


narcissus

What is the cost of living a life that undergoes no reflection?  In Plato’s Apology, Socrates said…”The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.”  I respectfully take this quote to emphasize a different problem in human history.

In a case study for purpose of expose, I know a man who I could say had not ever really looked deeply into his life, had not deeply looked into his behavior, and has never really learned from his mistakes.  If asked, he could not connect the behavior to the problems that arise out of the experience.  To him there was no problem, to him, there was no reckoning because he simply ignored it, or dismissed it.  In this case he probably is a level 5 type 8 Enneagram candidate: Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering.  Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating.  Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable.  Their basic fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others, their basic desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny).  Level 5: Begin to dominate their environment, including others: want to feel that others are behind them, supporting their efforts. Swaggering, boastful, forceful, and expansive: the “boss” whose word is law.  Proud, egocentric, want to impose their will and vision on everything, not seeing others as equals or treating them with respect.

There exists in our humanity a sickness of the soul that equates might equals right, or my way or the highway, or basically a self-centered philosophy that subjugate all other voices when the need for those other voices is a necessary condition for a balanced viewpoint.  Enneagram theory and other psychological and sociological reasons for these conditions existing in our culture are prevalent and explain much of the dynamic behind the personality that develops within a mind.  Essentially the childhood experience has much to do with developing a mind that seeks to satisfy a self driven focus, and going unchecked through out their lives, these minds often become fixated on self orientation and exclude much of the true reality in our shared world of perception.  The following example excerpted from Enneagram theory type Eight: The Challenger   – The Wisdom of the Enneagram Hudson/Riso 1999

Parental Orientation

As young children, Eights were ambivalent to the nurturing-figure, the person in their early development who mirrored them, cared for them, and provided affection and a sense of personal value. This is often the mother or a mother substitute, but in some families, the father or an older sibling may serve as the nurturing-figure.

Eights did not strongly bond with or identify with their nurturing figure, but they also did not psychologically separate from them entirely either.  As a result, Eights learned that they could maintain some kind of connection with the nurturing-figure and fit into the family system by functioning in a role that was complementary to the nurturing-figure.  The nurturing-figure represented (and therefore “owned”) the qualities associated with motherhood: warmth, caring, nurturance, approval, gentleness, and sensitivity.  Thus, the Eight identified with the complementary patriarchal role, and learned that the best way to get some sense of value, affection, and nurturance was to be “the strong one,” the little protector, the one that others turn to for strength and guidance, especially in a crisis.  Eights then identified completely with this role, feeling that to give it up is to lose their identity as well as any hope of ever being loved or cared for.

Like Twos and Fives, the other “ambivalent” types, Eights feel that their well-being and survival are dependent on fulfilling their role in life. Twos believe that they must always selflessly nurture and care for others, Fives believe that they have no role to play and must find one, and Eights believe that they must be the decisive, strong person who can handle the big problems and who is indifferent to hardship and suffering. As with all of the types, the healthy manifestations of these roles can lead to extremely important contributions to the people around them, or even in the world. However, as fear and insecurity grows, these roles become prisons which trap the types and prevent them from expressing the full range of their humanity.

As we have seen, Eights begin to repress their fear and vulnerability so that they will be strong enough to meet whatever challenges they must. In highly dysfunctional families or in otherwise dangerous childhood environments, those challenges may be considerable, and in Eights, the result is a tough, aggressive person with a limited capacity to get close to others or to acknowledge their hurt.  It is as if Eights must construct a tough carapace of aggressive ego defenses so no one will ever again be able to get at the soft, vulnerable person inside.

If Eights have suffered serious abuse in childhood, their faith in others and in the world becomes so damaged and closed off that they live in constant anticipation of rejection and betrayal.  They find it difficult to trust anyone, and are consumed with rage at the injustices they feel have been perpetrated upon them. Unlike Sixes, who also have trust issues, and who may develop an aggressive style of defense against the world, Eights do not believe they can rely on anyone or anything outside themselves.  Within their family system, they experienced themselves as the authoritative person.  There was no one else to turn to for reassurance or guidance, so Eights are unwilling to allow their destiny or decision-making capacity to be placed in anyone else’s hands (“The buck stops here.”)

If there was some degree of warmth, nurturance, and mutual support in the Eight’s early childhood environment, chances are good that as an adult, the Eight will take a strongly protective role, especially with the few people that they trust and are close to. If there was little support or nurturance available, Eights tend to grow up with an “every man for himself” attitude.  They feel as though they have had to struggle and fight to survive on their own, and if others are going to make it, they better be able to take care of themselves.  Looking out after “number one” is a full-time job, and caring too much about others becomes a survival risk.

We can see very clearly in this type how a child’s natural qualities—in this case, high energy, physical endurance, and willpower—combine with a family constellation to crystallize a particular pattern of behaviors and attitudes that determine a person’s identity.  On the healthy side of the scale we will also see how these natural qualities, when positively encouraged and expressed lead to constructive, empowering human beings who leave a lasting legacy behind them.   At the other end of the scale, where these energies have been twisted and distorted by abuse, we see vengeance, destructiveness, and a legacy of another kind.  see http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

A damaged self-image, and a narcissistic personality are just a few of the traits that impede a healthy introspection worthy of any integrity.  The term narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus, a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo.  These advances eventually led Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.  Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus “lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour”, and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus.  Note that the myth has Narcissus reflecting upon his shallow external features and not upon an examination of the  deeper reflections of the soul.

To the extent that parents are narcissistic, they are controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of their children’s needs and of the effects of their behavior on their children, and require that the children see them as the parents wish to be seen. [1]

1.  Rappoport, Alan, Ph. D.Co-Narcissism: How We Adapt to Narcissistic Parents. The Therapist, 2005.

Narcissistic people blame others for their own problems.  They tend not to seek psychotherapy because they fear that the therapist will see them as deficient and therefore are highly defensive in relation to therapists.  They do not feel free or safe enough to examine their own behavior, and typically avoid the psychotherapy situation.  Co-narcissists, however, are ready to accept blame and responsibility for problems, and are much more likely than narcissists to seek help because they often consider themselves to be the ones who need fixing.

The tragedy of a life is what the Dalai Lama noticed in his rendering of what surprised him about humanity.. in that “Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

The reality outside our case study’s perception was ignored and not recognized so there was no opposition in his mind despite the pleas of issues brought forth from others in the events that occurred.  There is ignorance, and then there is stupidity.  If one ignores reality, and only see’s the world according to their view despite all of the information from other sources, then one will lead a lonely life of tyranny.  One leads a life, going through the motions, working, doing those things that one can do to sustain themselves, yet in many cases these people do not stop and think and question their lives in ways that challenge the status quo.  They don’t stop to live in the moment, enjoy the events of the now, but rather only take part in their favorite pastimes, like watching football, or their television programs which take them away from their families, and friends.  It also takes them away from dealing with issues about their lives if their minds are distracted and filled with non-essential information that is truly not an important feature of our lives.  Sadly the lack of being a non-reflective soul over the course of a lifetime has caused a tremendous amount of dissension within his personal life.  Even more remorseful is that he cannot understand why most people choose not to associate with him, he cannot fathom or connect the factors of his life’s modus operandi to those who have gone their own way, leaving him alone, baffled, and in silent misery.

Accountability is a huge factor in processing events that occur, and if they are not held accountable for their behavior, they will most likely not learn, and continue to think, act, and behave as they have always done.  If no force of opposition is ever met, than the chances of change are seldom.  There are many who pass the days, years, decades, or lifetimes without questioning themselves or the paths they have chosen to remain on.  Often these cases support the statistical data showing that a life not reflected upon is not worth living.  Many end up alone, and are perplexed why their lives turned out the way they did.  The “Blame game” is often a retort that they will use, again deflecting the responsibility for their behavior or actions, and continue to live in denial.

In the “Oz Principles” of accountability training, the mantra one learns is …”See it, Own it, Solve it, and Do it.”  Accountability means …”A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”  Training oneself not to fall into the victim cycle that prevents one from achieving any of these steps to greater accountability is paramount.  It is often overlooked, but one must consider that one can only do what is within one’s power, so do not fret over things that are not in one’s control.  In other words, control what you can control.  Common mistakes we make when we “fall below the line”, are ways we see the world that lead us to an unsuccessful path and obtain results that are counter productive if we choose to be a victim.  Common victim cycle explanations that are “below the line” are:  (1) Ignore and Deny, (2)  It’s not my job / responsibility, (3) Finger – pointing, (4) Confusion / Tell me what to do, (5) Cover your tail, or (6) Wait and see.

Taking ownership of one’s life includes the way we perceive the world.  The way in which we perceive this world is dependent upon our lens of perception that is often shaped early in life.  If our lenses are smeared, so to will our perception of the world; this includes our own self-perceptions.  Given the assertion: an unexamined life is not worth living has much credence.    Socrates was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death but Socrates had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment.  He could have chosen life in prison or exile, and would likely have avoided death.

But Socrates believed that these alternatives would rob him of the only thing that made life useful: Examining the world around him and discussing how to make the world a better place.  Without his “examined life” there was no point in living.  So he suggested that Athens reward him for his service to society.  The result, of course, is that they had no alternative and were forced to vote for a punishment of death.  I suspect that those who choose to live an unexamined life may be susceptible to leading a very unsatisfying life if they are fallen prey to the extremes of self prioritization.  The illusions of this self-imposed trap are deep, but can be championed.  Next time we look into the mirror, let us also look upon our soul’s reflection, I wonder what we would see?

 

Recommended Books

__ Plato’s Dialog of the trial and death of Socrates 399 BC

The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The Wisdom of the Enneagram (Photo credit: Loulair Harton)

 

 

 

 

 

1999

 

Product Image

__  The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability 1994

Numb


I sometimes wonder how I have managed to make it through this journey of my life to this point in time.  I thought back to times in my life when they were very difficult, when my support group was not really in place, or I neglected to see who would be there for me, and quite sincerely how defeat after defeating moment, I would become numb to the world around me.  All of us have difficulties to share, and all of us have experienced some form of grief that once burdened us to the point of despair.

Today I would say that I am a realist, formerly I would claim to be an optimist.  When inspecting the memories of my lifetime I think I have led a life I can be proud of.  The early optimism probably came out of the naiveté and lack of experience in my youth.  The appetite to believe in others and their goodness was a strong influence on me early in my life.  I should probably credit my mother for this, I should also remit to say that the consequences of this outlook have both positive and negative outcomes for the person engaging with such a demeanor.  I am neither apologetic nor regretful of such proclivities for they shaped me and made me who I am today.

The focus on the darker periods of my life have led me to see things with a different view.  I do not fool myself in believing that I have had a difficult life in comparison to others.  Frankly, I am privileged in being born in a Country such as the USA when looking at other less formidable Countries, along with the fact that I was not born to a family in poverty, or with single parents, or parents addicted to drugs, etc. etc..

The amplification of dark thoughts on such treacherous grounds can be disturbing due to the lack of resources one feels they have available to them, and the possible outcomes from this temperament leading to the finality of a human life resounds in the statistics of today.  The mind can be a powerfully persuasive instrument for it to turn on itself.  The belief that you are wasting space in the universe, or that you have no worth to anyone is a stifling thought.

The moment you start believing in the negativity of other sorrowful misguided souls around you can be a windfall for the depressed mindset.  This mindset is content on gathering like negative influences which are attracted to the ailing mind.  Additionally, the distraught mind will also posit into the world what it most recognizes; that being a dreadful world.

There are an innumerable reasons, conditions, and environments for human beings to become struck with anguish and grief.  The human condition through out the millennia has given us a deluge of examples in all of the endeavors humans have undertaken.  My own journey has led me on some lonely roads, no, bogs if you will, and navigating them can be a very difficult feat.

When it comes to the point of questioning your existence under such circumstances, you often do not think clearly due to the depleted condition you are in.  Changing your circumstances seems very hard to do during these times.  The suffering you are encountering is overwhelming, your energy levels are next to nothing, and you torture your mind that continues to dwell on the negative attributes of your life.

When I was training to be a crisis intervention counselor in college I was confronted with some very powerful skill sets.  This awakening has not left me to this day as I learned to tune into my emotional states on levels I had never before achieved.  It was the first time I had taken a deeper look within my own emotional inventories.  During that year I discovered that I had shut out much of my emotional connections to others in my adolescence and childhood.  Dealing with others on a cerebral level is much different than dealing with them on an emotional level.  I believe that ideally blending these two attributes with your drives or desires, will result in a more balanced account in life.

The training I received was Rogerian, based on Carl Rodgers “Client centered therapy”, which focused on relating to others from an emotional level as to gain their trust and direct them out of crisis, into seeking some solutions for help for them.  Sadly, when we reach a state of no emotion as in a crisis; little can be done to convince those under such extremes.  There is a lethality scale used from 1-10 in crisis intervention.  These levels indicate how much of a threat the person is from harming themselves.  The most dangerous kind are those that are calm, and devoid of emotion.  The call they might make is a final attempt at help, yet their minds are for the most part made up into ending their lives.  This is a “numbness” that is most certainly the worst kind, and one of the hardest to circumvent.  The higher the lethality scale is, the more detailed the person’s suicide plan is.  They know usually how they will kill themselves, where they will do it, and sometimes even when.

I would have to say I have reached that point a few times in my life.  The numbness one experiences some argue is a defense mechanism that shuts down tumultuous emotional aspects the psyche undergoes.  In doing so, this process protects the damaging effects of extreme emotional pain from hurting the rest of the body, and ironically the mind itself.  The length of time one finds themselves in this mindset can and most likely produce changes in the transmission of neurotransmitters (Dopamine a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the functioning of the limbic system, which is involved in emotional function and control.  It also plays a part in movement, alertness, and sensations of pleasure.  Serotonin plays a regulatory role in mood, sleep, and other areas.) between the synapses within the brain.

The Dysthymic foundations that have directed my experiences make it much more difficult for others to spot in the everyday world in which we live.  Those of like disorders, are viewed normal since these people have embedded the depressive traits within their own personalities, and therefore many cannot distinguish any differences in their moods, or attitudes.  They learn to hide it well, and are less likely to draw attention or diagnose by the everyday person.  Furthermore, more tragically, they often go undiagnosed and do nothing to improve their situations.

Not being able to regulate feeling is also a very troublesome condition since it effects so many others that come in contact with the afflicted people in extreme cases.  I suggest that those affected probably hurt themselves most of all, but I do not rule out the family members if indeed they have maintained such relationships during this period of time they are enduring the dreadful condition.  Experiencing the world with such a vision is like sleep walking.  In a sense you are present physically, but you are not all there, psychologically you are not present at all.  Zen Buddhists would agree and say “Wake up”!  You are not fully functioning and are in essence a walking zombie going through the motions.

Numbness is a very lonely place to be.  To be void of any emotion results in becoming sub-human.  Not being able to enjoy the fullness of what life has to offer for whatever reason is a tragic matter.  Whether one chooses to neglect their power of observation, or whether one is caught in the traps of despondency, the world is much, much more than the observances of the downhearted.