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Blog Ralph

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My experiment in choosing to be happy or focus on the positives went as follows: Can one simply choose happiness? Maybe, but it takes more work than a mere desire and pasting a happy face on things. It's better to be realistic and work on the problems as they arise in the present. Did the world suddenly collapse if I stop worrying for a moment? No - my personal efforts to control the universe don't seem to be instrumental in holding it together. This is encouraging, because given the state of the world I would hate to be responsible for how much misfortune there is. Child soldiers, terrorism, corporate rapaciousness, corruption - it's not my fault, man, I didn't do it. It's still easier for me to come up with negative things than positive things though, so for the next week I will note each day 5 positive things that happened.

I had a good visit with therapist this week. Came in feeling pretty defeated and left feeling like things are going to be okay. The revelation was that I had been telling myself I am useless, don't bring anything to the table, dull, boring, nobody would have anything to do with me. In fact there are a few interesting things about myself and I have accomplished some things that I can be proud of. I've started to support myself more instead of beating myself up all the time. Unfortunately self flagellation is a deeply ingrained habit so it's going to take some time to reduce or erase this activity. That leads to the other skill I am learning, which is patience.

Patience does not come easily to me. I want the world to function at the speed of my mind. That is as soon as I think of changing something, I want it to be changed. The fact that our habits have momentum and cannot be undone with a single thought is something I drive myself crazy over. Resetting this expectation to a more realistic level is helping to reduce my stress levels, and with it reduce depression. We had a dharma reading in meditation today, which involved the slogan, "Turn all mishaps into the path." This was then explained to be a way of cultivating spiritual patience. Yes things don't go the way we want them to. In fact this is the case more often than not. If we can face this with dignity, we gain strength and that strength is the virtue of patience. In this way all mishaps become the path. Going to work on that. Dignity is not very high in my repertoire, yet.

Still I keep having these thoughts, "I want to die." "I should kill myself." "Nobody will even notice." Again these are habits of thought that have been deeply ingrained. This suggests the next practice is to be patient with these thoughts. Not to let them run rampant and possibly influence my behavior, but to give them space and allow them to dissipate. I don't need to get sucked into them. In the past I would drink to MAKE them stop. Now I have to learn to be more gentle with myself and use techniques that maybe don't have as quick results, but are less harmful to the rest of my mind and body.


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It occured to me again that your blog could be once publiched as a book - an insightful story of overcomming depression and addiction - with a happy ending, I belive and wish... :)

Good luck!

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"... my personal efforts to control the universe don't seem to be instrumental in holding it together."

I love that! :-) In particular because I know how pitiful my own attempts are. It makes me glad the stupid thing seems to do okay without me ... plus, it means the rest of y'all aren't doomed when I finally die, in a few hundred years or so. :-)

And yeah, the relief from responsibility is just as important ... That adjustment of perspective is actually pretty fundamental, Ralph. I envy how well you described it. Not being required to control things we don't is a huge step, as is making ourselves responsible for the things we do choose ... I might even suggest that the sum of those two is the thing psychologists call "individuation".

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Lala, thanks for your kind words and thanks for reading my (absurdly long) blog. I don't have any desire to make a book, but I may try putting my blog out in a more accessible format like wordpress or something to see if I get a following. That would tell me if enough interest exists to publish a book. If I could help people with a book, then that is what I would want to do. However I am very shy and private so putting my name out there on a book about my personal struggles would be a big step to say the least.

Malign, I still have tendencies toward black and white thinking. That is, if I don't control everything, I must control nothing. So I would need to still work on maintaining both sides of that individuation equation at the same time in order to feel competent there. I'm building my personal responsibility through my efforts to stay clean, but I can see I've just started on this path after decades of being irresponsible. I guess I am trying to change a lot at once right now. I should get a planner or something to keep track of all these goals. Oh, and thanks for reading as well. I am glad to have the feedback.

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Ralph, you are very intelligent, insightful and well-spoken person and we can learn from you. These strengths can be used in your favor to help you to help yourself.

People would definitely notice.

We're happy to have you here with us in our community. I wish you wellness and healing.

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There's an old saying about one step at a time ... It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed and then discouraged. Slow and sure wins the race ... and I'm out of clich├ęs. ;-)

I like reading; I like maybe helping. So you're welcome. I also appreciate your efforts to give people feedback here; I consider you an asset for our community.

The tension of "gray" is the interesting part of living. :-) That's not to say it isn't damn hard to be an individual. Just that it's rewarding too.

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