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Inch Worms on the Plateau of Realism

I feel very sure just about everyone has blind spots or crazy spots in their personality. They come with the territory of being a human. I think they come with everyone’s DNA, but often, if not always, are intensified by experiences or lack of experiences in our impressionable youth.

One of my particular personality type’s blind spots is idealism, which is not bad if balanced with enough common sense. But unfortunately that seems to come to some of us very late in life. So, we develop survival mechanisms to minimize the pain of constant disappointment and frustration with the world, including with ourselves.

Some of us pick an idealistic goal in a particular area and simply focus on it with total tunnel vision while pouring all our energies into it. Unfortunately, eventually most of us either burn out or catch on that we can only inch toward ideals in this flawed and very unfinished world.

Others of us latch on pretty early to the pleasure principle….pleasures block pain…..so we eat, drink and make out with Mary or Harry. Eventually this either kills us, destroys our relationships or gets us run out of town, so we too are challenged to face the pitiful little realities of human existence.

So down deep many of us fear that what is actually driving us is congenital insanity. Naturally, we’d rather cling to an addiction, which we assure ourselves is either a virtue or else something that we could always get over, than face our fear that we are crazy. Because being crazy might not be something we are able to do anything about. Maybe all the world’s pills and all the world’s doctors couldn’t put our tiny cracked selves together again.

If we are lucky enough (or blessed) to find a source of love –  just as we are, we  can become able to bear the pain of disillusionment about ourselves and thus the rest of the world. Then most of us, after settling only temporarily in the valley of cynicism, will find our way to a reasonably satisfying existence as inch worms on the plateau of realism.

Zombies, Vampires, and Black Holes, Oh My!

I realize that I harp on the inborn differences in personalities, but to me this is a key to at least not judging ourselves or others harshly, even if we can’t understand where they are coming from.
I explore the world with my intellect (ideas, not my eyes and not my heart), but I RESPOND to the world from my feelings and values.
Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. And there is an upside and a downside for every personality trait. Responding to the world immediately on a feeling level makes people warm, friendly, mostly kind and caring. But it also makes us vulnerable to hurt, resentment, fear, and depression. We don’t have a protective layer of logic between the world and our hearts. We are “thin” skinned.

It takes grace to become able to minimize the fallout for those closest to us. Though it helps us if they can just hear and accept our feelings, it’s easy for us to fall into garbage dumping on those who love us enough to listen. We have to work to find a balance, so that we don’t overwhelm them with our neediness.
It takes time to develop strength in our weakness( our logic and analytical skills.) But eventually with time and grace, we can develop coping skills and find strength at our core.

And the less needy we are, the freer we are to be loving.

I’ve never been into the Goth thing, the Zombie thing, or the Demons thing, etc. Probably, because I have enough trouble coping with my own inner demons and dark side.
I don’t think anyone has a black soul, but I heard a description once that made me think that I and others might have an inner “black hole” like the ones in space that suck the light out of their surroundings.

The description was: ” A bottomless pit of needs and wants.”

I decided that for a considerable number of years that described me perfectly. And since being needy prevents us from being loving, it explained why I had trouble even loving myself, never-the-less others.

Discovering that God was alive and well and loving us all unconditionally, even us “Bottomless pits of needs and wants,” helped free me to begin depending on God and grace instead of other people and circumstances. And that is what fuels the lifelong process of learning to love both yourself and others unconditionally. With grace we can grow into the unique, imperfect, but more and more loving person God created us to be.
I am definitely in God’s slow learner group, and may never become as loving as many other people do, but I trust God and the process enough to believe I will reach my personal potential, however limited that may be. And that is all I am called to do.

Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

Loved this because, “Been there; done that.” It sounds simplistic, but actually is a good tool to break habitual cycles. Also, something a depressed teen-ager can relate to well enough to use it.

When I used to get trapped in a bad cycle of “I hate my boring life and I hate my selfish boring self,” I put slips of paper in three glasses. One glass labeled, Boring Necessary Tasks. The second labeled, Kindnesses to Others. And the third named, Attempts at Creativity or Totally Worthless Fun.

I drew randomly from first BNT and when that suggestion was accomplished, I drew and accomplished one from KTO, and then finally from the third, my reward group. Often accomplishing the first two unblocked my creativity.

I had two sets of these groups: Level One involved only a tiny bit of energy and time for each suggestion. Level Two took a larger investment of both.

On struggling through mud swamp days, I started with Level One and then moved on to Level Two. (Or not.)

Captain Awkward

Image: a cheerful orange blob monster is chatting to a friend using a speech bubble containing a question mark and exclamation mark. The friend is a grumpy grey blob monster who looks away expressing grumpiness. Its speech bubble contains a grey scribble.

Hello friends! It’s Elodie Under Glass here with a guest post on Low Moods.

I particularly want to thank Quisty, Kellis Amberlee and TheOtherAlice  for their kindly help in reading and editing this piece. It would not have existed without their care, support, compassion, and wonderful editorial abilities. They are truly remarkable humans! (edited: And thanks to the radiant and patient NessieMonster, who let me come to her city and follow her around, burbling insensibly about this post, for far longer than most people would have.)

So recently, I went on a Stress and Mood Management course, and I thought that you all might enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.

This post is something of a correction/update to Adulthood is a Scary Horse, a post for the Captain which I was never quite satisfied with. It really crystallized for me on this course, in our…

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Born Anxious with Relapses

Many of us have had physical symptoms for decades without realizing they were caused by anxiety. Sometimes when I watched a rash start and spread before my eyes as I was dealing with a sudden, obvious stressor, I saw the connection between the physical and the emotional. Other times when getting short of breath and feeling like something was squeezing my chest, if I wasn’t in touch with the triggering emotions, I thought I was having a heart attack.
Self-awareness helps, learning calming techniques, learning to laugh at ourselves, and cutting ourselves some slack in certain situations can help. Understanding that many, many people experience physical problems without ever recognizing the emotional triggers, learning to talk ourselves through our fears, finding the right anti-anxiety medicines, all can help when we quit beating ourselves up for being born anxious.
We didn’t choose it, it’s undoubtedly chemical and genetic, it’s way more widespread than anyone realizes, but self-awareness and experimenting to find what helps us can minimize the negative fallout for ourselves and those that love us.
We aren’t to blame, but we are responsible for learning ways to minimize the crippling effects. And I can personally testify that love, joy, delight, pleasure, lots of laughter, worthwhile occupations, concern for others are all possible even for us born worry warts.
PS: The other day, I found a lot of old comic strips I cut out over the years that “spoke to my condition,” letting me know I wasn’t alone, and freeing me to find humor even in my inner chaos: Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbs, The Far Side, Ziggy, Kudzu, Cathy, Zits, Dilbert, Doonesbury,Arlo and Janice, and many more. Laughter is Carbonated Grace.

At Home in My Skin at Last

Must be getting really old, I’ve been so reflective lately. I guess seventy-six qualifies. Off and on through a lot of my life, I have not been very comfortable being me, sometimes downright miserable about being me. Realized tonight, even though I haven’t set the world on fire, I haven’t burned it down either. And though there have been hard times because of circumstances, there have been more good times than bad. I’ve learned a lot about human being.  And quite a bit about God.  And some really encouraging stuff about God and human being.  And even though I’ve gone through some really dark inner times, I have had lots of fun, lots of pleasure, lots of love both given and received, quite a few times of sheer mind blowing joy, and in my sixties and seventies, probably more laughter than in the first 60 years of my life. Even if I could magically go back and swap circumstances, or even get to be somebody else, I don’t think I would want to. I guess even though I don’t have too many illusions about myself anymore, I’ve just gotten used to being me, kind of like a pair of old house slippers, frayed around the edges, but too comfy to throw away. Amazing grace!
(Small print addendum: Wouldn’t mind some memory repair however.)