Seeing the World Through Another’s Eyes

All bloggers start out with day jobs, unless they’re perennial introverts who won’t leave their parents’ basements. And no dig at Jung’s favorite home-bound, reflective, quiet types. I can easily count myself among them with how I get overwhelmed by people. Or maybe, that’s just an excuse for laziness I can’t shake.

I am more self-reflective than anyone I know, or can pretend to understand. This is mostly a bad thing. You’d think I’d be able to harness my emotions and turn the world into some hippie commune full of equal opportunity from high to low with the amount of perseverating I do on my own problems. Really, it’s just unhealthy and more than a little narcissistic.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to solve my own issues with thinking too hard. I’m actually attempting to circumvent negative feelings and flip that frown upside down by writing this blog entry. Though, try as I might, I just get stuck in more. I’m all sorts of angry, sad, and tired when I think more. Now, I might sound contradictory when I imply that thinking in general can be a disease of the mind. It in fact combats such things by providing self-awareness, in my view.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to perform the action of “thinking”. While fun to explore myriad possibilities, if you go down too many rabbit holes, you can lose your way and get buried six feet under. If you focus on only one thing too long, reality blurs and your life becomes the Dadaist fog for paint millennials and Gen Z already swim through on the daily. Then there’s thinking not at all or very little, as if that organ in your head had served its evolutionary purpose long ago and now needs to die off like a mighty T-Rex’s vestiges.

There’s really no winning here, as I’ve found out. I’ve had enough experiences to know that there’s just no getting your meaning across with some people although you try, and maybe, you don’t need to. What really changed for me happened more than 10 years ago, and while I had always loved words and storytelling, I finally started to use them to be kind to myself.

Self-love is vastly overrated in modern Western society, and even in those people in the West would mock or just find silly when compared to their reality. It’s overblown; and I would say this is so purely because people don’t understand it. They think it means long, luxurious baths and racking up a heating bill higher than everyone on their block. They think it means (and I know this to be true, because I struggled with it, and on my worst days still fight to be a better me) looking inward, and seeing beauty where there is fault or folly.

What they really come out with after these binges (again, I would know, as a misinformed student of Freud’s nemesis/protégé for many years) is self-obsession, anxiety, and existential woe.

The way I began to solve this problem was, really, in hindsight, very simple. I turned my gaze away from my injured self, but only when I knew I could successfully maneuver a broken ego out of the accident scene without further damaging it. The only way I could strengthen myself was by working on myself, and that meant not pulling any punches. I cracked the whip when I became jealous. I smacked myself when I didn’t feel happy for my sister when she got a promotion.

Now, I’m not a big believer in forcing happiness. But I know what to do to achieve my own personal sense of joy, and how to obtain my creature comforts. I know what I seek in a friend; I know how to resolve problems. And most of all, I have a greater sense of empathy than with which I began this journey.

However, you might be wondering, since I mentioned words, if there was anything I said to myself to make the magic stick. Positive self-talk seems all the rage these days, from what I see. Despite that, I’m here to tell you “no” – I said nothing to myself. No positive affirmations, no joyous declarations, no overrunning myself with pop psychology nonsense.

Yeah, I like MBTI and I’m not ashamed to admit it, but honestly, what is it compared to the work I’ve done on myself? The road is mine to travel. I must say though, it’s better with companions. And the person who had tagged along faithfully for most of my sojourn into growth and maturity was my mother.

Both of my parents are immensely supportive people, but it took a lot of realizations and mental whiplash to get myself to a place where I could even understand a little of their brand of love, especially my mother’s.

She is the foundation of our house. She is the dinners she cooks our little family. But, most importantly, she is the love she dishes out even when she’s weary herself and desires a good rest.

So for her sake, I love myself. Not for most “more selfish” reasons, like wanting to heal yourself to be loved, only to be thrashed again up against the rocks when your little boat runs aground on Sea Serpent Island. My mom couldn’t speak to me directly before I was born. She couldn’t look me in the face and say, “I love you because…”

She just did.

That is why I don’t tell myself I love me. I simply am. She allowed me to be, as I’m sure someone in your life in passing has done, perhaps cruelly, and definitely unintentionally.

So don’t give up. Don’t use words where words won’t do.

Don’t become a person worth $50 million if you can’t even enjoy the emptiness of the pockets of your cut-offs on a summer day.

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