My vice had always been anger, and I have gotten better at dealing with it, by recognizing what causes it or feeds it, and by meditating. Nobody in my life saw me angry, but that’s because I had a lot of shame for feeling. I learned over time that the violence that I experienced, encouraged violence in myself. Nobody really knows. When you come into the world, there is no baseline for what is healthy and what is not. That is learned or felt, and the lessons often have to be sought.
The anger wasn’t destroying me, it was the debilitating shame I had for it. How could I work on what I couldn’t face? I never ran away from anger, but I only tried to take the edge off shame. Shame can cause you to check out or turn to other vices, or to lean on others because you can’t trust yourself, or to continue in arrogance because you already believe you’re too far gone anyway.
Home life was unstable and violent, school life was rigid and controlling. They tried to keep us from drinking, promiscuity, drugs, swearing, frivolousness. My weakness had only been anger, but the more that I was controlled, the more angry I became. The more angry I became, the more shame, the more distraction. Pride or checking out takes the pain away, or finding a scapegoat the handling becomes too much. But it only makes you feel worse in the end for losing yourself, more shame, and it becomes a full-blown problem. To feel defective is the original problem; fighting yourself is the Sisyphean task, a losing battle.
Change occurs the best with a level head, not through self-loathing. To truly hate yourself, you have to check out or denigrate yourself.
But the reality is everyone is human, no matter if they look it or not. You are not any less than anyone you follow or admire. Because value is in purity of heart and peace, and that requires very little, only being simple again.
I think the only antidote to pride is transparency. Every intention gets corrupted by desire after a while, but introspective honesty is our saving grace. There is courage in transparency and in protocol, to do what is right despite what we feel. My protocol is to live according to my values and to reject shame and manipulation, to treat people with consideration.
I learned over time that (1) no one size fits all. Everyone is dealing with something differently and has a unique temperament. The more objective a person is, the more they will know how subjective they are. The people that introspect the most don’t want to control others, because they know they aren’t any better than anyone else.
But (2) never encourage guilt or shame, as that’s manipulation. If you want something, ask for it, but don’t try to convince someone it is the right thing to do or that’s what they wanted all along, because that’s how children begin to mistrust. Children can sense something is off, even if they can’t defend themselves. They have a taste for the way they dealt with reality as children, whether through checking out, running away, or indulging, and those are truly deep habits that they will have to have compassion for one day.
Love is not an excuse to do what we always wanted, as we’ve seen of it. Recognition of motive and where we hurt others, accepting of our needs and even small desires, is honesty and beauty.
The best minimalist tip I have is to enjoy yourself first: I worked on my possessions because I didn’t know how to fix what was inside. When there was nothing else left to touch, then I moved inward. But simplification of life comes so much easier if you work on the reasons why you collect or why life spins out of control, what affects mood, and by accepting peace.
Maybe you think you could never live minimally, well, or in harmony with your environment, or that you’re too far gone anyway. But I am here to tell you that if there was a way for me, there’s a way for you. You alone are enough as you are. You had value before you did or said anything in this world. One life has infinite value. All lives have value, no matter what they do. Set up a structure, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Neither procrastinate, nor rush. Take everything in balance and enjoy the changing seasons, the highs and the lows, the inconsistencies. Nothing stays the same: There are many sides to a person and to life. With patience, a new side emerges.
Working on the mind is grossly neglected, and we see depression, abuse in homes (1 in 3), and addiction. People are disillusioned with the brutality of reality, but there is beauty in suffering and joy. All has to be accepted. If you numb yourself, there is almost no joy left as well: We’ve died, but we’re not dead. There is depth in death, but don’t stay too long.
When a man returns from war, he is not the same. He knows he’s not on the battlefield, but his body’s cortisol drops and can’t signal to the stress hormone that he is out of danger. So his body is perpetually bathed in a higher level of stress than normal, causing hypervigilance, insomnia, and fatigue. So it is in pets that have been abused, when they hear a loud noise, they return back home, whether the home is safe or not. Pets that have been severely abused will not walk out of an open fence if they are set free. They cower in anxiety or become aggressive, but they stay in the same place.
The way to improve society is through encouragement and camaraderie, seeing ourselves in each other by knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves fully. Integrity is wholeness.
All we can do is take forward the best habits of the past. All we can do is refuse to make people suffer on one hand and comfort them on the other, causing them to disbelieve in humanity. Honesty of our motives and limitations, that is our saving grace.
In a way, we leave the past when we take care of ourselves.
Healing only comes from fully knowing yourself and your actions, and admitting to what you want out of life, not rejecting it because you don’t believe it’s attainable or other things have to be attended first, to be worth the little things that bring joy.
There is a better way, and it’s simple: giving back and being at peace with life. We have compassion for the people that hurt us. In the end, your compassion is not complete, until it includes you, for all the things you’ve done, thought, and wanted. It is okay to be human, and it is okay for everyone around you to be as well.