How to …Escape Emotional Dependency

 

How to… Escape Emotional Dependency…

Jack-Kerouac

 

“We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.”
-Benjamin Disraeli

 

Cultivating the right environment for your own growth and development as a human being, as a creative individual, as a cog in the system of whatever functional or dysfunctional structure you’re fitting into, whether willingly or not, is absolutely vital if you’re going to make any kind of progression towards a happier life.

Emotional dependency is a trap so easily fallen into and so commonly mistaken for security and self-confidence. If I’m depending on someone to support me emotionally, I am feeding off energy supplies they have cultivated themselves, whether consciously or not, for their own benefit. Using their positivity and wellness as a means to support failing efforts at establishing my own. It’s a sign there is some sort of imbalance within my own life that I have chosen to either block entirely, thus rendering me in need of reassurance, or else I have allowed it to engulf me completely, creating the need and habit for another ear or shoulder to help carry its weight. This kind of dependency and relationship can actually appear to be functional for a time, until it becomes evident that the weight of whatever underlying issue exists is not the ‘dependents’’ own burden to bear, and they withdraw from it reluctantly in order to prevent further draining of their own precious strength.

They can want to help and offer a shoulder to cry on only a certain amount of times before it simply becomes unfair to expect anything more of them – after all, have they too not got their own problems? Aren’t we all suffering?

Using others as scaffolding on which to support problems you yourself have failed to cultivate a resilience to is humiliating. It’s humiliating, and inconvenient for all involved. It’s difficult enough to admit defeat and take the help in the first place, without becoming dependent on it to keep going.
Crops failed this year. No inner strength remains to feed off of. You’ll have to borrow a neighbours’ corn.
Sorry.

For this reason, it is so important to learn to cultivate your own happiness. To figure out what works best for your unique organism of cells. The things that really make your eyes light up at the very thought or mention of them, catching fire and lifting you up when you actually put them into practice. The things that make life bearable for you; that can help you pass an afternoon of endless rain in a negative environment relatively contently.

Once you’ve reached this stage, the rest is simple: do them. As much, as intensly, and as often as you can. Work towards building something new, instead of retreating into the shell of what used to be; because let’s be honest, ‘what used to be’, wasn’t working either, so progressing forwards is really our only option here.

Once you’ve planted these roots, you can begin to feed off your own strength, your own individual cultivation, instead of digesting elements of an environment around you that don’t quite lend themselves to the elevation of your mood and happiness.

Metaphorical as it sounds, be sure to have some of this strength put aside for times of need. In the event of a storm, for example – the fat on the side, the blubber for insulation – every element of our world can be used in comparison to describe what’s inside us. The only difference with mental health is that you can’t see or visualise it. You need to figure it out for yourself, and that’s why taking time our from your regular schedule to do so is a perfectly acceptable form of ‘therapy’. Talking will only get you so far. As soon as you leave the doctor’s office, the old reliable neighbour whose crops seem to flourish year in, year out without fail; you’re left to try again alone.

Cultivation takes time, but each step successfully taken to further it onwards comes to be a comforting reassurance that you are getting there. It’s still nice to have a cup of tea now and again, to talk over plans, progress, reassuring those who have helped in the past that you’re on the right path, without allowing an emotional dependency to catch again like a swarm of locusts to the only food around they are aware of. That would be the easy option. Making your own is not only more rewarding, but soul-strengthening in every sense of the words.

As soon as the sun shines in again, that first sign of warmth and comfort, you’ll see it – the other side. The side where everything isn’t dark and stagnant and hopeless. Growth, progression, new life and strength is being cultivated even as you watch it; even as you sit and read these words your cells are fixing themselves and strengthening a core that has finally come to terms with the fact that it has the ability to stand up by itself. To nourish itself. To cultivate growth, to change, to age, and to progress. To depend on none but your own field of crops, your own emotional and physical strength rooted deeply into the ground beneath your feet, wherever they may find themselves today.

Just in Case – A Thought on Progress…

The unpredictable and erratic Irish sunshine is shining in on me this evening through a window graffitied with stubborn raindrops from earlier on. The world both inside and outside of my room seems calm, as although the weather doesn’t suggest it, it almost feels as if things might be coming to some kind of even keel as the escaped hubcap of my life spirals slower and slower to a managable pace where it finally nears stillness – still dangerously exposed and raw in the centre of the road, yet standing there strongly, and balancing alone.
The sun and rain go on around it, contrasting elements living in direct relation to one another, which have recently been spending an increasing amount of time together. It leaves me wondering are they growing apart, or growing closer together? It seems we can’t have one anymore without being half-prepared for the other, many shops in town boasting attractive stalls of both umbrellas and sunglasses side by side in displays of diversity that would leave Aldi and Lidl speechless.
But co-exist they do, and ginger hair and pale skin aside, one without the other wouldn’t be a comfortable climate to live in either. In considering my emotions and progression over the last number of weeks, I’ve come to a similar conclusion and final acceptance (after years of awareness) that the bad does not necessarily always have to be bad, and must exist in order for the good to be as rewarding as it is. Basic and elementary as this realisation may seem to some, it has only been through putting the extremes and contrasts into practice, subjecting myself to their power and destructive abilities and consciously suffering the consequences of them that I have once and for all come to accept them for what they are, and finally, finally, slowly and reluctantly come to learn from it.
I’m ready to let go now of what I know does not serve me. The length of time between acknowledging this and being ready to do so was far, far longer than even I could even have anticipated, the struggle in between proving more confusing and unpredictable than a badly-kicked rugby ball. Yet my body and my mind have suffered enough, and letting go seems easier now that I can see myself and true potential for what it is.

I don’t know what the next month holds in store for me, or where my next pay cheque is coming from. I don’t know where it is I would be now if this low had not happened or been allowed manifest it’s gripping, grumbling emptiness within me. I can’t possibly know any of this, nor change how I was before. All I can do now is keep moving forward, building on the mistakes that were made and shunning the negative tendencies that will forever remain etched as a reminder of the strength of my own human will to do whatever it is I set myself out to do. Just because I’m not certain of what I’m setting out to do yet does not mean I won’t do it well, because now, instead of worrying and jumping to conclusions I cannot possibly predict or know the outcome of, I’m progressing forwards, in the comforting knowledge that I have been able to deal with and adapt to changes I didn’t expect or plan before, and I’ve made it this far to tell the tale. The tools I’ve gained from getting here will remain with me as long as I just remain aware, and maintain a certain balance in myself which only I can maintain.
I do not, and cannot know whether a rain jacket or a bottle of Factor 50 will be necessary when I leave the house tomorrow. But I know that both are packed away safely and neatly accessible in my bag – just in case.

Maintenance

 

Maintenance
Here’s the thing about mental illness. You can try your hardest. You can get up early and exercise and drink lots of water and eat healthy and eat lots. You can do yoga and meditate. You can write and draw and run and sing and knit and paint. You can do your absolute best to have a good day, and still sometimes you don’t. Some days are just bad. And that’s ok.
The constant effort and awareness that’s necessary to maintain positivity and maintain a sense of happiness sometimes gets overwhelming. It’s not possible to be on top of all things, at all times. But it’s how you react to that bad day and lapse in attention that defines how it either resolves itself, or else spirals further. Knowing yourself is more than just knowing how to do your job, or who your friends are, or where the best place to go for cheap cocktails on a Wednesday is. It’s about knowing how your mind and body react to things and kinds of people around you, and trying your utmost to deal with these reactions accordingly. I know enough about myself by now to recognize that I often get caught up in the heat of the moment and react rashly to statements or people or things happening around me, and immediately regret it. By taking a small mental step backwards and knowing my inclination to do this, I can at the very least rectify what I’ve done or said immediately, if not before it actually happens. Because it’s not going to go away or disappear just like that. It’s something that’s always going to be there in certain people as a natural reaction to the world around them. Those who don’t experience it might find it hard to understand it, I don’t know – I’m just recounting my own experience and methods.
A bad day is a bad day, and however hard it may be to reign in the spiraling thoughts of how pointless continuing on would be, in the end both your body and the world around you are going to keep going, regardless of the reluctance of your mind. If you fall and break a bone, your body’s natural reaction is to grow and fix itself to repair around that break. The only real difference is that your physical cells don’t have that niggling little negative voice saying that there’s no point, it’s too difficult, let’s just leave it broken.
Mental health IS a conscious and constant effort, and it’s easy to back down and be lazy about maintaining a good attitude towards it. Even now as I write this I’m wondering what’s the point of it, but to be honest sometimes it’s nice to just think about it and get your head around what exactly we’re dealing with when we think about mentality and illness of the mind.
Because every day, even for those of us fortunate enough to have a somewhat stable routine, be it work, college, or otherwise – every day is different, and throws up new challenges in our faces that we have to learn how to deal with. For some people dealing with a mental issue for the first time, it may be hard to recognize it for what it is, because as so many people are so quick to point out – we all do have shit days. But it’s when those shit days become the norm, become something that you can’t even distinguish as being bad anymore that you have a problem.

As you get older and begin to understand your own mind and body and the way they work, it becomes easier to recognize when things aren’t exactly as they should be, and when some mindful TLC is required. Once you’ve pulled yourself through a particularly bad episode or day once, there’s a certain knowledge and resigned acceptance to the truth that everything will, in actual fact, be ok. You’ve done it once – there’s no reason why you can’t do it again. But it’s that first time and one seemingly unsurpassable struggle that will test you the most, even if it’s only because you don’t know exactly what you’re dealing with and have never had to think about having an issue with your mental health. Even if it may not seem like it, there are plenty of options out there and friends who are willing to talk if you just reach out to them and do it. Let them help you, by helping yourself first.
There’s a lot more that can be said and thought about mental health, and we are by no means making any major breakthroughs as of yet in terms of treatment or prevention. A conscious effort made to be aware of yourself and your mind is truly the only way to ensure you can maintain a kind of mental immune system – to just LIVE it, and be it, and be up front and accepting of what’s happening around you at the present time. Just be you.

“Self” (Or, “I need to stop thinking so deeply into everything I see on telly”).

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“I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself—we are creatures that should not exist by natural law . . . We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self, a secretion of sensory, experience, and feeling—programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody.

These lines from the first episode of “True Detective” really got me thinking today. Their blunt truth confirms the humbling reality of how small we are – how minute a single human’s impact upon the world really is. A year ago, more than likely I would have thus embarked on an ultimately pessimistic and negative narrative delving into the lack of meaning there is to everything we do as humans, dissecting aspects of daily life that highlight our flaws and pointless issues. But there are two sides to every argument, and certainly more than one outlook to take upon something so deeply involved with the human condition.

The suggestion that our development of a conscience and as such, a sense of “self”, has been somewhat of a burden to our kind is of course perfectly understandable. If it weren’t for the constant reminders and recommendations in media and social circles to “just be yourself” and “know yourself”, we wouldn’t ever question it. Our physical differences and quirks are what outwardly distinguish us from one another, and yet they are also things that we have very little control over. It is because of this “éagsúlacht” (diversity) in our physical appearance that we often feel the need to conform and to be alike in other aspects of ourselves. The notion of identity is often overlooked in favour of the feeling of “fitting in”; doing what everybody else does because it seems to the narrow-minded the only way to achieve goals– goals that are often merely a pre-disposition to achieve further compliance with the “norm”. “Normal” ways of dressing have given rise to the fashion industry; “normal” ways of speaking have left us with dialects and languages that vary hugely even within their own countries; “normal” reactions and responses to everyday occurrences and interactions have led to the segregation of some as “weird”, “out of the ordinary” and sometimes even (extremely inappropriately) “mentally ill”. The combination of all of these social boundaries and outlines with the average human psyche has had such a strong effect upon our consciousness that we no longer understand what it means to be unique, if such a thing even exists. Everything we do or say, whether pre-meditated or impulsive, is the product of circumstance – something we have recycled from our own individual experiences, and chosen to put into context of a current situation.

On the one hand, while each persons’ combination of experience is a unique blend, it is the contextualization of these experiences and knowledge that is expressed in our actions, allowing us to appear “unique”, while essentially drawing on our knowledge of previous situations and actions to express “new” ones. It is this process of analysation and revitalisation of ideas that has allowed the human race to progress though history – learning from the mistakes and reinstating the victories of others throughout our existence – drawing new conclusions from old ideas. While not altogether original in their basic idea, the combination and situation in which they are reinforced allows new meaning and understanding to be derived from these conclusions, and thus influences those in contact with them.

The majority of humans thrive on contact with other humans; whilst not altogether necessary to ensure fundamental physical survival, contact and communication is what has allowed us to develop as we have, enhancing our mentality and intelligence, and establishing us as a dominant life form. We have wrestled our way to the forefront of our consciousness, pushed ourselves to our limits, all the while under this pretence of “self”; trying to establish ourselves as a different entity to the other billions of humans on the planet. The illusion that we are alone in our thoughts and problems is merely an unfortunate consequence of the boundaries placed upon society by older generations that certain things cannot or should not be discussed, or are thought of as irrelevant.

If we are to consider ourselves a by-product of previous generations, hybrids of millennia of human reproduction, I think it is safe to say that we have not done too badly for ourselves, given the circumstances. No, we did not ask to be brought into this world, or to be given our particular appearance, preferences or confused accents, but if we continue as we have done, learning from the past and using those experiences to move reluctantly forwards, then who cares if we’re a little bit similar to somebody else, or like to partake in some of the same pastimes as others? We still have our own individual experiences to draw from – the combination of which you are guaranteed to share with nobody else on this planet. Make of them what you can, because as confusing as it may be to meditate on the idea of the “self”, it is ultimately what each person gleans from their own experiences that make them who they are, and not the experiences themselves. A little diversity is what keeps people moving.