I’ve been spending some time this weekend trying to think my way out of some life issues. I feel lucky to be in this blogging community, because so many of you are clearly fucked up as well, that I never feel ashamed about being honest with you about my own foibles, especially when it comes to my relationship with Sophia.
Recently, I have noticed several of you trying to improve your lives through some sort of self-help regimen. I tend to see two distinct self-help techniques being used, and I’m having difficulty deciding which is the true path, if any. These techniques both revolve around interpretations and re-interpretations of self — and how we see our own strengths and weaknesses.
Self-Help Technique #1) I Will Myself to Perfection
This technique spits on the concept of weakness. Man was made to improve himself. Each of us is our own master. It is up to the individual to rise above the masses of sheep, Ayn Rand style. You see this attitude in many of the exercise bloggers lately, especially in their hard-nose attitudes toward the overweight. These individuals hate victim mentality. Hard work is advocated, focusing on self-improvement. The overweight are overweight because they are lazy and eat crap. Those who live under the poverty line could rise about it — if only all they re-interpreted their self-image. Personal achievement equals hard work, and those who don’t reach a certain level in success — in romance, work, blogging, etc — didn’t have the right stuff. The way to success is to turn the body and mind into a well-oiled machine. All distractions must be eliminated. Life must be organized, with five year plans, segmented into fifteen minute “progress” periods on the iphone.
This technique is attractive to me. I am typically hard on myself, blaming my own weak brain for messing things up. I admire a technique that is a bootcamp of the self, where your inner voice is a Sergeant (or Jillian Michaels) barking directions at you. If you can’t take the heat, you don’t deserve the goods. To succeed, I need to “reframe” my mind into a stronger way of thinking, seeing myself as soldier of success. There is no excuse for not writing three novels a year. I need to get off Twitter. Procrastination is for weaklings. Clearly my marriage is not working. It is a time-sink. Stop what isn’t working, and bite the bullet like a man. The only one I need to please in life — is myself. My voice is the ONLY voice. When I quit blogging, I will take it down with me.
Self-Help Technique #2) I Am Weak and Need Help
This technique grows out of the 12-step programs. Until recently, I knew very little about 12-step programs other than what I saw on TV. But now that I have a few friends who are making use of these support groups, I thought I would do some research on how they work. The history of organizations such as AA is fascinating. Although these programs are not “religious” in dogma, a relationship with a higher being is part of the recovery equation. This is not a technique where you push yourself to be perfect. Quite the opposite. You are acknowledging that you are have a problem which you cannot solve on your own. You are accepting your weakness, and publicly admit it, going outside of yourself for support. An addict will always be an addict, even years after his last drink or cigarette, because the weakness is a given, and the individual must always be vigilant.
This technique is attractive to me — even outside the context of a 12-Step Program. It is a more gentle approach to self-therapy. The individual can be kinder to oneself in accepting one’s failings. I didn’t write three novels a year because I just didn’t. I was weak. I am never going to change unless I accept this, and look for help. I will always have a tendency to procrastinate. Rather than try to eliminate it unsuccessfully, I should accept it, and look for ways to control it, perhaps by sharing stories with others with the same concerns.
Technique #1 — De-focus from others and train your mind and body like an Olympic athlete. It is up to you to make things happen.
Technique #2 — Stop fooling yourself that you are strong and see yourself for who you really are — weak. Connect yourself to a higher power and others to help you from falling.
Any of this make sense?