If you can love another, you can love yourself

If you can love another, you can love yourself.

In fact I could take it one step further – the only one you can truly guarantee loves you is yourself!

But how many who seek love from another do not know how to show it to themselves?

What does self-love look like?

– Accepting your own vulnerabilities and flaws: Two very difficult things. To be vulnerable in a society that can be predatory, to be still in a sea of moving people who demonize ‘idleness’, to dare to look within and risk being called ‘childish’, these are not easy pressures to deal with. We are expected to be superhuman by others and by trying to live up to this, we fail to acknowledge our limited capacities. The unhealthy customs of an unhealthy society should not be the benchmark of sanity. Whatever the self-destructive masses say, however perfect their Instagram and Facebook selves appear, deep down we are all harbouring a vulnerable self and we are all flawed and imperfect.

– Treating yourself and acknowledging yourself: Enjoying life without guilt is key to self-love. You deserve the finer things in life – sometimes! Even with moral considerations, such as an imperative to be vegan, you can forgive yourself for not being 100% perfect. We do not live in the conditions where we can flower into fully compassionate, healthy, ethically perfect eco-friendly vegans – so why strive for the impossible? Why take all the problems of a society onto your two shoulders? Acknowledging that you deserve good things is a wholesome self love. Sometimes you can be a bit greedy, eat a whole packet of biscuits to yourself, have a lazy and listless day. This is your birthright as an imperfect, sentient being.

– Listening to your deepest wounds and allowing healing: There is a wounded part in all of us. I do not know at this stage in my life if these wounds ever heal. I can say with certainty that it is possible to get better at managing and understanding those wounds. There are better and worse responses to a flaring up of inner wounds. Being frustrated at the wounded inner-child for keeping you up all night when you have an important meeting tomorrow may seem a rational response. But in the long-term that wounded self is going to need love or it will damage your psyche, self-neglect does not produce healthy people. I have put myself to sleep with a self-directed ‘I love you, unconditionally’ after a full night of insomnia. Unconditional love is not a good thing for adults in my view, but for children it is quite essential. If you cannot love your own vulnerable inner-child, who can you love? That is where love is needed the most and you are in the ideal position to give it. Unconditionally.

– Non-comparison with imagined selves: A good friend of mine often talks about falling short of his ‘best self’. I don’t know what he is talking about, he already is his best possible self! Sometimes he stands, sometimes he falls. It is as good as we can get. I have always compared myself to ‘famous me’. Whilst this desire for recognition has some basis in reality and possibility, the idea that there will be a point where one breaks through into the world of fame and celebrity, a lofty vantage for philanthropy and fighting the system, is an imagined self of absurd proportions. If you are brave enough to be flawed yourself, that is a damn good effort.

– The nature of beings: The nature of your being is to continue existing. The will to live is something as natural as a plant reaching up to the sun. Ideas of a self-destructive nature are imposed from without, by forces which are interested in using you, exploiting you, or harming you. The very nature of yourself, what philosophers have called the ‘conatus’, is a stronger ‘idea’ than anything from without. Within that will to live is a will to love and that must necessarily be directed ‘inwards’.

And finally, very importantly, don’t worry if you can’t self-love at any given time. The world is too big for your shoulders and there are a lot of bad influences in town. Spending a night binging on Netflix or Rome: Total War is the birthright of those of us born in this era. Distraction, hobbies, being a bit too self-critical sometimes. This is all part of the sentient-human package.

If we idolize and essentialize self-love and make it something to aspire to, then paradoxically we destroy it, for we trample over the part of us that is imperfect.

Remember always to leave room enough for the fucked-up you.

 

Low Self-Esteem

How much depression and anxiety comes back to low self-esteem?

A vision of the self as being a totality of worthless components.

Reaching back into personal history it is not hard to pinpoint pivotal moments that fed in to this condition.

But awareness does not seem to alter anything. Do we need other people to confirm the truth of ourselves?

The causes –

Rejection has been a constant theme of this blog – from work, from love & relationships, from social groups, from friendships, from all smanner of spaces. These doors seem closed and barred, they seldom ever register as possibilities.

Rejection does not necessarily cause low self-esteem. But what rejection can do is feed into narratives of broken esteem, confirming core-beliefs of dejection and sadness.

Whether it is one rejection or a thousand, does it make a difference? Rejection (real or perceived) sets a spark which travels down into the depths of the soul and ignites trapped feelings, negative self-views, internalized abuse and so on.

Dealing with these fundamental core inadequacies seems like the primary way forward; it is not the specific instances of failure or rejection that caused fundamental self-esteem problems, but the self-esteem problems that magnify those feelings. Or worse, the low self-esteem that seeks to confirm itself, perceiving failure and being overly harsh on the self to create a downward spiral.

Perspective –

Is a counter-point it should be noted that exile, rejection and failure are always hard. The Pythagorean cults of ancient Greece were destroyed by vengeful people who were once cast out. Exile and isolation is painful for humanity. Under no circumstances is an overly competitive framework where we must fight with each other ever going to have a happy ending for the majority of people.

It should be noted that low self-esteem is not just a problem in an individual. It is endemic to a society which exalts some people and puts other down. Is this simply the dark side of our social species?

 

Give not thyself away

Every time you reach out to someone, you give a part of yourself away. You have to hold a space for a relationship to develop. You have to take a risk which means the possibility of rejection.

Often in human-to-human interaction there is a power dynamic of giver and receiver, of actor and reactor, powerful and powerless. The one who is offering something is in a position of weakness, the other person has a position powerful enough to warrant someone else approaching them.

It is impossible to survive in this world alone, such would be a truncated existence. So we must transcend our shells and learn to interact with others. You never know when you will make a lifelong friend or start a satisfying relationship.

However, knowing when to stop is essential. And what is most important is learning the importance of keeping yourself, or not giving yourself away.

If someone is rejecting, why give them another thought? The connection can be cut away and you can regain that lost part of yourself. By undoing the initial reaching out, you cease to be rejected.

If someone is ignoring, why keep on trying with them? There are plenty of other people out there. It may make someone more mysterious if they are distant, but it is a power dynamic which is destructive to you.

It is far healthier to be discerning, to hold your dignity close to your chest. There is a balance to be struck: to be willing to try with new people but aware that it may not work.

This is the reality of human interaction. We are not all equal, nor all in equal positions. You can never fully trust someone who does not acknowledge this stark reality.

In a society of ‘words not deeds’, we are increasingly expected to trust people at face value. By what they proclaim to believe, or what they proclaim to identity as. I have learnt the hard way to look for ‘deeds before words’, to be more discerning and less trusting of others based on their surface-level bullshite. This rational cynicism has strengthened myself, and made the idealism of younger years look like the naivety it was.

To find true human connection is hard, it takes times and it takes work. But this is precisely why it is magical and worthwhile.

Depression – breaking it all down (Part I)

I am not one of those people who believes that depression is all about thought processes, behaviour and ‘life style’. It is something far more deep reaching and fundamental than that. You cannot think your way out of depression, just as you cannot think your way into it.

However, I still see the important role of thinking in keeping you there once you are there and the dreaded making a bad situation seem worse!

Depression for me makes all the bad things seem inevitable and the source of the bad things far more powerful than it truly is. It is like a wall of despair, a vast amorphous barrier, so tall you cannot possibly see over, or around it. But when we focus in on this behemoth, we see that it is made up of individual components, and our perspective is that of someone hunched, low and defeated.

Stand up to your full height and the wall, whilst still imposing, is not so large. Focus in, and though you will see the strength of your enemy, the weak points also reveal themselves.

Breaking it all down –

My new direction is to break it all down in my mind; to dispel this mythic image of an undefeatable, invincible, inevitable foe. I know that the hostility of capitalist society is a very real thing, not just an imagined enemy. But lets use our imagination too break it down into realistic components.

Nature is being destroyed by the machine, but cracks in the pavement are full of life, chopped down trees unexpectedly sprout a thousand branches, certain species thrive even in this era of mass extinction. In ten years time an abandoned neighbourhood will become a wild garden, in a hundred it will become a grove, in a thousand there will be nothing left of it, strangled and hidden by thriving life. Nature is going no-where, and it is never far from regeneration. This ancient thing is more resilient than us, and we will always live in its beautiful shadow.

The officials who keep the machine running, do they truly believe in what they are doing? Would they not rather be pursuing some goal more true to themselves, spending time with their children, resolving emotions they have repressed, exploring and finding themselves? The amount of coercion and brainwashing needed to keep people in their place to blunt their true dreams and ambitions is proof positive that most people, even those in positions of power, are themselves led along and trapped by the madness of civilization. The lack of self-knowledge and true ambition, this is a reason to pity the machine-servants, hypnotized by digital screens, life void of meaning but for the targets from above and the will of invisible figures more powerful than themselves.

Advertising is everywhere, shallow, crass, idiotic pleas for conformity. But there is nothing democratic about advertising; it is there, but who wants it there but the sad corporations trying to control our choices? No one is really taken in on a conscious-level; eyes are rolled on the tube, people take the piss out of the sell-out celebrities, a bad pun elicits a long groan. Deep down, a subconscious lever may have been triggered, a greater sense of dissatisfaction and desire to go on holiday to ‘discover life in Greece’ (or whatever). But this is again an affliction – how many of us would vote to give powerful corporations thousands upon thousands of square metres of space to try and influence our decisions? The ubiquity of advertising only demonstrates how fucked up property and power is in our society, not the democratic will of the people. Some of the more idiotic populace might find advertising interesting or be consciously duped by its bullshittery, what can be done for such a hopeless minority?

It can be a loveless existence suffering from mental illness. You are vulnerable and need to be loved more than most people, but that same vulnerability makes trusting others difficult, and that same hurt makes you less desirable. The lack of strength and stability is a massive turn off. Month after month of failure and rejection makes the chances of finding a woman who is interested seem less and less likely, a feedback loop of frustration and disappointment. But all this doesn’t make things impossible, only more difficult. The spiral down into despair is one that is hard to avoid here; it is informed by the deep subconscious wounds and triggers of childhood, but it is not inevitable. Am I totally helpless and disadvantaged by this depression and anxiety? Everything to do with this mental illness and the abuse of the past makes the whole sphere of love much harder for me. Still, the act of breaking down how mental illness is contributing to isolation and lack of love dispels the mist, promotes understanding. It is the gargantuan wall which leads to despair, not the individual bricks. Maybe through understanding things will change and improve, though I cannot promise this to myself or anyone else. At least they cannot get any worse. Going from things are hopeless to who knows what can happen, I will have no judgements is a massive luxury for me at the moment. Neutrality – feeling neither loved or unloved, does not feel so bad.

End of Part I

The Alienated Man (finds his home)

I am not alone.

Naturally alienation goes hand to hand with isolation, but it is not true.

I am feeling the extent of my socialization, how far I have fallen into the pit.

The malaise inside me, the toxic poison, is spread far and wide.

It is one thing to know it intellectually, but this is still an isolating experience. The intellect is in me, I go round and round in it.

But after reading the ‘manifesto’ of another alienated young man, I really started to feel that is was not just about me.

Low self-esteem, sexual frustration, humiliation, abuse, neglect, isolation, no belonging, no tribe, no purpose… this is the life of a lone outcast. It is the promise of a painful, lonely, unfortunate life.

Attraction to someone, romantic or otherwise, is not purely an individual matter. It depends on being identified with a tribe or community. The alienated male is the ultimate outsider, he doesn’t belong to anything. This is what repulses people from him, not necessarily his own character. But alienation is all he knows, the sweet sense of belonging given or earned by others not yet his, or not enough to nullify the dangerous darkness and resentment bred by wasted, lonely years.

Not all alienations are the same. I feel much distance from other alienated males, who often see no further than their own shadow. My alienation is partly productive – a distancing from a sick and destructive society, and the evils of patriarchy. I am glad I do not fit in, to a degree. This does not make my alienation healthy or righteous – I am yet to find my tribe, the collective that will enable real change and real struggle to happen.

But perhaps I, as a total ‘loser’ in the eyes of society, am perfectly equipped to engage with questions of alienation, drag myself out of this dark pit and maybe encourage others to do so also.

It really feels like I am finally going somewhere, coming to realize the patterns which have caged me. I want to scream and lash out – not to hurt people, but certainly to express the power of my feeling to those who are doing the hurting!

If only men could express themselves more freely and without guilt, how much less suicide and murder there would be. If only we put the blame where it truly lay, upon the shoulders of patriarchal giants who watch us ‘lesser’ beings be destroyed at their feet, who laugh and humiliate down at us. If only we dared challenge the polite society which allows people to fall through the net, distributes wealth and opportunity unequally, disconnects us from the world, ruled by insanely short-termist, stupid bickering politicians and nihilistic businessmen. When there is an explosion of violence or a suicide, these motherfuckers have blood on their hands.

It is no law of the universe that a percentile of men will be fucked up, alienated and vulnerable. We can have a society far less violent and far less deranged if we wanted it. Perhaps people are afraid of the void, of realizing how pointless their labours are, afraid to aspire to anything better than the nihilism of spiritually dead capitalism.  But by daring the dark tunnel of truth we can come out into a world better than this one.

That is to all the people who said I was a cynic all these years! The ‘cynicism’ was necessary to break chains, now I am free, terrifyingly free, to dive deep into myself and the cosmos and emerge, flawed and never-complete, but still empowered enough to howl in rage at the prison we have created for ourselves, and howl for freedom for all.

The unimaginative masses who couldn’t see beyond capitalism, the underachievers who conform to earthly power for fleeting pleasures, the unambitious workers who gave up their dreams to step onto the treadmill and escape themselves – the multiplication of all these short-fallings is the slow death of the world itself! Just ask the climate scientists, and just look at the dispossessed figures on every high street.

But I do not want to paint a dark picture of gloom, because I do not believe it! There are lots of good people out there, good people with good hearts striving for the right kind of change.  Connecting with them is the short-term solution to alienation, and together with them we can build the long-term solution of post-capitalist society.

The alienated, frustrated, lost and lonely male need not be so for long. He can mature, challenge the misogyny around him for something uplifting and magnanimous, he can find the love he seeks once he dares look deeply into himself, learns to laugh at his contradiction, sees women as human beings rather than ‘angels and whores’, realizes that sex and power is not an elixir of self-completion. He does not need to compare himself to ‘alpha’ males or entitled, enabled white middle-class this, that and the others. We can free ourselves from these ‘ideals’ whenever we want, for those ideals are based on an othering, and othering is always a violent affair. Only the most malicious of humanity who benefit from othering and trampling others might want such a system – fuck them!

Two fingers up at the patriarchy, and then a hammer for its heart!

Lets go back into our feminism and our socialism, but also remember that an advocacy for men is necessary and nothing to be guilty for, so long as it avoids the landmine strewn hells of misogyny which stain this movement for recognition. Men need advocacy and can learn much from (the saner-strains of) feminism!

We can rise again! Alienation is just a passing phase, belonging awaits all creatures of nature and spirit, which we inevitably are.

There might always be some void inside us, some capacity to feel alienation and distance from the world around us. I believe this to be a painfully necessary evolutionary adaptation, to prevent society from solidifying too much, or going fucking insane without anyone to say ‘hold on, this is fucked, lets change it’. And further, I believe that like all creatures of the cosmos we face a nature of beauty but also terror, and that all beings experience some degree of naturally occurring coldness and anxious void at our ambivalent situation.

But the great void cannot be endured forever, we need to get a hold on it and regulate it. Cynicism and distance are necessary but must be tempered with intimacy, the intimacy we all need as bio-spiritual creatures.

My own days of alienation must come to an end!

From spirit to corpus

I am currently reforming, from pure spirit into semi-corporeality. I can feel with highly attuned senses this filling out. The point of wavering, the half-way mark, I have just passed.

It does not mean I will remain this way from now on, only that the cycle is completing itself. Esteem is returning, self-repair units, silent and invisible, are patching things back together in their gradual way; sleep is easy again and I don’t see any gaping holes when I look down.

Self-esteem collapse is something familiar to me. It is a volatile and dangerous state to be in. I feel destructive, drawn to annihilating things people have got for me. It triggers an infinite feedback loop: ‘you need someone, but you are not good enough for anyone’. The friction of these energies causes internal conflict, and drains the soul of its precious resources. In this state I reject others before they do me, and then feel further conflict and guilt for it (despite the fact that it feels right). Everyone is suspect – just because they haven’t abandoned yet, it does not mean they will not. There is a strong element of despair also, things seem inevitable and unchangeable. The only way is to destroy or get away.

I know what it is to be pure spirit, to feel like you have no corporeal form, invisible and insubstantial. To feel like nothing but emotions raging. This is the space where people develop addictions and destroy all that is good in their lives.

I do not understand it, nor how to resolve it. It does seem to go away, or at least recede into the distance. I have started reading on ressentiment, and thankful to the great scholars who have done work on this phenomena. Now that I am returning to the world whole, I can use this opportunity to learn how to break the cycle, or at least delay its return and have longer days of real life.