Overcoming despair

Despair is a tide of black horsemen attacking in endless torrent

Defeated upon the spear of self they vanish into shadow and mist

Reform and attack again. Another round, again and again

Their black cloaks veil the horizon and their screams

Drown out the chatter of songbirds.

 

For a breath they are gone, enough time to rest

To catch a dream, to take the whetstone

To the blunted blade and check your armour

Before the pounding hoof returns, amplified a hundredfold

Barrelling, charging, pitch-black steeds and riders.

 

But even despair runs out of power, fails to regenerate

Is banished back into the depths to await its return.

Never truly defeated, but delayed.

Despair is a part of me, like any other

Removed only with the final-death of this form.

 

Life is not just a question of understanding and awareness.

One must be as a mule on a mountain path

Or the mountain itself, hard as ancient stone

To survive the onslaught of the black horsemen

Who rush and charge until they are spent.

 

With the depths of despair comes the logic of despair

Everything is fed into its matrix of shadow and mist.

A strange eternity and certainty, that things will always be dark

Defies the ever-changing cosmos and its uncertainty.

The illusions of despair, they are a strong thing indeed.

 

But let the philosopher who believes in light and mind

Face despair and survive, if he thinks truth alone will do!

To become as stone is also a human aspect;

To wait out the storm, to be hard and unmoving, to be strong

Until the darkness passes and flesh can again be resumed.

 

This is what is necessary to survive in this world;

So much for dreams of sensitivity, perfect justice and eternal spring.

Black Lives Matter is opening a portal

I believe that Black Lives Matter is opening a portal, one many people would rather not face.

It is boldly making public the oppression faced by black communities, led and directed by black communities.

I believe it is saying: ‘Look, there is external oppression. The problem does not begin in individuals.’

This movement will open the way to liberate all minorities, the disabled, the poor, the gender dysphoric, the forgotten working class, all oppressed persons.

It has been both cathartic and painful. It makes me realize the following maxim: No internal development without external development. No real bettering yourself when you are being oppressed on a daily basis.

The only way to truly better ourselves as individuals is to bring down the oppressive forces which truncate us and make us live in a compromised state. When minorities are no longer forcefully classified with a negative tribal identity then we can fully begin the task of individuation.

I have had a lot of well-to-do white friends tell me it is all in me, or that it starts in me. It isn’t all in me and it doesn’t start with me.

There is no ‘me’, as there is no ‘you’. There is a simultaneous relation – it starts in me when it starts outside of me. People might think they are empowering others by placing the emphasis on the individual. In reality it is frustrating and false; a rosey platitude that leaves us in an oppressed state, wondering why we can never get anywhere. We can only bring about social change together, by being a node of consciousness in a great sea, until critical mass is reached and the evils of old are washed away by our collective tide.

Black Lives Matter is a mirror held up to society. It is a reminder that these dark and sad feelings, these inferiorities and self-hatreds come from without. Not just for my black brothers and sisters but by extension to all oppressed minorities of all creeds. Systematic oppression can feel like a personal problem when it isn’t addressed on such a mass scale.

And why would power want it addressed? And why would those more free from systematic oppression be willing to face up to the dark truth of the freedoms they take for granted? We cannot always rely on allies and less the system which creates such problems in the first place.

Black Lives Matter.

Nagged to death

Worn down and down and down, little by little. Patched up, torn again, scraped and clawed.

In life, despair is not inevitable; our own suffering is not possible. But the despair of others is inevitable, their ceaseless whining and grating.

Not everyone can be a hero of their own soul. Other people can be poison, pullers-back, holders-down, draggers into the dirt, pitiable and pathetic.

Other people are the worst fate you could suffer. The worst thing is they are everywhere and entirely necessary in this phase of human-social evolution. There is no escape and no means of finding the ‘good tribe’ which does not actually exist.

I feel beset by parasites, latching on and wearing down what it means to be fully human. Children bawling at the world, unable to understand themselves, caged by their own  stupidity. Underachievers who want everything else to match their dystopian, fallen, pathetic vision.

Such lowness, feminine impotence, lack of introspection – are these the beings God created? Are these the ones chosen to direct the course of nature by his divine decree, to be custodians of the world and deciders of what lives and what dies?

This is the saddest joke of them all. A great evil inspires great heroism. But a slow death, a clawing out of your ability to feel; the endless waste of time and energy which makes your sensitivity a vice, this is an entropic force that cannot be stopped by force and heroism. An Achilles could not withstand it, a Pythagoras could not understand it, an Arthur could not rally the tribes against it.

It must be final evidence of the absence of a benevolent, metaphysical saviour. Why would anything of Good aspect create beings that can destroy others just by the power of their voice? Why would the all-mighty design so many to waste so much time and energy in endless futility, leaving only absurdity and suffering in their clueless wake?

The mouth that never shuts

The mouth that never shuts

Its voice is an endless rattle

Its speech denotes nothing.

 

A mouth connected to eyes

But eyes which reach no mind

Nought to temper time into words.

 

A mouth without a mind

A voice that should be powerless

But rattles on until breathing its last.

 

A mouth that issues commands

To jumble the world around it

 The chaos of a losing soul.

 

A mouth that never shuts

That of a woman’s, a mother’s

As clueless as the day it could speak.

 

 

Apps of the Abyss

In the loneliness of lockdown, a distant light beckoned. Numerous sources spoke of an elysium which was slight enough to be carried in a pocket; a portal of promise and excitement.

Millions of lonely women were flocking to dating apps. This was an unprecedented opportunity to find true love and break the boredom of isolation.

I previously had some experience with dating sites and apps – all of them were like calling into an abyss. But this would be different! Because this time there was the precedent of lockdown. This time I would venture into Dante’s Inferno and make it out with Beatrice in my arms…

Individualism divides us, then releases the for-profit app to unite us.

Once upon a time, there was a post-modern nightmare where no one really had a clue what the hell was going on or who they were.  We lived in an extremely fast, atomized, consumerist society. We were always busy, always supposed to be somewhere else, always trying to get somewhere else, and always worried about how we would get to that somewhere else we were meant to already be at. The system was not something you could participate in and remain a fulfilled, healthy human being. Doing the ‘right’ thing – running on the treadmills of capitalism – was very much the ‘wrong’ thing.

The system was unsustainable; a mental health time-bomb, an unfolding climate catastrophe, a trampling down of those worse effected by its breakneck pace. The mental state it created was one of constant void, not only unfulfilling to the ‘losers’ but also to the ‘winners’. The more winners won, the worse losers lost. The pool of intelligent, capable, fulfilled people diminished with widening inequality and the divided society became a riot waiting to happen. The system maintained itself with a cocktail of caffeine, anti-depressants, chemical anxiolytics and perhaps the worst drug of them all – an ideological addiction to endless activity.

Amidst all of this busy-ness and dissatisfaction, was the very human need for connection. Something which not even centuries of capitalist exploitation could destroy. Nor could it completely ignore the primal needs of the spiritual-complexes which make up human beings. Especially not when there was a whole new market to be ventured into and an entire domain of human interaction to commodify. A little l-word which some exalt, some decry and those like me shrug when confronted with.

Love.

Then a microscopic terror spawned from the cavern-dwelling bats of the east and it all came to a grinding halt.

Here in the present our atomized, individualistic society still has us hungry for real connection, whilst also separating us from that connection. We want to spend more time with others but have the precedent of survival to attend to, shunted around from rented-room to rented-room, uprooted from communities, always demanded upon to be productive.

People who are satisfied, creative and connected do not make good consumer-drones, nor do they let authoritarian institutions make all of the decisions. The system needs us divided and dissatisfied to maintain itself, whilst also needing to keep us just functional enough to carry it upon our backs.

The lack of true society creates an opening for exploitation. Social media begins to fill in a gap which is created by all this money-making, consuming and faffing around. But it cannot truly satisfy even those who fully embrace it, let alone those who know what it means to belong to genuine, organic, human community. It is a watered-down broth and the human soul fundamentally rejects it. There is no fooling the deepest soul of natural creatures; we are not evolved for atomized individualism.

The logical consequence of such digital non-connection is the Dating App – the portal into the abyss. People do not have time to explore real social circles, to meet potential partners through the more ‘organic’ channels. Meeting a partner is already a difficult endeavour, let alone when juggled against capitalist ego survival. So a market is created to fulfill our ‘connection’ needs. Also, fundamentally, our ‘fornication’ needs.

These abyssal apps are full of promise, accessible and in the palm of your hand. But they are more like a pact with Mephistopheles than a free path to fulfillment. Powerful companies hold information on thousands of people; their names, faces and even locations. This data can and often will be sold; the app is never free; Hell always demands its toll. Nor does it pretend to be fully free – those who pay monthly subscriptions get more chances to be seen and to be ‘successful’. Dating apps are for-profit, they are not for-love. Who would have thought that companies operating in a capitalist society would try to profit from something as ‘pure’ as love!

The longer you spend swiping left or right, the more time and hope you invest, the more of yourself you digitalize and commodify, the better for the owners and shareholders. The apps do not need to work for people to use them – they only need people to think they will. Just as we are fed a message of ‘work hard and you will prosper’ with the next million a mere business idea away, so we are always one swipe away from ‘The One’ who comes into our lives and fulfills us.

Shallowness is not a side-effect of these dating apps. Shallowness is the core value without which they could not exist. The apps depend upon the snap judgements of the human ‘want-love’ impulse and the sadness of the ‘am-lonely’ feeling. As they expand in scope to encompass more and more people, the effect grows worse and worse.

The images of people perceived in the digital realm are unlike the physical realm. They are a contrivance designed to signal perfections which cannot achieved in a spontaneous meeting. You only get to see what the other person desires you to see. In real life you might hear someone’s voice, see their artistry, catch their scent, before you get to see them. They could be confident, charismatic and vivacious. They could compliment you and show you interest, making them appear much more attractive. The spontaneity of the situation could excite and get the heart pumping. But the profile photograph is a lie designed to tell a truth. The ability to swipe through the wall of faces, the endless torrent of images, is unlike anything we have evolved for. From a sedentary position, you can dive into the infinite realm of ‘potential’. It is a massive amount of promised choice, when in reality it is the cheapening of choice until it is all but worthless, but for a privileged or lucky few.

As a man using these apps over the last few days, I delved into a near-infinite digital abyss. Competition is absolutely rampant and imbalance is manifold. Men tend to outnumber women on these apps and also tend to spread themselves more thinly. Women who are considered attractive have hundreds of ‘suitors’ liking them and no small number of barely-articulate opening lines to ‘admin’ through. Men who are considered unattractive or average are invisible. The app determines the chain of potential mates you are exposed to.

The algorithm determines who you see, which can massively determine your perceptions. In my last usage of a dating app I was initially getting a broad spectrum of women appear. Some had filled-in profiles, some did not, some had good pictures, some did not. But it was at least a varied affair of shallowness. Suddenly the ‘learning’ algorithm had a eureka moment, switched and consigned me to the lowest levels of its Stygian abyss. I was only being shown women considered ‘undesirable’ by the millionfold travellers who came before me. Almost all were older than forty, had badly taken pictures, put no effort in their profiles, and who would be deemed by social norms as extremely overweight. The app decided that I was a total loser, so going on its value-system, it tried to put me together with other people who were considered to be on my Stygian gutter-level – a back-handed compliment if ever there was one!

Of course, finding someone unattractive is as natural as desiring someone. It is perfectly within our right to not-like someone in a romantic aspect. But the systematic, algorithmic lumping of people into the lowest levels of abyss is the real injustice. It is a symbol of inequality, for on the opposite pole is the top tier of elysium where only those deemed beautiful may tread. On the other side of the spectrum were gods who were algorithmically exalted, those who would see only a procession of nymphs considered most appealing by the flailing, swiping masses of sweaty-fingered men. It was a deeply pathetic experience, if not a side-splittingly tragic one. It blasted me off the last app with such force that I now enjoy the spontaneous sight of varied, real-human beings outside in a way that I never quite did before. At least out here, in the real-world, I can be a fully three dimensional person.

A great deal of the abyssal feeling came from not knowing if the other person acknowledged my existence. In the real world, you could meet and talk to a woman and know that she has at least received the aural signals composed by your speech organs. Your witty message on a dating app could be lost in a sea of desperate voices, or consigned to the lowest tier of existence because of your refusal to pay for ‘premium’ services. It is an ugly game and a numbers game. Putting trust in strangers on the other side of the a mobile phone; training your own heart to beat faster when you receive a match or a like.

On a simple cost-benefit analysis, even for someone who succeeds with these kinds of apps (which seems a minority), they must think about how much they invested into it; whether that time was better spent actually going outside of the house as they used to do in the Dark Ages. I earnestly believe that it is an utter waste of time for the vast majority, particularly the invisible men and women deemed unattractive by the swiping masses. To those who attach their self-esteem to this digital image, all the worse. Its not necessarily you being ‘rejected’. This game is played with loaded dice.

The greater our means to communicate, the further we separate

I do not truly believe that all digital connection is futile and watered down. Even when I was living in a community, I still had occasion to go onto the shallow realms of social media. Online social spaces can be used for good purposes, if one has the energy to push against their algorithms of distraction and disatisfaction. They can be seem like a decent use of time when confronted with boredom and faced with a hyper-charged digitally-shaped brain.

Likewise with the dating apps – there is a perverse pleasure in the convenience of being able to log in with a tap and be whisked into a realm where you can find your knightess in shining armour. When things did not go to plan initially, I changed my profile, researched opening lines, took better pictures. All phantasmic gestures of control to keep the illusion going. It did feel nice for a few days to be lied to and it did feel exciting to have that sense of power and choice.

But as you can probably guess from the tone of this article, it was all a load of shite.

 

 

A decade of love-pain overturned…

When I was a young man in my twenties, I was isolated and alone. I had a PC full of games, a music keyboard and some precocious aspirations to be a funnyman. I had few friends. Never had a girlfriend, had no female friends and was miles away from any first kiss.

I was content with this (though do not wish to romanticize this time, as it was horrible for other reasons). The humiliations and insults of other men (and sometimes  virginity-mocking women) were like water off a duck’s back. My value-system was different. I would call it similar to an Epicurean system, as Epicurus was by far the most influential philosopher in my life at that time.

At some point in university, this started to change. As I grew older, consciousness began to shift. I started to accept a new value-system, one that was seeping into me from my peers. These uni friends were much more accepting and loved me dearly. But from them, like entering a node into new consciousness, I discovered that there was a whole world out there.

I started to feel anxious and inferior to others. I started to feel a gap in my soul, one that could only be filled by a woman’s love. This would equal ‘completeness’ and fulfillment. Myths circulated that all around me were these red-hearted alpha men who could pull the most beautiful women. And those same women were little interested in the losers of the lower-echelons of manhood, having free choice to pick who they pleased! They had the power and for the rest of us life was a struggle. I have no doubt that these myths have some small element of truth (we still live in a patriarchal society after all), but are nonetheless exaggerated. But how powerful myths can be.

What is disturbing is how quickly they became relevant to me. The prevailing value-system of society, that true love is out there, that one need only “be oneself” to be accepted, that heterosexuality is liberated, that all men are free and privileged – all this was absorbed by me with the force of the Buddha seeing a dead body for the first time.

I realize that I have chased and chased after these myths. But something always held me back. I was unable to gain the approval of society and less the approval of a woman, from my early twenties til today. Something was holding me back – a lack of confidence, unhealed wounds and traumas? All of these, but I believe something even more powerful.

The previous consciousness was still there in the background. The Epicurean was still there, even if he was not at the fore. Now for the first time in a decade I feel something similar to how I used to. My expectations have shifted back with the previous consciousness, now informed by years of experience and actualization.

A state of consciousness has most power if it feels like it is the only way reality can be conceived. If consciousness changes, as mine has done, then it reveals the contingency of consciousness. It is the ultimate antidote to depression – things can change; they do, it just takes time. Even the most seemingly fundamental core values can shift and old ones can be dug up, or new ones synthesize out of the psychic aether!

All of the people I was seeking approval from, be it women to love or friends to boost me up, were keeping me in a previous state of consciousness; in a contradiction with my actual true self. That person was not who I am, nor who I wanted to be. That person was created by complexes of hurt and deep wounds, looking for a way out without having to truly confront them. That voice of Epicurus, that guiding principle buried beneath impossible consciousness, was always there waiting for its ascendency. It took a small psychic-collapse, triggered this time by the lockdown state, to accelerate me to these conclusions and allow for evolution.

The marriage-people and relationship-people and “liberation”-people are not my cohort. Their social norms are oppressive to me because I cannot fulfil their expectations even if I wanted to.  I personally consider their worlds to be too full of competition, jealousy, pain, unfulfillment, broken promises, false hopes. Not the stuff for an Epicurean!

It is for each individual to freely decide their value-system and this cannot be done in a society which idealizes one form over another and coerces, humiliates and degrades people who do not fit the bill.

One can only feel inferior to the happy shiny people if in the same value-system as them. And that game, as I have seen, is one played with loaded dice, with little luck for mentally scarred or the ‘socially awkward’ (i.e. those not able to fit into someone else’s messed-up game of restless competition.)

There is nothing inherently wrong with people wanting to marry, or to have relationships, monoamourous, polysexual or whatever. What oppresses is how these values can be absorbed by young and impressionable minds. What oppresses is how everyone is expected to fit in or suffer. The oppression is born out of belief that this is the only way things can be and that if there is something wrong, it is always with you and not with the system out there.

This knowledge is uncomfortable for those who invest into their “eternal” value-systems. They would rather try to bring a “loser” into the fold than accept a polycentric system of options rather ideals – choose whichever one you want, as and when the depths of your consciousness decide it is so.

All of the linguistic labels: bachelor, single, virgin, loser, alpha, privilege, themselves emerge from the value-system. They have no truth outside of the value-system – for by default we just are who we are.

By analogy: I am not a non-believer because I do not believe in a god to not believe in. I am just me.

I am not alone because I do not believe in a togetherness to believe in. I am just me.

 

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.

 

Little Dragon’s Three Seasons

Little Dragon was born at the start of Autumn.
She believed the whole world to be golden browns and deep reds
Falling leaves and falling climes.

Then came Little Dragon’s first Winter.
She believed the whole world to be icicles and beautiful morning frost
Clear skies and chilling air.

Next came Little Dragon’s first Spring.
She believed the whole world to be lush and verdant, vivid green growths
The hatching of life and the return of the sun.

‘Now I know the nature of the world and its three seasons!’ said Little Dragon.

Momma Dragon laughed and watched without judgement as her daughter ran wild
among the world.

Summer was on its way.

The infinite well of Self-Esteem

Me and my therapist spoke in no small terms about ‘innate value’ and ‘inner dignity’. We talked about the value of self-love, how to cultivate it, how it was prerequisite for the love of another. We assumed that it was something already there, an axiom of the soul.

But I was never fully convinced that there was a source of worth inherently in us. If there was, how could my adult life be plagued with collapses of self-value? I do not believe that with enough ‘practice’ we could ‘self-love’ ourselves back into a place of worth. Nor do I believe it to be true that we need to love ourselves before we can be loved by another.

What others might call ‘inherent value’ I see in a much more nihilistic light, namely normative (or society-given) value. Nature has no inherent value but for the survival of species; cooperating or competing for life. We are no different to any other species, we are the children of nature.

If I had a font of hidden energy and self-value, why is it absent after a lifetime of searching? Perhaps my therapist was just trying to be nice!

A cursory observation of society will demonstrate that people seek to be valued by others. This may be through their position in society – how many people do you see taking pride in their work or striving to get ‘to the top’?

It may be through belonging to a community or ritual place of worship – how many towns do you know of without a church?

It may be in the form of finding a loving partner – how many people do you know who take pride in their relationships? I saw at least five couples publicly demonstrate their affections for each other on my walk through town yesterday.

It shows that we are indeed empty on the inside and in constant need of others; that it is not enough to be with ourselves. Indeed, it is precisely this need for others that drives us forward and allows society to happen. Our emptiness is our driving force and a vital part of who we are.

Despite this gaping void of emptiness and valuelessness within, there is a silver lining.

Every cloud… –

I believe it to be true that low self-esteem can create a downward spiral. The less you value yourself, the less others will value you. This prevents you from turning the tide and rising into a better place. Charity and pity does not feed esteem, nor will people lying to make you feel better. As we are dependent on those around us for esteem, we always have to factor others into our ‘equation of esteem’. This means there can be obstacles to gaining esteem –  coercive group-think and conformity, the presence of ‘alpha males’ who feed off others, prejudice against race / class / gender / and so on, the fear of crowds and groups, to name but a few. When you are low on esteem, these challenges feel insurmountable.

Yet there is nothing that can stop you developing a creative talent. On the way to work, during a lunch break, when you wake up in the middle of  the night – there is always time to develop a skill. No one can give you this talent and no one can anyone take it away. Some people might be privileged by having an earlier start but nothing can stop you from beginning your journey whenever you want.

For myself this saving grace was performance. I don’t need people to believe in me anymore to be a good performer. I don’t need people to tell me I am a skilled musician or actor. It does help to be supported, but I can get by in the hardest environment and know that I can stick it out. The development of performing talents has reached critical mass – there is no turning it back now.

This is what the article title means by an infinite well of self-esteem. It might not always feel right to perform, but when the opportunity and the will align, it is up to one person and one person alone to succeed. Myself.

This does not mean that becoming a craft should be idealized. I do believe that we need to be loved, cared for, checked-in with others, to belong, in order to be fully healthy. A course of CBT or psychotherapy solely working on self-esteem will probably be necessary to make any major gains.

However the infinite well is a factor that can always get you out of the downward spiral.

I have low self-esteem. I do not want to be around other people, so my self-esteem gets even lower. The lower it gets, the less chance anyone is going to want to be around me, so I become more isolated. The more isolated I become, the more I am depressed and therefore anxious. The anxiety prevents me from trying out new situations or talking to new people. It prevents me from taking even the smallest step forward. The lack of inner-value means that no one wants take me on, women are repulsed by the sight of weakness and neediness. Relationships are destroyed by my imbalance and vulnerability. Therefore there is never anyone there to offer a hand up and help me onto my feet.

The key to turning things around is precisely the isolation. Whilst it is not a good thing, it does allow space to develop oneself. It might be boring, emotionally harmful in the long run, repetitive, tedious – but it won’t be forever. If you can train yourself whilst in that place, even just a little bit every day, you can reach a stage where you have a powerful foundation of self-confidence and self-belief. And whats more it will be grounded in empiricism, not the platitudes of a therapist!

There is so much that can be done alone. Playing and composing music, learning how to code websites, creative writing, gardening, growing, cooking, video-blogging.

Skills that can be brought into a social context, such as playing an instrument or community cooking, are especially of value here. They enable someone with low self-esteem to have an ace up their sleeve in competitive social situations or in the predatory capitalist workplace.

Final Mentorly Wisdom –

No one can take away your creative talent, but then no one can give it to you. It is something that must be earned. It requires immense focus and patience. This is precisely what makes it worthwhile, it is truly yours. In the absence of a saviour-figure who will likely never come to rescue you, in the absence of the one-true-love who only exists in faerie tales, creative mastery is the most guaranteed way to turn the tables on low self-worth.

It is not the whole picture, because a person needs to be loved and to belong. But it is a start.

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?