Archive for making the best of bad situations

What are You At War With?

Posted in continued learning, enjoyable living, quest for content, relationships, staying alive, trust, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by dredslack

It doesn’t take more that a casual perusal of the human race to see that being in conflict is a habitual, if not natural, part of the fabric of the human condition. It probably had to be; if we weren’t a race of fighters we wouldn’t have made it through our species’ early peril. In order to not be eaten by predatory animals we had to fight. In order to not be killed off by disease we had to learn about and implement disease prevention, another fight. The weather could take us out with a lengthy tsunami or an ill tempered hurricane so we needed to fight such events by implementing strategies to protect ourselves under those conditions. As we evolved into tribal culture we fought with each other and if we couldn’t defend ourselves we suffered the consequences. I think it’s pretty clear we’re not going to stop being fighters anytime soon, but perhaps we can be conscious of these energies and direct them to productive rather than destructive ends. 

“I don’t have a part of myself that’s like that. I’m not a fighter at all”, is a common reaction to the aforementioned assertion. Indeed some of us are so far from the aggressive side of ourselves that we may not even know it’s there, but in my 25+ years of being a practicing shrink I’ve frequently observed the nicest, most polite and very submissive people turn into a match for Attila the Hun when their children were threatened or during divorce proceedings etc. Virtually all of us have a ‘fighter’ in us.

  This ‘warrior energy’ or whatever you want to call it isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact we may need it now more than ever, albeit with a different perspective and manner. We don’t need to engage in violence to use it, we can fight cruelty, poverty, injustice, unfairness, discrimination, intolerance, ignorance, environmental abuses, etc., etc., in non-violent formats. This is incredibly important right now because as our society moves forward and changes at an increasingly rapid pace the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in many individuals is awakened and spurred on by fear of what the ensuing change might bring. Resultingly, these folks will fight to keep the familiar, and the injustice, cruelty, discrimination, ignorance, unfairness and the like that go with it. Of course their battles will be dressed up with catchy slogans and misdirecting symbolism and the charge will be led by appealing pundits speaking in catchy sound bytes, but it’s nonetheless a fear based fight against change. Unless those of us who want our world to improve use our talents and ‘fight’ energies and take action to support forward moving beliefs and causes, we may be defeated by those who fight because of fear. 

 We now have the technical know how to destroy the whole planet (at least the surface area) so obviously, on the macro level, we have to back off some from our war-like tendencies or we’re all screwed. Of course each of us have our own personal battles with our families, our waistlines, relationships etc., and sometimes those battles leave us with little or no time for anything else (like severe addiction or sickness). For those of you who aren’t in the folds of such personal crisis my question is: “What are you at war with?” What makes you angry enough to take action because what’s currently happening is intolerable and you’re willing to put some energy in to changing it?

Our swords these days can be taking the time to sign a petition, speaking up a bit more than usual, making aware consumer choices, practicing informed voting, donating some time or money to a favored cause or whatever. If we take the time and spend some energy to fight for what’s important to us, in a manner that works for us, for just a few minutes a day we will be making an important and positive contribution. It certainly sounds corny and I’m sorry if I’ve come off like some sort of pushy cheerleader but a little bit of action from a lot of us can make a huge real difference. Go Team!!

Disasters and Doors to a Better Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by dredslack

Disasters and Doors to a Better Life

This may sound a bit Pollyanna (unrealistically positive), particularly if you’re currently enduring one of life’s bone crushingly hard phases, but its true: If we learn from the disasters we survive we can use what we’ve experienced as doors to a better way of life. Perhaps a lot better and possibly in ways we couldn’t have gotten to without the rough bits.

Your disaster might be a random chance disaster, like a brick falling on you as you’re walking downtown or some unexpected (and undeserved) disease. It could be a disaster of your own making, like a cell phone jabbering auto accident or a last second decision to go ‘all in’. Often it’s a combination of both; sure he was charming, intelligent and oh so attractive but you didn’t let yourself see his two legged snake signals of showing up late too often, being secretive about his past and you forgave him faster than the blink of an eye when he told you he had an STD after you had sex.

Whatever the cause, when disaster strikes all the emotional stages show up; denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. We’ll do our ‘laps’ with them, in our own personal style, until the reactive emotion subsides & we start putting the pieces of our lives back together. If we’re going to turn this disaster into a doorway to a better, more informed, wiser way of living we’re going to have to look at what happened as honestly as possible, while not expecting ourselves to be perfect, wallowing in self pity or finding a goat to scape. We need to strive to understand what happened from a non-judgmental (‘it’s not good or bad, this is just what happened’) perspective and ask ourselves what this pain filled experience has taught us. Take your time, this is a big event; give yourself all the space you need to process it properly. Writing things out from all sorts of perspectives can be a good idea and can give you other angles to process your experience from. Be wary of the counsel of friends. They may be well intended and sometimes wise but my experience has been that much better results are achieved when this type of journey is held in a more personal light.

Disasters big and small befall all of us and even really, really good people aren’t excluded. If you learn from your disasters and open a door to a better life you’ve taken a bad situation and made something good come out of it. I can’t think of a better way to deal with it, can you?

Dr. Ed Slack // 2010

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