Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Belief, Exhausted

Everything's harder when you're tired. Especially belief.

Sleep is something of a foreign concept to me lately, probably due to the usual holiday stress and SAD. Why do we do this to ourselves? I suppose I should rephrase that question to why do I do this to myself? But removing yourself from a cultural conspiracy is a difficult proposition.
I could say that I'm talking about FA, or the idea of holiday gift-giving expectations, or body image, or the expectation to always live up to some potential ingrained in the image of you that others insist on holding. The answer I pick wouldn't confirm or detract from the truth of any other. The wonderful thing about truth is that it is so seldom based in fact. If there even is such a creature.

But when I'm tired, the insidious creeping hate masked as common sense seems to drown out and cut deeper than the truth. Maybe because negativity has always played better to my cynicism. I should say our cynicism, because backstabbing political ads wouldn't still be airing if they didn't work. Or maybe it's because a few months of Fat Acceptance hasn't erased the 28 years of being programmed to believe that what others direct at me is somehow my fault, and something I deserve for daring to be built the way I am. I really should avoid Quixotic windmill-tilting opportunities like the Majikthise fat-hate thread, but it's like driving by a traffic accident. In this particular case, it's like recognizing the driver as someone you know. At any rate, it makes me realize that if wounds can be opened so easily by total strangers then perhaps they're not healing as completely as I thought.

I have a friend with the philosophy of "what other people think of me is none of my business." Of course it's a difficult thing to live up to and he often doesn't, but that doesn't mean it isn't a laudable ideal. It's something like Ruiz's second agreement. The Four Agreements may be newagey, and I may disagree with the workability or advisability of a lot of it, but there is some good amongst the silly. One good out-of-context quote is: "Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream." In other words, when someone reacts negatively to us, their reaction is not necessarily an objective commentary on us, but more an expression of them. A weight-bigot is expressing their self-loathing, a rude person is expressing their despair, a cocky ass-hat is expressing their insecurities, and a kind person is expressing their love. None of it has anything to do with your own value, worth, humanity, or any other moral measurement. If a person pays you a compliment, they may be doing so to make themselves feel better, or because they feel good and wish to maintain it. The same person after a bad day may criticize what they complimented. That doesn't mean your value has changed, it means their own paradigm has shifted. In effect, you don't have to take anything, compliment or criticism, personally. Or, "what other people think of you is none of your business."

Like I said, it's an imperfect ideal. If you follow it exactly then you have no mirror to hold up to the fixable imperfections. Sure, if someone else thinks I have a character flaw then I have to consider the source. If my imperfections are part of many different paradigms, however, then I have a basis for self-examination to see if there may be some truth in it. I respect the opinions of those I respect, even if I don't take them as absolute truth. That is the line between respect and pedestal-building. The latter will always fail. Complete insularization is as dangerous as allowing others to dictate your self definition. There is always a middle way. But in the meantime I'll keep reminding myself that what other people think of me is none of my business...unless I choose to make it so.


Ursula said...

"what other people think of me is none of my business" ... wow, that is awesome! I think I'm going to make that my new motto for 2008. Thanks for writing about it and giving me something to think about. :)

Linda said...

Liked what I read from someone a long time ago: "Rudeness is a weak person's attempt to be strong." It cut down a lot of rudeness on my part, and gave me a different perspective on everyone else's.

JoGeek said...

"Rudeness is a weak person's attempt to be strong."

I like that :-) When someone is acting rude and/or arrogant, I always think of the line from Hamlet: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." When you think about where strong reactions come from, it's very often fear. Most people (and I include myself!) don't even realize they're over-compensating, except on an instinctive level. Or when their anger is really just a disguise for fear.

Meowser said...

"What you think of me is none of my business" is a phrase that was first popularized by a New Agey writer named Terry Cole-Whitaker, who wrote a book by this title in 1982. Cole-Whitaker was something of a forerunner of Marianne Williamson, a Church of Religious Science minister with a cult following of sorts. I always found her sort of irritatingly smug for the most part -- in this book, for example, she says that if you're fat you can "change your metabolism" to burn more of what you eat by thinking right, but never illustrates exactly how to do it -- but I do like that phrase.

JoGeek said...

Meowser: So that's where he got it from! Now I get to "aha!" him on it, thanks :-) I'm glad he only took the one line from the book and tossed the rest.

Jimi said...

If you are feeling tired a large portion of the time, and especially if you snore, you might be suffering from sleep apnea, a common condition nowadays. The treatment for it is very effetive and dug free so it might be something you should look into.

JoGeek said...

Jimi: I don't snore, and really the reason I'm tired all the time is that I don't fall asleep until 1 or 2am and the alarm goes off at 6. I'm working on a combination of Yoga and meditation to help calm the "racing brain" issues that keep me up.