I need Equanimity…what the hell is that?

It is strange…I feel deeply that I have something to offer people. For a long time I wasn’t sure what it was…I mean, what do I have that other people will want? I searched high and low, racked my brain, trying to figure out what I could do that would cause a lot of people to want what I had to offer (after all, isn’t that the basis for becoming rich? – offering what others want? – whether becoming rich is the goal for me is another topic). Finally, after coming to grips with my own life journey I realized that, well, that journey was, in and of itself, perhaps something I could give back to people. How? Read on.

 

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Through my journey from being a stellar student to crashing into a deep depression as a young man and then crawling out of that hole into a much better place I learned many lessons. I learned those lessons through experience, and by reading about others who had been along that path before. I also ready extensively about scientific research, which offered empirical evidence of what did and what did not work in leading people into a better place. Ultimately, I decided that if these books worked to help me, then maybe other people would find them of use. And that was the seedling of an idea for this blog.

 

From my experience, most people don’t read books that have footnotes or endnotes to them. Most people would rather read a novel, and escape into the world of the author. And, even if people DID want to learn about the information in those learned books, most people didn’t have the inclination or time to review a lot of literature. I did. Well, maybe not the time. But the line of work that I am in naturally leads me to be able to read a lot and synthesize it into bit sized pieces. So, I thought, why not take what you have learned from these books and offer the highlights to others who are suffering? Sounds simple enough. Ok, maybe not simple, but something that I could do.

 

I thought that even if I can’t make money (finally that thought had left my head), at least I could help other people who were going down a similar path as I had gone down. And, the idea of being able to help others was very motivating.

 

I started with a local support group. We meet once a week and listen to the stories of each other, and offer suggestions about what has helped each of us.

 

I created a Facebook page, and posted on that relevant articles.

 

And, ultimately, I started this blog. Err…., well, a former version of it. I started the blog over a year ago. I wrote a few posts, and….then nothing. I couldn’t get any motivation to continue. I re-read my posts, and thought that no one would be interested in what I had to write. So, I stopped, and took down the blog.

 

Then, this autumn I thought I’d take another kick at the can. But I found I still was running up against the same mental blocks…only this time, I had a better understanding of what was motivating or de-motivating me: control.

 

I had it in my mind that “if you build it, they will come”. Well, maybe that works for baseball diamonds in cornfields, but in the world of the world-wide-web, there are millions of such cornfields…and no one was coming. I felt I was powerless to control the eyes of people, and to direct them to my thoughts.

 

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“…starting from the beginning of our lives, we love to make things happen. Part of that pleasure is the perceived control-the sense that you are in control, whether or not you are. Clinical depression is a condition that is usually precipitated by, and always accompanied by, the loss of perceived control. Our perceived control is a wellspring of happiness when it’s not associated with inner pressures and self-consciousness. In fact research suggests that if you lose your perceived control, you can become very unhappy and even possibly die from it”.[1]

 

Oh shit, I don’t want this blog to cause me to fall down into that hole of depression again because I can’t CONTROL whether people look at my blog or not! SO what was I to do?

 

I realized that I had to be kind to myself. As Polly Young-Eisendrath says: “Self-compassion includes three components: being kind and understanding towards oneself, rather than self-critical (self-kindness); viewing one’s negative experiences as a normal part of the human condition (being ordinary, as I’ve called it here); and having mindful equanimity rather than over-identifying with painful thoughts and feelings (mindful acceptance). Self-compassion allows people to work through obstacles and accept limitations that might otherwise prevent their ongoing commitment to an endeavour or relationship”.[2] So, I have to be kind to myself. I have to accept the negative experiences as part of life. And, I have to have equanimity. What the hell is equanimity?

 

Equanimity is “…a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.”[3] It is the state of having an even-keeled mind. I almost think of equanimity as a suit of armour. When I am in this suit, the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” can’t hurt me. I am impervious to the negative thoughts of others; I am unperturbed by things beyond my control.

 

So, by being these three things, I could have self-compassion. Big whoopee. How does that help? I mean, really, if accepting these ideas makes me more kind to myself, how does that help me write this blog? Apparently, it allows me to “work through obstacles…that might otherwise prevent [my] ongoing commitment to [this] endeavour”.

SO, there it is. Not quite: I don’t care. But more: well, if people like this, good. If there is no response, then I am still content. I will not beat myself up for not being a “perfect” blog-writer. I will (try) not to get discouraged that I feel alone in this endeavour. I will be content that I am doing my best, with the best intentions of helping others, and if I do not make a difference in the lives of a great many people, hopefully I can make a great difference in the life of one.

 

 

FOOTNOTES – if you like what you’ve read, you can read more here….click on the link….or check out the book from your library, it’s free!

[1] Polly Young-Eisendrath, “The Self-Esteem Trap”, (New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2008), p193.

[2] Polly Young-Eisendrath, “The Self-Esteem Trap”, (New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2008), p128.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equanimity

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