Observations of myself and others in humans

About three years ago I reached a pinnacle in my drinking career. It was a pinnacle I fell from so severely that I was hospitalized at an in treatment rehabilitation center for over sixty days. My career, health, family relationships, and living standard where on the brink of being lost if I did not make significant change.

Most people, if not everyone, struggle with life.  Life is a plethora of unknowns constantly being thrown at someone and demanding to be dealt with in a whole other plethora of methods. Some people adopt methods that allow them to deal with life in a very efficient manner while others struggle to find ways to cope with the day to day toil. These behaviors they develop over time determine how their life will unfold and how they will feel about it. Some people hide their pains or deal with them in invisible ways while others openly express how they feel all the time.  Of course there are too many methods of dealing with life to describe and get in to - not to mention my complete lack of understanding of them so we will spare some of the assumptions. I have my way of dealing with life and it is unique to me but it is not greater or less than anyone else's. It was however, at a time, much more visible than some other methods over time as it began to take its toll.

Some methods I believe people deal with life that I share are the following:

  • Avoid life

    • You stay at home and are afraid that any interaction might cause further pain so instead you cozy up with your pain and end up nurturing it.  You might form a symbiotic relationship with it and without even noticing feed it so that it grows and stays ever present.

    • Avoidance can manifest in so many different ways other than the obvious reclusive behavior.  Distractions are a culprit of this method and most often always tie in with the suppressive method talked about below.

    • Any process of distraction from life can form a feedback loop of negative reinforcement.  Over the years it can grow very strong and be really painful to deal with. Unfortunately we are often taught to avoid pain and uncomfortability.  The risk of doing that is that we can endure a low or suppressed amount of pain if we are comfortable enough for a long time thus building a comfortable environment in which to sit with our pain and call it acceptable.

  • Suppression

    • This is probably the hallmark of previous generations and has such an engendered ethos on our society that it can be considered weak to not be a person who suppresses feelings.  Although it seems that these days more and more people are coming fourth with their stories there is still much to be learned about how and when to communicate as well as how to receive it and teach what is ok and what is not.

    • Suppression is my subconsciousness’ drug of choice. It has always been easy to suppress feelings of doubt and shame or fear with alcohol or drugs. This of course includes for some people social drinking and cigarettes.  It can also include food stuffs, TV, Video games, gambling, etc.

    • We suppress our feelings to avoid them.  Sometimes this can be a good thing but repetitive over time usage of this to deal with any and all situations can deflate the mind and cause a loss of self.  Recovering addicts can attest to the results of suppression if you ask them “What has it been like emotionally for you since you have been in recovery?”. A common answer might be “It feels like I am alive and feeling things for the very first time.” because the emotions come so intensely and are so foreign that they are completely new to deal with.

    • A suppressed person can have a very difficult time with opening up.  Learned behaviors compound over time and can create what feels like a prison to break out of.  You know you want to express yourself but the brain sends pain signals to discourage you from doing so.

    • A suppressive substance can often loosen the social drive and help break the ice, but used all the time for everything over a decade or so and you may have yourself a real problem.

    • Again, this behavior compounds over time and begins to take over. Rather than deal with a situation some people tend to prefer to suppress that its even there a all.

  • Anger / volatility

    • Anger, aggression, fear, all lead to the darkside

    • Humans inherit the animal instinct that if they make themselves look big and scary enough they will get what they want.

    • Most people do not want to hurt others around them but when they do not know how to deal with the situation before them it can be a common go to for our lizard brain to stand up in arms against good friends/family and colleagues as a way to deal with the situation.  This often takes form as an outburst or snide comment followed by regret, shame and remorse. Unfortunately regret, shame, and remorse also compound. They stack and like a fire that is getting too much fuel will eventually explode. It feeds itself, you see, it's like a living entity. This trait can be observed with someone who seems ultimately calm but occasionally has aggressive outbursts.

    • This behavior can often lead to short term successes and victories but also often cost relationships and harbor negative feelings.  It is one that is also etched into our brain over time making the behavior more easily accessible, more normal, and tougher to change.

I think communication is the tool that can unlock the paths to our greatest potential.  We must relearn to communicate our feelings and our situations if we are to break the cycles and carve our own paths. Unfortunately this can seem like an overwhelmingly daunting task.  I have talked to people about this and most state that if they started communicating honestly they would likely lose everything they had. Has life become such a charade that we placate each other so to never upset the balance? That we guard our own prison walls so tightly for fear of the unknown?Communication with ourselves is another key worth mentioning.  How often do you know what feeling you are feeling and why? You might try to notice when you are feeling something rather than just feeling it.  It might be beneficial to record you feelings and note how often they are happening. Its work and work sucks but because it is uncomfortable it almost surely entices change.

Don’t fix what isn't broken.  Our brains are wired to create problems.  For thousands of years our brains where always finding out what was wrong with our situations so we could improve them and survive.  These days survival is easier and easier so as our brain scopes for problems it may bring all kinds of things to your attention that are in fact not problems at all.  I believe this is a contributing factor to why so many are dissatisfied with their current lives. Not a big enough house, not a fast enough car, too many pounds around the belly, need to have products we can not afford.

Please be grateful if you are reading this.  You have electricity and probably shelter, heat, water and food.  That brings you more luxuries at your basic level to more than half the entire world.  I do not think your problems are small or insignificant comparatively. You have a right as a human to feel ill or uneasy with anything you choose to but remember it can be a choice.  Circumstance is the unfolding of life around us and we are the perceiver who notices it happening. We can notice ourselves having feelings but we do not need to be controlled by them. Everyone perceives life differently because everyone is infinitely different.

I write this without motivation or cause to believe it should be helpful whatsoever. I don’t pretend to know any of this to be true or reflect my idea of a better lifestyle. I can not recommend a life that is better than the one we currently all have. I see a line of differences drawn between people who claim to be happy and people who claim to be unhappy.  There seems to be some very common differences such as communication, ability to identify feelings, and routines that promote health to name a few. Most people I know who have a strong belief they are happy also have a history of making disciplined decisions and I suppose more importantly they make very conscious decisions rather than impulses. That's just my observation and ability to understand and communicate my observation though, who knows! What does it all mean to you?

Cheers,

Allen Hall