Greetings and Happy Easter! It’s been a bit over a year since we last spiced up the web with an update and we decided it was high time to fix that. Enjoy our first article for the year 2012!
I might not be the biggest fan of dogmatic religion, but if there’s one celebration that I can agree with, that would be celebrating Resurrection or Rebirth. And since it’s Easter, we have people worldwide celebrating Jesus coming back to life after dying on the cross. This will not be a post about religion or what my beliefs are on the subject… that would take long hours of talks at a table with plentiful drinks, a pack of the lightest smokes on the market and one dangerously large pizza and the topic would still not be estinguished! Hence, this post is about coming back to life, rebirth, regardless if we use Easter as a metaphor, the Phoenix, the coming of spring or the simple fact of daylight saving time. To be closer to something more specific, I’d say it’s about hope.
We’ve all had our ups and downs and every once in a while (or in a longer while), we periodically set new records with the downs we hit, either because of the level of said “down” or rather because we hit a down point in a life domain we haven’t hit down points before. Since we here at Mischievous Sweethearts deal with relationship topics, I’d like to stick with that in this regard as well. I have seen a fair number of people going through relationship (or post-relationship) issues that affected them to such an extent that the confusion and pain they perceived subjectively seemed to greatly surpass the manifest, apparent cause. Such “downs” are situations that are both unpleasant as well as perhaps also new, thus one is unable to relate to a past experience one has gotten out of before. It needn’t be a real tragedy in reality, but the subjective perception one has to such an experience can reach great negative proportions in which everything seems hazy, rational thought is paralyzed to the emotionally involved and you can’t really put your finger on the right direction and go with it in full certainty. Time heals, but taking too much time to get out of a conflict can cause collateral damage. If you’re a magician, all tied up in chains, thrown in a tank of water, you will not have the luxury to take your time to sob about how cold the water is or how heavy the chains feel. You will need to hurry the fuck out of your bindings and get the hell out of the water tank or else you DROWN, game over!
I used to have quick fixes for everything. If a friend came up to me and poured her heart out, it would be easy for me to analyze the situation and throw in a solution (glory to the luxury of being emotionally detached!) which would do the trick. Things like the generic “if you’re not happy in situation A and cannot fix it, then leave situation A behind because you will change a 0% probability of happiness with an percentage that can range from 1 to 100%, which is better than the 0% we are already sure of”, the well known “if you have fallen for another guy, it’s a clear sign your initial relationship is broken. Can it be fixes? Yes-How?-Do it! No-Move on!”, the overused animal comparison “If you look at it clearly, the answer is right in front of you: it’s either a cat or a dog” and, one of my old favorites “Life is too short and fucked up for you not to take your chances” (which is actually something a dear friend of mine told me about 10 years or so ago, at a time I really needed to hear those words). It’s impressive how well these phrases work on people who need them. It’s even more impressive how they have no effect once you’re the one who is emotionally involved and you already know the majority of things that can be said in your own situation. It’s like jumping from being expertly in full control to being a second hand retard in managing emotional problems: frustrating like fuck.
I hadn’t really given this much thought until, at some point in the past, I ended up facing a similar situation. I quickly realized the bound-magician-in-the-water-tank metaphor fit perfectly, so my only real chance of getting out relatively unharmed was acting full-speed-ahead out of the chaos that was snowballing behind me… that was less than a second before my emotional sphere used a taser on rational thought. You see, being confused about things you earlier were so sure about, you could practically swear on them, sucks. It sucks because it makes you unsure of your own prior thoughts, it gets you frustrated and, in time, gets you to doubt your every next thought as well. This psychological monster feeds on time and frustration and shits doubt and anxiety. And, for the vicious circle to be complete, when frustrated and in doubt, one tends to take even more time to sort things out, feeding the beast even more. In such circumstances, one either goes spiraling down into mediocrity and/or depression OR one breaks free.
So how do we do it? How do we break free? How does the Phoenix rise again from its own ashes? Well first it needs to completely burn down. All leaves fall before the tree grows new ones in spring. You have to let go of the dysfunctional that can’t be fixed, to be able to build anew. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, especially if one is emotionally attached to the dysfunctionalities themselves or, moreso, addicted to them in a destructive way (e.g. toxic relationships). In such situations, one feels a deep fear or even panic when confronted with parting from the very things that cause the turmoil. This is a paradox I have seen in many, it’s as if their basic survival instinct is temporarily shut down. So, to let go properly, you have to estinguish the fear, break all toxic emotional bonds with the cause of conflict and then procede to removing the cause itself. In all this time, it is essential to stay focused. Doubt lies at every step and what this psychological beast destroys through doubt is self-esteem, having faith in your own choices. You need to patch that up if you’re going to get out of this properly. Constantly being unsure about your decisions, returning upon them, thinking them over for a hundred times then changing your mind every other second and beating yourself up about it, simply REINFORCES SELF-DOUBT and breaks you down even more. Not to mention that it robs you of your time, energy, focus and ability to enjoy the small pleasures of life. Trying to be extremely rational about things in times when your self esteem is low is a slippery slope. You can have the most impeccable logic and still, when done with the theory, your emotional side will kick in and say “what if it’s wrong?”, then make you go through the whole procedure again, resulting in ever more time and resources spent feeding the monster which in return shits another free pile of anxiety and doubt.
At some point in the spiral, you start desperately acting in one direction or another, trying to angle things in such a way that you can escape. Sometimes something really big happens that makes you go “FUCK! I fucked this up”, just to later realize that maybe you haven’t. Sometimes you are uncertain whether it’s really one step backwards into chaos or one step forward towards enlightenment. Tough to say… but the simple fact that you are taking a step is proof that you are able to move, able to make a choice, you are NOT stuck. Try to learn so that the next step you take will be made with more confidence.
To sum things up, if you’re spiraling downward because you hit a fork in the road and there’s a mental monster holding you back from taking either of the paths ahead, for ANY subjective reasons you might be going through (it’s improper to judge people for the reasons that cause them such situations. It’s important to remember that each of us has a personalized emotional response to the things in our lives and that while there are things which for some do not seem like a big deal, those same things can be perceived as being of maximum impact by others – and the other way around) this is one sequence that I have found to be useful to those in need:
ü Identify causing factor.
ü Work your self-esteem back up, be able to trust yourself and be sure about your decisions!
ü Renounce fear and panic!
ü Detach emotionally to revive a rational perspective.
ü Remove causing factor!
ü Enjoy freedom, reinforce self-esteem.
A few tips that might aid you on your way out of the spiral:
· Try not to repeat prior experiences that you already know the result of, they will just consume your time and resources. Chances are that if you tried to stick a large cube into a smaller round hole and it didn’t work for the first 100 times, it will probably not work for the next 1000 times either (we do not encourage you to try something like that for 100 times, but we know you might be tempted to, if far enough down the spiral).
· If somebody reaches out a truthfully helping hand, GRAB ON to it! Fuck pride and accept help if needed. Do so while keeping your dignity intact so as not to damage the self-esteem you’re trying to nurture back to full capacity.
· Be gentle with yourself.
· Get a hobby: something creative that gives you real end results, like drawing, painting, pottery, knitting, volunteering, singing with friends, hitting the gym or even martial arts.
· I’m not the one to sink sorrows in booze, but for the ones who are: DON’T. This should be a time of gaining confidence and self esteem, not ruining them the moment lucidity strikes through the hangover of the next morning.
· Get to know yourself and everything about yourself that makes you who you really are. Learn to believe in yourself again by doing so.
· Do not take things in life for granted. Be truthfully grateful for being yourself, friends, family and everything else you can be grateful for. They really MATTER.
And in case you’re not the one sliding down the spiral but have a friend doing so… be a good listener. Do not judge, even if certain issues might seem small to you, to them they may weigh incomprehensively more. Once you get them talking, don’t let them get stuck to one idea that keeps repeating in their heads… guide the conversation in such a maner that they end up giving themselves the right answers. It’s not easy and attempting to empathize with somebody’s turmoil is far from pleasant. It’s a helping hand that might seem like nothing big to us but may turn things around for the best in those who need it most.
You might have noticed that I didn’t go through the topic of what type of relationship issues causes one to enter a downwards spiral, even though I mentioned toxic relationships and difficult decision-making. This is because reasons may differ drastically from one person to another, just as subjective perception of the world differs from individual to individual. EVERY person has their soft spots, those who “don’t”, simply buried them on a subconscious level. Even so, they can still be reached and stimulated into producing the spiral syndrome. So, spiral-surfers, know that you are not the only ones prone to such experiences. And for the rest of you, show support to those spiraling because every person has his or her own sensitive trigger points.
Here’s to celebrating hope, rebirth, spring, the Phoenix and the great Resurrection. I dedicate this post to all those in need of finding hope within them, of feeling support around them and who will eventually rise from the ashes of their own spiral, with lessons learned and one less vulnerable spot.
So, spiralers, ex-spiralers and all of you who have never spiraled, what alternate way to break out of it would you suggest? What advice do you think could be useful to those going through such an experience? Also, tell us what brings hope and sunshine for you when you’re having a rainy day! We, here at Mischievous Sweethearts, wish you an amazing spring! Make the best of it!