What is it that we are after? Ultimately, the deeper answer might include love, meaning or community. These are large goals though and often in progress. What are we to do when our cup is not yet filled? We crave. Why? To feel better. We may crave stimulation and find our way into gaming or porn. We might gamble or eat too much. We can buy something or find a new drug.
Let’s break it down. Feeling empty we enter a porn site. We gaze at images and feel stimulated. We forget our troubles. Over time we substitute this for authentic connection, deplete our energy, and if so inclined, feel guilty. Now we carry the weight of shame, have trouble becoming aroused by real interaction and feeling even lower, we self-sooth through repetition and become addicted.
In a state of gloom we go into town to buy a new pair of shoes. As we complete the purchase we feel a sense of euphoria, “I am going to look great in these.” Over time, operating from the notion of “I deserve this”, we become financially out of balance and, once again, self-sooth through repetition.
Each of us selects our set of patterns and rational as we join the mainstream: depleted, addicted and of low self-esteem. Don’t get me wrong. We are at choice to create our own morality and set of ethics. This creation is an aspect of maturity and is an individual journey. I am suggesting we explore our patterns and courageously assess which of these deplete, addict or shame us. When we find a sequence leading us in the wrong direction we may let go and say goodbye to a weight we no longer choose to carry.
So easy? No, so difficult. Our bodies are built to become addicted. Our minds operate, for the sake of survival, to optimize pleasure and reduce pain. The problem is our potential loss of energy, distancing us from what is truly satisfying and reducing self-esteem. Of course these all lead us back into the pattern. Possibly, if we are truly devoted to self improvement, we build a debt. A debt of failure and a promise to do better.
Once, when I was trying to stay away from alcohol, meat and coffee I created a habit of tracking my “success." It went like this: tomorrow I will be good so today I will feast. Then the discipline, for a time. Eventually the failure often brought about through a disappointment in my life. Now judgement, and repeat.
There is no standard of perfection. No correct way of being. No ultimate path to enlightenment. There is just a culture of depletion and survival. Loneliness and insecurity. It is easier to tackle the small things than the big and tell ourselves we gain extra points for good behavior. No one is keeping score. Only us. Everyone else is too busy with their own dilemmas to pay much attention to ours. Occasionally a partner, parent or child is close enough (vulnerable enough) to pay attention but that is because we have become part of their story. Their story of fear and scarcity.
Every moment is a new score card. Every moment is a new chance. There is nothing to be redeemed from. Ultimately, there is no debt at all. In this model we must not keep score or even ask ourselves of our progress. No contrasts, just awareness. As we climb out of our cavern we begin to feel our energy rising and our hope increasing. We feel better, and quite naturally, begin to assist others. Eventually there is but a small minority engaged in this struggle and plenty of people around to assist.
Is this world we live in? No. Change often happens one person at a time so why not let it be you. Light the beacon and pass it forward into an emerging new culture.