Diving back in…
Page 161. He talks about stacking victorious days – which is something I’ve felt – but he says and no one can take that away from me which hit me in the feels. Because, yes, yes they can.
Just to use a super light example: Remember when Mr. Burns is staying with the Simpsons so Marge can paint his portrait? Homer, struggling to lose weight, is happy with himself for having lost some weight and Marge, ever the supportive partner, cheers him on for his modest accomplishment. Then Mr. Burns is so gleefully cynical and demeaning that Homer is ashamed to have been happy and goes to cry in the fridge.
People can easily, sometimes without trying or knowing it, take away your pride, your accomplishments, your sense of self, and I don’t know for certain how to inoculate against it. Most people do it by telling themselves a story about their bully where it has nothing to do with them, the victim. The bully is just a hater, they’re jealous, they’re cruel, they had a bad childhood. We make them into an unreliable narrator so that what they says something about them not about us.
Which is fine. If it works, it works.
Page 165. Still in the Self-Respect chapter, he talks about the phrase everything happens for a reason and how, like me, he hates it. It discounts the strength we had to come through whatever tribulations we’re talking about.
I think it’s a case of protagonist thinking. In a story, written by an omniscient author, a character does go through trials for a reason and to become something greater. In life however comforting that thought maybe, it’s not true. The chaos of life makes us stronger – if it makes us stronger – because we authored that strength. Life is happening in real time and you’re brain is wired to see you as the good guy, the learner of lessons, and to get to a new normal no matter what.
Don’t be passive and let things”happen” for “a reason”. Steer The Ship.
Final dog ear page 175. Only Hurt People Hurt Other, it’s the header of the sub-chapter. And he talks about how we can’t forgive because we want to win.
I’ve been there, I am there. Staying angry feels like not accepting defeat, like maybe you can come out on top against the people who hurt you, eventually.
It’s why forgiveness, acceptance, and letting it go (do we have a single word for that?), are 3 shades of the same thing but each unique. I can let things go – when the effort of staying actively mad is more than any possible pay off to the situation. Because in the past I’ve painted myself into a corner by having to stay officially angry. I’ve accepted people – I had a friend who was difficult, impossible even, to work with but he has a mental illness and I thought consciously that it’s always up to me to make room for him to be him. Because while his brain is trying to help him just like everyone’s is, it’s helping in a dysfunctional way and if I, on the outside, can see that then it’s my responsibility or at least my capability to help. Then I thought if I can do that for him it’s only fair that I do it for neurotypical people as well.
So that’s how I learned to accept people. Forgiveness though… I think the closest of come to forgiveness is the opposite of what I said about story-telling to oneself about bullies. The closest I’ve come to forgiving someone is to tell myself a story where their trespass wasn’t really against me, wasn’t really malicious. But I think that’s still more a case of letting it go rather than forgiveness.
On the topic of only hurt people hurt people there’s a phrase I’ve been dying to break down. We all know, and we all should cringe at, the phrase you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. Expressing self-love is hard for decent people and those who are quite comfortable with it are unbearable assholes.
But I think it’s important to remember that if you can’t stop hurting yourself you will hurt others, including the people you care about.
Overall this is a good book and I’ve put it’s ideas into practice, like asking oneself questions rather than stating goals as a means to ensure progress. Do something to show my girlfriend I love her is easy to write down and intend to do but what did I do today to show my girlfriend I love her makes you examine your actions on a daily basis and deal with the days that you just forgot or felt too busy. Because if you call something a priority and then get too busy – it wasn’t your priority.