Monday, April 13, 2009

Ups and Downs and the Art of Mental Maintenance

It must be a function of nature. The weight of nature vs nurture has come to my attention lately in other contexts, but it has caused me to wonder where each applies in my own case. I don't think there is a clear delineation as the two often work with synergistic effectiveness for good or ill. In my case, I suppose there has been more ill result than I'd choose. The element of choice based on conscience, logic, and possibly mystical belief can temper the effect of a spirit that follows a sine wave.

Practice and perseverance actually do work when it comes to leveling off yoyo emotions. The trick of recognizing the highs and being careful is probably an advanced level of the art. After periods of being down, a high is always a welcome relief. Neither condition is very useful. I haven't had too much trouble with this stuff for awhile, but it is only because of the habit of constantly curbing the out of bounds thoughts which lead to the blues. Anyone can come up with a thousand things abut himself that are deficient, defective and no good. They are generally not even legitimate, but that doesn't matter. That's where nurture and nature take hold.

One might be somehow wired to flipflop into a depressed state, and if early learning included some kind of shock for minor mistakes or just differing opinion, he will beat "them" to the punch, berating himself and indulging in self loathing.

The real key is to discover that thoughts can be controlled. Many people think they can't but they are wrong. There is a difference in saying "be positive, be cheerful" and stopping when a thought like "you're an idiot and everyone hates you" comes up, then asking where did that come from. For one thing, you don't even know everyone, so that is obviously an unproven statement. The internal dialog that uses words like always, should, never, worthless, etc. can be inspected under a lens of cold logic. It is pretty rare that one always screws everything up, always says the wrong thing or never does anything right. The chemicals released by full blown funk become somewhat addictive even though they are no fun. That's why the mind resists shooting down the things that fuel the blues.

That was one of the most astonishing things I ever learned; that the mind will actually play tricks on otherwise intelligent people. It still amazes me, and I think it is a thing that takes a long time to learn to combat. Why the mind would try to defeat itself is a complicated proposition but it does. The why is less important than taking the power away from things which don't enhance enjoyment and meaning in life. So much is up to how a thing is viewed. One person is thrilled to have a meal, while another is bummed because the meal is not better.

OK. That's my pep talk to myself for now. Speaking of meals, I got to bring home a bunch of Easter leftovers so I not only have a meal, but I have as good a meal as I could ever want. No problemo there.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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