Believe in nothing, no matter who says it, even if I say it, if it does not agree with your own experience and your own common sense ~ Buddha

I have discovered, and verified through the journalistic rule of three sources, that people react badly not only to “being taught,” but to learning.

I was writing copy for my wellness practice and I ran the following past my marketing guru. “I do not think of myself as a healer, but more as a teacher and guide who uses BodyTalk as her primary tool.” And she cautioned me against using the word “teacher.” Apparently, this has a tendency to trigger issues around inferiority and problems with authority.

Another friend shared the trigger that she has around the word “lesson.” As in I hope you’ve learned your lesson, young lady!

This is very, very, interesting to me. I had problems of my own in school. Me and my three siblings were often picked on. In my case, I was shunned, because I was lippy and articulate enough to turn the teasing back on my attackers. I had a habit of correcting my teachers— oh that was fun!  (Dear Noel, I never corrected them unless they were actually wrong. My math teacher kicked me out of class for correcting his math problem on the board. ) I hated a lot of things about school. But I never hated school.

The idea that there was a place where you went every day to do nothing but learn. Wow. What could be better? Ok, so the reality didn’t quite live up to the dream, but there was always university, was there not?

Learning, growing, changing, has always been so exciting for me. It’s hard for me not to see that as a default setting. (I think it is, actually, it just gets trained out of most people)

So, the updated version of “Getting Great Mileage out of Shitty Experiences”

You had the experience. You’re not going to be able to change that. You also don’t have to believe that God or the Universe sent you that experience to teach you a lesson, because that’s a fairly self-flagellating outlook to have on life, not to mention the fact that it makes it easy to blame people’s problems on themselves.

What you can do, however, is to use the enormous pattern-seeking abilities of your brain, and pick a lesson, any lesson  from your shitty experience. That gives it purpose. That gives it meaning. That makes it useful.

This may seem cynical, a sort of Pollyanna spin on a tragic situation, but I assure you, you’re already putting your own spin on the situation. Every time a memory of [whatever] comes up, you’re already thinking “Not this again. I thought I dealt with this. Can’t I get rid of it? Can’t I do anything? I’m useless, stupid, broken, etc.

Yes, I am saying you get to pick your truth. Truth is a pretty funny thing; it’s not nearly as easy to nail down as people seem to think. So you can say, Here I am, I was born to suffer, or you can say, it is pretty damn awesome to be me.

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Comments on: "Getting Great Mileage out of Shitty Experiences — Part Two" (7)

  1. Yes, I am saying you get to pick your truth. Truth is a pretty funny thing; it’s not nearly as easy to nail down as people seem to think.

    I agree with the sentiment, but I’m going to be a stickler here and say that I prefer the term “useful fictions”. Fiction as in myth as in the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of experience. I still want the term “truth” to refer to something, even if only in theory, that’s distinct from our biased, limited perspective.

    I laughed, too — for someone who told me way back when that she found Nietzsche “cynical, embittered and far too negative”, I’m not sure if you’re aware of how thoroughly Nietzschean a viewpoint you’re expressing here. 😉

    • I’m alright with the phrase useful fiction. In this context they are synonymous.

      Truth is one of those words that has been misused so long that people are unaware that it actually means something singular; like perfect, or unique.

      Ok, I’ll give up my misguided views of Nietzsche and allow my self to be reformed. What book do you recommend I start with?

      • Stick with me, kid. I’ll learn ya everything you need to know. Or maybe I’ll just end up quoting his entire oeuvre eventually.

        Anyway, to elaborate, what I meant was that for him, knowledge was meant to be in service to life rather than the other way around. Knowledge that didn’t enhance or invigorate life was nihilistic. Sitting around contemplating your navel for the sake of abstract knowledge that led you to shrug your shoulders and say all is vanity, what’s the use of living, etc. was unhealthy and should be avoided. Truth for its own sake was a bizarre thing to worship and might even be indicative of a lack of creativity — a truly creative individual wants to be master (or mistress) of their own destiny, but those kind of capital-T-truth-seekers were just looking to set another idol up on a pedestal and bow down in worship.

        This had a lot to do with his attacks on Christianity, of course, as a decadent religion that had made virtues of the worst impulses and thoughts of humanity while denigrating the healthy ones. Buddhism to him wasn’t anywhere near as bad, but it was still based on an exhausted resignation rather than vital energy. And it was why he had a love/hate relationship with Socrates, for his attempt to make reason a “tyrant”, to give life an entirely rational foundation (an impossible task in any event), which instilled a sort of neurotic self-consciousness that inhibited creative, unfettered action.

  2. I agree that logic is a pretty poor rationale for basing your actions on. Be aware of why you’re doing things, yes, but don’t make a false idol of reason. But I guess one thing Socrates didn’t have going for him is all the fine science fiction characters like Data of TNG who find even articulate, conscientious, well-adjusted people to be utterly incomprehensible, and yet still worthy of emulation. 😉

    “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows naught”

    • Or, as anyone who has spent time around a toddler knows, there comes a time when “Why?” is just a meaningless question. Because shut up, that’s why! It just is!

  3. Here’s another “Why I love Archives” moment ~
    I oughta be the poster child for “Don’t overthink it, my dear!”! 🙂

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