Contains content you might find distressing
An extract from “Diary of a Survivor”, by Josh Graham
What we think, we feel. Our psychological story is our emotional feel. We think, and it triggers our associations in our memory, it triggers our biology, our being, and thus we feel what we think, due to our conditioning and bias. Although, we are only aware of a fraction of our thoughts. So, part of the job is increasing self-awareness so that we are more aware of the deeper thoughts and dynamics. To think clearly, is to feel clearly, which is to be real and to be an individual.
As I have been struggling with emotions/feelings, last night I decided that today I would write a list of all the emotions that I feel and why. I followed a picture I found on google called ‘the emotional guidance scale’. It was a difficult process. I listed every single thing I could think of relating to the list of emotions, being as raw as I could be, to really connect. I took several breaks, as at times I became overwhelmed. If you feel ready, I recommend doing something like this too.
It seems that my goal here is to identify the projections and introjections, the ideas and concepts that I have about myself based upon my past experiences and understanding why I project my past experiences into the present and future situations. Once identified, I can begin to understand them, how they were formed and maintained, and then shift their direction, let them go by contradicting their beliefs through exposure therapy, and by adapting myself so that the risk potential is reduced as much as possible. Then, I am to create a meaning from my painful experiences by using the negative as motives to become a more skilful and competent person, turning them into a positive.
06/09/2022 – I recently woke up, and surprisingly, I don’t feel the same intensity of the lingering emotions as I usually do. I did still struggle to sleep, though. I went to sleep feeling the emotions on me and felt too stimulated, likely because I had brought attention to every emotion I felt. Perhaps when I did fall asleep, because I opened myself up more, accepting my emotions and feeling them, as opposed to not giving them attention, my body was able to release some of the pent-up emotions during my sleep, hence why I woke up feeling a bit lighter. I cannot remember any of my dreams from last night.
I still feel the self-defeating pattern within me, it’s as if it wants me to prevent myself from expressing. It is the pattern which causes bodily twitches, I think. This makes me feel hopeless, irritable. It makes me feel worthless, makes me feel grief, depressed, victimised, to blame, it makes me feel discouraged, disappointment in my father, frustrated, and stressed. So, this pattern fuels much of the negative emotions which I feel.
We grow from our pains to avoid the same pains we experienced. We become disidentified with the identity that we were when we were traumatised, by becoming something that can prevent that same thing from happening again. For example, we may get beaten up as a child, then, we become physically capable whether that be in fighting abilities, size, or strength, then, psychologically, we are distanced from that painful experience and identity and the scenario is more unlikely to happen again. But, if we have not properly expressed and felt the pain which may have overwhelmed us as a child, we have doubled up our repression in our defences. Because we are now identified as a fighter, and this fighter refuses to accept that he is a non-fighter (the child identity). The repressed emotions are in the not-fighter identity. Therefore, we must drop the fighter, and become the non-fighter, just as we were when we were traumatised, in order to properly feel our pain and sit with it, accept it, and grow with it. We must properly access it and process it, so that we can finally let go of that experience, as it is that experience that gives the drive to the fighter identity. We need to become vulnerable again, we need to drop our act, now that we are adults, now that we can hold our past experiences in our capacity with the empathy and acceptance that is needed to heal.
It is likely that our drive to be a fighter is not as powerful once we resolve the wounds which gave us the desire to be a fighter. It is likely that our drive to resist and push away our experiences and those associations are also not as powerful, too. We will be less rigid. That is not to say that the drive and creativity is lost. It is to say, that the emotional charge behind that act is transmuted. It is no longer a built-up dam, it is a flowing river, which, contrastingly, will be more creative and more fruitful.
The previous drive may have been neurotic, resentful, fearful, and rejecting, but now, this new drive will be grounded, loving, and accepting. You will not lose your creative abilities. You will find them in the new ebbs and flows in which life provides for you. It is likely to be the next big step in your creative journey. It is likely the step in which many are seeking, but seldom take.
07/09/2022 — I was shopping, and I became aware of my tendency to look at people judgingly. Comparing their genetics to mine. I do think I use this as an coping response, as it makes me feel better about my life and my suffering, because I am moderately attractive. If I were to live in an area where I would not be considered attractive, then this pattern would turn self-defeating. I would likely change the direction of the pattern in place of something else more rewarding. It is self-obsession and glorification. This pattern, of holding myself higher than other people for personal gain is not true happiness, it is not skilful. Many people have this comparative pattern of self-grandiosity, rooted in competitiveness and fear. Our society breeds it. You will likely use it in something in which you are better at than others. It is everywhere, in knowledge, education, sports, in being a parent, in clothes or fashion, possessions such as cars and hobbies, in singing, in art, in music. It is deeply engrained into our society. The strive for perfection, the strive to be the best in a group, or a better version of ourselves. It is as if we just cannot accept ourselves as we are, we are never good enough. Why is this? Better science, better technology. It is so deeply engrained within us, that most are likely oblivious to it. Perhaps this is the first time you have realised such a pattern exists within yourself? It is the source of much creativity and perseverance. The deeper and older the pattern, the harder it is to observe. This pattern, however, can become an us vs them dynamic, or an us vs ourselves. It can create a hierarchical and competitive society, prejudice, bias and stigma to name a few. We have everything fast, as we race to the top. Fast food, fast relationships, fast cars, and fast answers. We are racing, we want to be the first, we want to be the best, in an environment with so much information and so many people. We are rushed, but we are just rushing to the grave, without enjoying the slowness of life, which is where life really is. Life is always right here, right now. That’s the only place it can ever be. It is never behind us, and never in front of us, because they are just ideas. The roots of this behaviour could even be linked to the very first behaviour ever, the behaviour which split the first cell or caused the expansion or creation of our universe itself. It can be seen in everything. The creation of ‘them’, because the ‘us’ broke into two. Perhaps I am projecting and speaking from my shadow. That is likely the case.
I am starting to think and believe that self-acceptance and honouring all aspects is the best way to heal. We just have to accept ourselves, forgive ourselves, and extend this behaviour onto others if possible. By accepting them and forgiving them (they just have to be honest), we can heal the social aspect of the ego, the outer part of the ego. The ego is not an individual, it functions as a co-individual, it depends upon others to exist, to create its own image, to reflect its desired values and to create its dynamics of self. This reliance on others for its own form is reflected internally too, by the reliance on inner sub-personalities to form its inner cohesion.
I notice how often my breathing is forced. As if I actively have to push it in and out all the time, and when I don’t, it seems to stop, so I struggle to breathe naturally and in flow. I have felt this for a very long time. I remember as a child mentioning this to my mother. At night’s she would tell me off for breathing heavily, but I couldn’t help it, so I tried to breathe quietly for her, perhaps this is at the roots of the behaviour, along with my traumas. The breath is a life force which we have direct interaction with, the way I breathe reflects the way I live. I live very forced and controlled, just like my breathing. I seek to change this though.
I really have been living neglectfully to myself by not accepting myself, in most areas. This causes great difficulties and tensions. My patterns are self-abusing. I am forever focusing on my ideal self, instead of being my actual self. Which brings me to another point I want to make. Even when riding my pushbike, I notice that I have a pre-set tension. It feels unnatural to bike, to walk, just to be in my own body feels unnatural. I can feel it as I type this, as well as my lower eyelid twitching, which is also very common. I have definitely improved though, and the intensity has reduced. To improve on this, I need to become more accepting and maintain consistency with my practices, and in time I will find deeper relaxation in my body. I will begin to associate my body as a safe place where I can let go. Telling myself I NEED TO, can also become a contradiction here. But I feel that I actively need to readapt myself. Like swimming against a current, until my feet can touch the floor, then I can then relax.
The negative gives appreciation of the positive. Hunger makes your food taste better. Death gives appreciation of life. Otherwise, it would all be meaningless. Suffering brings appreciation and meaning to pleasure. If we only had pleasure, then we would become accustomed to it, and it would cease to be ‘pleasure’ as we know it. You need the discomfort to appreciate the comfort. It is the limitations which make the game fun, there is no value in infinity. Value stems from limitation of perception.
My current main desires, or goals in life are to focus on studying, yoga, powerlifting, meditations, building up my social skills, developing my weaknesses, and becoming a competent and capable human being, so that when I finish my degree, I can decide if I feel I am the type of person who can help those suffering and to pursue the career of being a therapist. I have a desire to do good for my son also, and to be good for him. I don’t know how to be good for him, but I guess being there for him and supporting whatever decisions he makes, and giving him my honesty and authentic self while working on my healing so I don’t pass my shadows onto him.