Through much of life we are surrounded by chaos, shit happens all the time. One only has to open a paper, read an article online ... watch the news or look for it in your own life. Drama and chaos abound. There are reasons certain patterns continuously repeat, whether for some it's a positive pattern or in others a negative one. It seems to be tied to how one lives their life and deals with the chaos that surrounds us.
I think most people know this, on some level, but choose to ignore it. The negative patterns don't pose any immediate danger, so people tend to just repress it and run away from obstacles, without learning from it and adapting or letting it go.
The problem here is that every time that happens, your anxiety circuit gets a boost because there was a "danger" that you ran from. Plus now you have an excuse to run in the future. People love excuses for avoiding the stuff they should deal with.
They continue to exist, pretending they're happy, while really they're not. They're not realizing their fullest potential and the problem still lies boiling under the surface. By reinforcing their delusions and choosing to dive into chaos, they invite more of it into their lives. The ghosts of the past still swimming around them, lurking and looking for any way to get in.
Then when real tragedy strikes or even something wholesome and good happens, they act out badly because their illusion they've mentally constructed, is shattered. This can cause cognitive dissonance, where a belief doesn't match with reality, and what's been repressed comes flooding back in or we don't believe we deserve the awesome experience we are denying ourselves. And run away, back to swim with the ghosts of the past. Who are always hungry, always lurking and always patiently waiting until the next time your illusion falls.
It makes me sad that so many people choose to live life this way. It is a choice and if that's really the case then the simple answer is: change your mind.
We are never presented with a problem without having the tools or will to be able to face it, learn from it and move past it, on our path through life. Some people don't give themselves enough credit. Nor have we been taught properly what works. We observe our parents, friends and hopefully stumble through and get lucky in life. You can will your way past it, but it takes longer.
Let me preface the next little bit by saying that although I value what I've learned from Jordan Peterson's works, I don't find everything he says to be necessarily true, at least from my perspective. That's a product of living in the world we do with the evolved minds we have. No one person will ever get it 100% right and I think he would agree.
I DON'T consider myself smarter or better in any way, my experiences and understanding has informed me differently is all.
After watching countless hours of his lectures on his you tube channel, I had distilled this out of everything as a basis to start from:
All life is suffering. Accept this truth joyfully. Then clean your damn room.
His book: 12 rules for life, an antidote to chaos, goes into much more detail about this. If your a self starter and on your way to cleaning things up, the rest of this might be all you need to get going.
Chaos is all around you, have your shit in order and much of life's minor chaos is taken care of. Routinize everything you can, cleaning the house, doing laundry, taking care of your personal hygiene, your health, your job and your taxes.
If you have a systematic way of dealing with these things, it's easier to get it all taken care of and right there is the start of self-esteem. I got all this shit done and it was easy. Things becoming more ordered, fills the need of certainty, stability in the mayhem that surrounds us.
Having a nice clean home, fresh sheets on the made bed, cut grass and a nice garden is, that no matter how shitty your day was, it is now a pleasant, ordered space to come back to after the chaos of the day. To Relax, to let all the chaos fall away, have peace and a little certainty.
Don't go overboard on the order either, too much order makes things rigid and inflexible. You'll spend all your time making things ordered, because chaos is everywhere.
If there's only 1 or 2 dishes on the counter, you can walk by, chaos will not consume the kitchen.
The other areas we need to focus on is our own mental health and the state of our being. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Many cases of clinical depression and anxiety have all but disappeared with just this small change. Don't just take my word for it though, go see a professional, I'm not a doctor.
When emotional pain occurs, explore it, find out the truth of it, even if it can only be your own. Ask the best future version of yourself why and see what it answers back in your mind. Don't push it down because you "can't" deal. You can and you will, or you can continue to suffer.
Most of us are pretty intuitive and empathetic creatures, we had to be to be able to understand each other and form societies. We have to learn the truth of the pain in order to let it go and to be able to bring ourselves higher on our path through life. When we repress things, we are creating the illusion and lying to ourselves, inviting the chaos into the pool.
That brings me at last to living meaningfully and happily. After all of the reading, videos, documentaries, from many sources, it is distilled down to this for me:
Aim for the highest point, doing the highest good that you can imagine and head there.
This means being honest with yourself and others. Tell the truth, or at least don't lie. Filling your needs in a balanced and healthy way. Be self-aware, know your flaws and weaknesses so you can plan for obstacles ahead. Find the truth in all your encounters and relationships. Only foster what gets you closer to that peak. Take care of yourself, your family and your community.
When you get there, find another higher peak and head there, you will live a full and happy life. Chaos will not have the effect or hold on you that it will others, because you cleaned your damn room.
How do I know this is all true? Well I don't, it feels like it is though, because I used to live my own life in chaos and have managed, in fits and starts, to turn my life around 180 degrees, to be the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been. Here's the parts of my story that are relevant.
Well starting out, for a good deal of my life, because of much in my childhood, I've been an asshole. Shit just kept flowing downhill, and I was stuck at the bottom. This frustrated and depressed me for a good long time. Made me bitter, cynical and jaded. I was a dick about it.
This mental state, all of the negativity, reinforced certain pathways of neurons and seemingly caused more and more, let's say, shit to happen.
After a pretty nasty separation with my ex, I had met someone within about 6 months. Soon we started dating, even though we were both still married, both marriages were done long before that point and we were separated from our exes.
Still, not moral behavior, not in tune or in flow with what is right and true. I say this because I'm pretty sure our spouses somehow still wanted to try and fix things. Everything was so broken, it couldn't be. It was easy to get lost in each other. I was pretty messed up back then, not realizing what I'd been through in life to that point. All the drama and chaos which that drew into our lives. We both were also messed up from long past histories.
That unresolved past, and really living that lie, lay at the root of our problems and caused the attraction of chaos in each other, from outside as well, and the ultimate breakdown of the relationship.
Fast forward to about a couple years ago now, I'd been learning a great deal about my past in the intervening time, about forgiving, about proper apologies, about boundaries and what mine were, about flaws I had. Without knowing it, I was trying to find the truth in life, in myself.
Then the concepts of truth, of pointing the direction of your life in the highest good you can imagine had been creeping in. At that point in my life I had already watched some of the hundreds of lectures Jordan B Peterson, a University of Toronto Psychology Professor, had on Youtube.
It really came home for me when I watched his breakdown and analysis of Pinocchio. That's when the many pieces really fell into place for me. Then some unexpected events sidetracked me.
It started in late November 2017 that caused extreme anxiety and the darkest depression I've slipped into up until then in my life. There was one really positive event Nov 20th, but that was completely overshadowed by the wall I was soon facing. There were days when I didn't want to get up at all to face the world. I had no energy, no passion and no drive. The abyss that I faced, sucked everything out of my being.
Around beginning of Jan 2018, I got the book 12 rules for life: an antidote to chaos, by Jordan Peterson and started to read.
I started to meditate and get some exercise, things slowly started improving. I tried to find the truth in everything, looking into the past and finding out where certain traits and flaws were coming from. Using the clicker method of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I slowly changed my behaviours, my reactions to things, I thought long and hard about what I was putting out in the world and I was trying to genuinely help other people. I was trying to live the way I thought the universe expected for giving me the gift of being here.
Religious or not doesn't matter, somehow that statement feels right. Sure it's unscientific, but then again science will never be able to tell you how to be, how to live and act in the world.
I had made some really good gains and was starting to see some positives happening in my life by mid March. Then my dad passed away, Mar 25th. I had found him the Sunday morning, cold and lifeless. I had a choice to make, do I carry the rest of the unhealed parts of my childhood with me, or do I let them die with Dad, refusing to carry them anymore. I let it all go, I forgave him. I only regret not getting there while he was alive. I only blame him now for the values and good things he taught me, the good that I've seen him do in his life.
Something must have clicked with the universe there because despite the funeral and the sadness surrounding that, small positive things started to happen. Then suddenly boom, I land a big contract with Elections Ontario doing IT support for the district.
After that, while out on my walks, I started a gratitude exercise, holding something I value in my mind, thanking the universe for allowing me and it to be a part of this complex life and let that energy go. I put it into practice in my interactions with people and watch their faces light up when we talk!
There’s been other events, both negative and positive since all of this. The negative ones now don’t have the impact they once did and because of finding these new ways of dealing with them. Facing them and learning what they have to teach me, builds self-esteem.
I'm in the best place mentally I have ever been in my life. The shadows that were the ghosts of the past, were burned away by the light of truth.