To write is to have a third eye on the world. You watch the world spin day after day, and in your mind, you write social commentary to give it a place in your life. Quite often, though, after reading your perceptions a few weeks later, you realise that what you witnessed has completely lost its meaning.
Like this, I have seen the best and the worst of what mankind had to offer the past six months.
There are people in today’s society who have the purest and most thoughtful minds you can wish for. They add serenity and integrity to your life, and they always bring out the best in you.
On the other hand, there are toxic people who have never learned what altruism and dignity is, and who lack insight into what makes people – including themselves – tick. They go on the attack without working out a game plan first and have a habit of calling you “oversensitive” or “you are just misinterpreting me” when you try to verbally counter their attack.
In layman’s English: toxic people aggressively use people and situations to their advantage. When this is eventually pointed out to them, they use archaic excuses like, “Well, I am like this because of my past.”
Hearing the “because-of-my-past” excuse, I switch off because I literally don’t have the energy to listen to invented reasons not to have an amazing future. It says a whole lot about one’s character because it shows an unwillingness to accept a part in needing to move on, as blame continues to be placed on an external source instead of an internal problem.
Using excuses. or rationalization is a Level 3 neurotic defence mechanism. The issue, however, is that you can only use the past as a valid reason once. After this, you are responsible for how you turn that past into a tool to fix today’s behaviour.
The saddest thing of all, the last six months have taught me that part of the collective mind of our world followed suit, with Vladimir Putin, Kim Yong-Un and Donald Trump’s sickening behaviour and election results as some of the most prominent examples.
It’s fair to say so that quite frankly, such behaviour makes me sick to my stomach. Aside from the people in my inner circle who would have to start World War III before I would get upset, it has been hard work not to set others straight as soon as they started pushing my buttons.
In short, like French existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Hell is other people.”
I still hear my dad tell me on numerous occasions while I was growing up and into early adulthood, “Don’t be so kind all the time, people will abuse that trust because not everyone who smiles at you is, or will be your friend.” Or, “For every fifty people you meet, perhaps only or two will become a trusted person in your life.”
How right he was on both accounts.
After two awful relationships, being diagnosed and losing my brother and my dad, the rules of happiness and trust needed to be rewritten fast before I started to lose friends or family members because of the negativity that surrounded me.
As a lover of Charles Darwin, I always keep this quote in mind, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most responsive to change.”
Of course, we all have our own ways of dealing with awful situations. Some start drinking or using drugs excessively, or they get a gun and shoot their brain out or decide to wallow in self-pity.
Others just say, “This is it. I need help!”
Whatever your negative thinking tells you right this minute, science and the best minds in psychology agree that being happy and having mental strength are skills that you can learn, and if not, that there are other ways of going about it.
Of course, it takes time, effort and guts to keep going because people tend to focus more on the negative after a string of bad experiences. Creating new memories and new positive reactions to those memories can only be done by consciously focusing on the positives (as well as the negatives) in your world.
The best lesson I ever taught myself was that “What you think, you become.” I refused to let being unhappy define me or let it shape my mindset for the rest of my life. In gaining happiness and trust again, I also learned to anticipate the outcome of whatever I decided in life. After all, happiness, hope and trust are 100% up to you, and you alone.
I knew that in weakness, I found strength.
In finding strength, I found happiness.
Twelve years after my MS diagnosis, ten years after losing my only sibling, eight years after losing my dad and almost passing away myself because of a hospital-acquired superbug, I remain aware of how I could redefine myself instead of using my past as a cheap, denigrating excuse.
In redefining myself I also gave myself permission to be that crackpot doofus again who accidentally brushed her teeth with Cif or who, to this day, still is Little Miss Alternative who mixes up almost everything and who views life in slapstick imagery. The added value of having that attitude: those around me are not in any way annoyed or upset in walking through life with me.
There is humour to be found in anything. There is freedom in allowing myself to be that crackpot. Watching grass grow, can be exciting and screw-ups can be beautiful. The day you stop using excuses as a way to move forward, will be one of the best days of your life because good habits are as addictive as bad ones, the good ones are so much more rewarding.
Let’s be frank, so, hell can be other people, but I’d rather turn it into bliss.
©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.