I recently read an article, by Sweet Bliss, that I wanted to respond to immediately, yet couldn’t because the topic was very gesault:
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT: TOXIC SPIRITUALITY & MENTAL HEALTH
My responce after a few weeks of digesting the ariticle, while reflecting on “The Most Human Human,” “The Confifence Gap,” and all my life experience became a post in and of itself:
I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who thinks it damaging to blame victims for things that they had no control over.
It’s a very complicated topic that can become confusing easily. I used Byron Katie’s method of “do the work” and it was helpful and I never could quite bye into it though. One helpful part of it is phycological ownership of your own reaction (proactivity). Like if someone shouts something rude at you, you don’t have to be bothered, you can sometimes realize it’s not about you.
One unhelpful part of the secret mentality is saying that crimes/accidents ext have something to do with you, that you attracted it. Would you really blame anyone for being raped, or born addicted to heroin, or getting beaten by a spouse ext? I wouldn’t. Bill Burr did a funny show about possible reasons to beat women, yet in his extreme restraint of doing so, he actually proved the point about it being a choice. Noticing bad thoughts (ANTS automatic negative thoughts) and using ACT (accept, choose, take action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI) to defuse your identity from them is really good and healthy for the brain in a way MRI scans can measure (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esPRsT-lmw8).
The steps of “do the work” are 1. Go over the situation in your mind, notice your feelings. 2. Write about how you feel using a feelings list (https://thework.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Emotions_List_Ltr.pdf) into a worksheet (https://thework.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/jyn_en_mod_6feb2019_r4_form1.pdf). 3. Question your beliefs about what happened with 1. Is it true? 2. Sure? 3. What is your pattern of reaction to that thought? 4. Who would you be without that thought?
Step 1 and 2 are really helpful, noticing your own mind builds awareness and it’s the same as ACT or mindfulness meditation to notice your own feelings. Yet I find that not allowing myself to go through a grieving or radical acceptance period is unhelpful and doesn’t really work for me. Sometimes I overreact and project my damage onto a situation that is when “do the work” is helpful. Sometimes I am legitimately wounded by life and need to honestly grieve and not try to turn aside from my emotions as if I was a robot and not a human. As a human being, emotions are part of the beauty and experience of being human, if I cast them off to be productive or cheerful I would be cutting out part of myself and also I would be discarding one of my two thinking systems (feeling is a primitive, yet helpful, way of thinking). So, if you add a grieving step into “do the work” then it’s not a bad system.
LATTE is a way of validating feelings, listen to what happened, acknowledge feelings, thank for bring it up, take action to fix the situation, explain why it happened. Very often when someone is hurt it is scary and people don’t want to give you room to LAT (listen, acknowledge, thank) before they either fix or explain and it doesn’t help, it stalls the healing or bypasses the learning process. I feel like “do the work” does listen and acknowledge and that is why it is super helpful, yet it doesn’t give me enough space to grieve before asking me to thank and explain and then it doesn’t encourage action.
Einstein said something similar to “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it,” and Marcus Aurelius said “Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed, and you haven’t been.” (https://highexistence.com/22-stoic-truth-bombs-marcus-aurelius-will-make-unfuckwithable/). There is a place for overcoming things mentally and with thought (especially misunderstandings of reality or mental things), yet I cut my foot at the beach yesterday and if I hadn’t treated that wound I would be dead already… (really). But what I mean is that like kid’s who hurt themselves very easily with tags, small bumps, get scrapes falling down, unwanted brushes against other kids… yet really hurt themselves too, break bones, get big cuts, get concussions, we suffer emotional wounds that aren’t served by trying to brush off without healing.
Emotional pain may have messages of learning life lessons or at least can be used that way if we just say “I don’t want to feel that way so I’ll accept that I could be wrong and invalidate what I thought was right to feel happy,” we could stay in a bad situation longer, we could stay in a bad situation for the rest of our lives, we could stay stuck in grieving, we could choose temporary happiness over our deep values and morals, and we could turn a cold shoulder to our loved ones reaching out to us for comfort, instead wondering why they don’t just invalidate their own suffering immediately to make life more pleasant for us and themselves by always choosing cheerfulness over truth. Those are the dangers of “do the work” as it is. So actually it’s question 2 I have a problem with because once you find your truth in question 1 it asks you to invalidate it because you can’t “be absolutely sure.” The system works for me if instead, I wonder if I’m pretty sure in question 2. Yes I could be wrong about everything and anything and I know that, but without making some assumptions I can’t carry out normal thinking enough to live an interesting and rewarding life. Also at the end, you are asked to “turn around” your feelings, I think it’s very invalidating to do that. It’s great to be open-minded and try to “turn around” your thoughts just as an exercise, but turning around your feelings to be happy is like making killing Jewish people a fun game to have a fun day at work as a WW2 soldier of Germany instead of knowing you are in a horrible situation, grieving inside and doing what you can to live with virtue within a broken system.
I used “do the work” for many years before judging it, one thing great about it is that it expands your emotional granularity. There is an amazing book “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” by Lisa Feldman Barett, which discusses many really cool things such as how expanding granularity helps you have better control over your emotions (not to repress them but to live with them in a healthy, balanced way). The feelings list from Byron Katie is a great tool, worth printing out and posting somewhere, so when you feel down you can pass by it and find how you feel and validate your feeling that way.
Feeling like it’s fine to feel however you feel is the quickest way to get through the feeling Russ Harris explains how to use ACT to do that (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI), Rumi explains how to use radical acceptance to do that (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIhFEvuL24o), Hawaiians have used Ho’oponopono to do that (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMxXWnR-nVc).
The four tendencies of humanity are upholder, questioner, obliger, and rebel, it’s possible that I’m reacting from an upholder perspective because I’m an upholder. Perhaps Byron Kaite is a questioner and it’s possible that she never intended to omit the grieving from her system because she thought it was already automatic for everyone. I really recommend the four tendencies quiz: https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/four-tendencies-quiz/ and book because it makes it easier to understand that the processes that are healthy for one person are non-functional or disfunction for another.
I’m really glad you brought up how negative “the secret” kind of mentality is when you actually use it, blogger and author Mark Manson also talks about that, as far as I know, it’s him, you and I who think that way and a multitude of supporters of a system that makes people think winning the lottery is something they can mentally attune to… the secret does go on in books to say after you set your intention you have to take steps towards it, but the movie I was shown in school did not. I don’t know if the system as intended is valid or not, but I know the way people use it is to have wishful thinking substitute taking action to improve their situation. Which is sad, because it wastes time and time is all any of us have, time is what life is made of. Bruce Lee said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made of.”
So thank you so much (to Sweet Bliss), for the post, and speaking out against a possible trap that can waste a lot of time for very good people trying to do their best to find out how to live a good life and learn to live with their human emotions. It took a long time to respond for me because I wanted to explain why I experienced growth with the “do the work” system, gratitude towards Byron Katie for helping so many people with tools that are very helpful in some ways and some situations, respect my sister-in-laws use of the secret techniques for intention setting as described by the books, warn about the common way the secret movies mislead people to thinking wishing is the same as action steps and give resources to provide alternate paths to the solutions that people would look for using “do the work” and “the secret” methods. My advice is that the real secret is accepting yourself as you are, not thinking everything bad that happens is personal and walking hand and hand with fear towards what you want in life while going through failure, again and again, knowing it is hard, it is painful, it is normal, it is human. That’s what I believe, that there is no substitute or trick around feeling the pains that enter your heart, even though if you can choose to not be hurt in the first place via humility or stoicism it saves time and energy. 🌻
My other secret is doing laundry first thing when I wake up. I just start it. Not everyone has enough laundry that they need to do that, but since I don’t use paper towels, dispossable diapers or paper napkins I need to wash daily. Starting at dawn lets me do two loads if I want to bleach the kitchen towels without putting bleach on the clothes the baby wears. I do diapers and my clothes together with soap (Molly’s suds) and then the dog pads and kitchen towels with soap and bleach. It really helps me. I keep dishes and laundry under control and all the other cleaning whenever I feel like it, that way I can keep the house running without putting my kids care or enrichment behind keeping the house clean. I keep a medium clean house, but my first priority is the kids, even though they wait for dishes and laundry, because that is part of caring for them as well as keeping a clean house. I can’t do my job as a parent if my tools, dishes for meal, clothes for living, are not in place, that’s not going to come out of my sleep or break time. Also not having long hair or make up gives me time to stay in shape, which helps my health and mental health and keeps me equally good looking to the long hair or make up, it works for me, not trying to push it on anyone. Also not cooking or shopping much gives me a lot of the time I use for goal setting, introspecting my behavior, and taking the kids to enrichment opportunities, again not trying to push it, but trying to explain opportunity cost. It seems everyone is overwhelmed these days, to make enough time, space and energy to do something good you have to take something else off your plate, it’s different for everyone what they want to keep or let go, but it’s the same for everyone that we can’t do everything, many good things are available now with technology especially and we have to stop, think and choose what we will give our time to now, because it’s impossible to do everything in a given day. 🕊️