Dependence and Independence

Today, I’d like to talk about dependence and independence, what each of them is on the emotional level, and how one can become more independent.

Many times, when we talk about independence, it’s in reference to an interest in being able to do what we want to do. For instance, “financial independence” refers to being able to live without working. But for some, this still can mean dependence on financial independence, always living with the tension that one’s current stability might fall through, and fearing it, or otherwise letting that fear drive incessant action to control one’s financial stability, without having peace.

Indeed, the freedom to be where one desires isn’t necessarily freedom at all, since one can still feel dependent upon that desired circumstance remaining. And when one’s desire isn’t there, it can feel as though things aren’t right until it is. What people are talking about here is independence as freedom from circumstance. Yet, it’s still very much dependent upon the circumstance one wishes to escape to, and remain in.

So what is dependence? I posit the following definition:

A state of being that involves “looking to get to” a circumstance, such that one craves it, feels one needs it, feels things are wrong without it, or may fear its absence. It can involve impatience, fixation, imbalance, suffering, emotional pain, fear, panic, and anxiety. It can lead to escapism, negativity, and frustration.

And what about independence?

A state of being that involves openness to all circumstances, whatever the current circumstance happens to be. Involves flow, and a sense of detachment from circumstance and everything outside of one’s control, including direct control. Generally a positive, free, authentic, open state, devoid of shame and very fluid, not holding on to the things that come and go in reality.

Thus you can see the differences between the two. Yet, all too often, we can slip into feelings of dependence, however ideal independence might sound. Continue reading

Social Interaction: Apologist vs Positive Strength

Hi all – this is going to be a post about a pattern I’ve seen in social interaction – mainly the contrast between two different approaches. I’ll just call them “Apologist” and “Positive Strength”.

The General Features of Each

The first, Apologist, is marked by anxiety, fear, and not wanting to “bother” other people. There’s a sense of reduced value here, as if one’s contributions will detract from the other person’s experience, or at least be highly questionable or vulnerable to criticism and rejection. There’s a big sense of risk involved, but it’s seen as necessary in order to even have a chance at positive interaction.

The second, Positive Strength, is more grounded in a sense of one’s own value and personal goodness. You can approach the other person in good will because you know the value and goodness of your own intentions. There’s nothing to hide, and so there’s a sense of openness here, and that includes to however the other person might respond, even if that means rejection or criticism. One is far more likely to be concerned about the state of the other person, too, and wanting what’s best for them. With openness, there’s also more of a heartfelt sense of empathy, as well as acceptance of the other person. Sometimes, there’s a sense of courage and vulnerability here, in that you’re open to such criticism, but for the most part, there’s also a sense of ease – social interaction flows more naturally from this position, rather than operating in starts and stops as little anxious bumps are overcome. You both give and receive openly.

How Value plays a part

Value contributes here because if you don’t value what you’re putting forward, you’re going to feel more like that you’re looking for something to be given to you, without having anything to give of value of your own. Continue reading

Sensing Inner Energy

Inner Energies

Different elements of a given internal environment can have different energies to them, awareness of which can inform you about where you are.

As you begin to explore the inner world, you may notice that different aspects of it are composed of different types or kinds of energy. There is a unique flavor or “signature” to everything you come across, and it’s this energy that can inspire the forms we see inner entities take in our visions of them.

Take for instance a vision of a lush, green, open landscape, on a sunny day. The landscape itself might have an energy to it, representing, if you sense it, feelings of ease, openness, relaxation and an energized mood. As your awareness explores the landscape, you might sense these aspects, and might be able to explore them with greater specificity: the sun might be inner brightness, the grass has a soft comfortable sense to it, the earth below a solid, stalwartness. And maybe over there, a forest with a sense of mystery and relaxed ease, or the sky, full of a spirit of openness and freedom. You might see a bunny hop over to where you are in this picture, and sense its simple curiosity, as it explores, and goes on its way.

The experience of the inner world, then, can be explored in this way – sensing, with simple awareness, the elements of your inner reality, shifting between images and the energy behind them whenever you choose. Continue reading

Silverblade’s Guide to Discerning the Truth

Rebecca Silverblade's Guide to Discerning the Truth

Rebecca Silverblade is another one of my inner characters. She embodies such traits as presence, precision, discernment, and the ability to handle situations without reacting to them. And one thing where precision can serve an important purpose is in discerning the truth from falsehood. This doesn’t just include facts, but also things like the truth of what’s important, the truth of how to act, and the truth of the basis for one’s own emotions and emotional responses. For example, on an inner level, I’ve found that she’s been able to give invaluable perspective at times of confusion or self-doubt.

Like was explained in Creativity’s Guide to Problem-Solving, the below guide was written by way of me trying to let the perspective, embodied by Silverblade, speak on the subject of how to discern the truth. This topic was the prompt, basically, and what follows is my sense of how “she” handled, or would handle, speaking on it.


 

SBGuideT1So you want to discern the truth, do you?

SBGuideT2I suppose you expect me to give you some hint, or proffer some guidance, is that it? This is called a “guide”, after all – I would hardly expect you to expect any less.

SBGuideT3And here it is – the question of the truth. An inquiring mind, looking for it. And what truth are you looking for, pray tell? Continue reading

Overwhelmed by Possibilities: Structure behind Fear

As the possibilities increase for why what's happening actually is, so too do ideas about what will happen as a consequence. Without being able to narrow things down, we can become overwhelmed by trying to handle all possible outcomes

As the possibilities increase for why what’s happening actually is, so too can ideas about what will happen as a consequence. Without being able to narrow things down, we can become overwhelmed by trying to handle all possible outcomes

Sometimes, in trying to prepare for the future, we may find ourselves contending with a large number of possible outcomes. Some of these may be easy to handle, but others might seem like an incredible challenge. And, while we might be up for such challenges, it can be impractical, sometimes, to try and prepare ourselves for all the many outcomes we might feel ourselves anticipating. Reality can end up feeling like it could go many different ways. What, then, do we prepare ourselves to face?

One of the things that can be important to remember in moments of overwhelm, is that there may be many explanations for why things are as they are right now, but that some, or many, of those explanations may be false. After all, say someone is late to a dinner party. It could be that they were late because they don’t like the host. Or, maybe they got caught in traffic. Or, maybe they had an accident. But, without access to more information, the people at the party don’t what’s actually happening, and thus, how best to respond. They could end up thinking its one thing, then recognize the reality of another, then be caught between every imagined possibility, and become frozen, overwhelmed, and unable to act. However, if they knew this – there is always the response of trying to gather more information. And if they had more information, they might be able to handle the situation much more effectively.

The importance of information and learning

One of the important things about information is that it helps us to narrow down the possibilities. Instead of wondering what is actually going on, we then know it, and can respond to it more directly.

Imagine you see a person in distress and you want to help them. Without information as to why they are in distress, how would you know what to do? If you tried too many things, you might do more harm than good. But let’s say you talked to them and they were able to tell you that they were hungry – yes, it might still be a bit of a task for you to help them, but at least you’d be able to form an effective plan for action: to get food. You won’t have to spend time wondering, urgently trying to figure out the situation before something happened to this person, if in fact they were in danger, which is something else you might not know.

The above example also shines some light on how possibilities can lead to anxiety – when a situation is such that it might be urgent, you may find yourself scrambling to either address it or to find out enough so that you know whether or not it is urgent.

That said, here are a few of the ways we can gather information in life and help ourselves narrow the possibilities:

  • testing, trial-and-error, or experimentation
  • continuing our experiences
  • beliefs (more on this later)
  • and, in general, learning

On Beliefs

One of the ways we can reduce our sense of overwhelm in life, and to try and narrow for ourselves the possible explanations for reality and our experience, is to try and hold beliefs. That is to say, we can claim something is true without actually knowing whether or not it’s true – beliefs don’t have to involve learning. In a way, beliefs protect us from feeling overwhelmed – but at the same time, it may limit our openness to learn and to be curious about what the truth behind our experiences actually is. And it may inhibit us from being able to make more informed choices in life.

Sometimes, then, questioning the things we thought were true – our beliefs – can be a distressing process. If what we thought was true might not be, then what else might be true? How might it change our lives? How do we actually figure it out at all? What if we continually fail to figure it out? What if it’s something we can’t necessarily figure out? How do we conduct our lives? What choices do we make? How do we move forward? – These kinds of questions could come up if a belief is questioned, and it may be difficult to deal with the even just the uncertainty of those questions, never mind how difficult it might be to find the answers.

But, over time, through questioning and opening ourselves up to the process of looking for the truth, we may find ourselves not only getting a better understanding of life, but also being able to make better choices, and perhaps solve problems that we may have been stuck on before, because we’re freeing up room in ourselves to look for the truth of how to resolve the problems in our lives. Possibilities, in that sense, can not just be overwhelming, but also empowering, because in exploring the possibilities, we may also find the truth. We can narrow down the possibilities, and reduce our overwhelm without having to lean on beliefs.

Conclusions

Despite trying to find out the possibilities in life, we may never fully eliminate certain ones. The nature of something in our lives may indeed be something we write off at an earlier point, thinking we learned that it wasn’t true. But by testing things against experience and remaining open to the challenge that comes when multiple explanations and possibilities emerge, we can still refine our sense of what is true. And while we may not always be able to say what the truth for sure is in every aspect, we can still gain a better and better sense of what is strongly probable, or of how things seem to be. And this can help us with things like the practical matter of what choices we will make, and to be a little more at ease with that process, and with taking action.

So, that’s all for now ^^ Drawing out this structure helped me gain some understanding of my own overwhelmed feelings, so I thought I’d share. Good luck to any of you who are going through something similar, and just in general, I hope this may be of help to you if at any point you feel overwhelmed or afraid, and would just like to have a better sense of what’s happening and how you might be able to respond to it. That’s not to say that what I wrote is 100% accurate, or that it captures complexities, of this issue, that I may know nothing about right now, but all the same, you can weigh this for yourself, and this perspective may prove to be helpful to consider as you’re finding your way, and feeling things out for yourself.

Take care, and be well,

-Oliver

Related Articles

Fear – The above structure seems integral in terms of what it tells us about how fear operates. We can fear the future possibilities due to our theories and ideas about why things are as they are, and about what they are.

Anxiety – Anxiety also seems illuminated by the above structure, because one can see how one might become anxious when it’s possible that there are urgent situations in the present with us. The more possibilities are open, the more anxious, and then overwhelmed, we might become, as we can seem to be at least potentially threatened from many places at once. And it can be hard to adequately prepare for all eventualities when the possible situations are not only complex, but demanding in terms of how much work it takes to be prepared for them in a way that we find satisfying.

Stress – Stress can also be seen as a form of overwhelm. The solutions in this article may help to inform positive ways of handling overwhelm: by reconnecting with that which is experienced within our in-the-moment awareness, and is at peace with not knowing for sure the reasons for any of it, but just takes note of everything it can.

The Importance of Awareness

Blindfolded man trying to eat an unknown food with the right utensil, has to guess

By increasing our awareness, we can improve the effectiveness of our choices

When do we make one choice vs another? In life, we have lots of choices, and we can learn about a greater variety of choices all the time. But then, what do we choose? We have lots of options – even in typing something, we can type out one word, or another – it’s our choice. So how do we know what choice to make?

Take for a moment this example: you’re blindfolded at a table with knowledge of a fork, spoon, and a bowl of some kind of food in front of you. How would you know whether to use the fork or the spoon? Now, you might try the spoon and run into salad, and find out through experiment what’s there. But the very act of doing so increases your awareness. By increasing your awareness of what kind of food is in front of you, you’re able to know better which choice to make in order to eat the food in front of you in a more optimal way. Knowing it’s salad, you can then choose to use the fork.

So awareness can help in the realm of making choices. The more aware you are of the situation you’re in, the more informed your choices will be. Another way of putting it is that awareness helps establish the context in which you make your choices.

While awareness can be increased through things like gathering information through the senses (such as in the food example), there’s also awareness of one’s feelings, thoughts, emotions, and the situation one is in internally. For instance, inner dilemmas may be felt, but they can also be ignored, or be more slight and go undetected. By looking for feelings of dilemma and trying to become more aware of what that dilemma is all about, you may ultimately learn about the situation you’re in, as well as be able to develop choices that can better respond to that situation. This, to me, seems to speak to the importance of inner awareness for inner well-being. The more aware we are of our inner situation, the more informed our choices can be as we look to positively influence ourselves on that inner level.

This is also one reason why being honest and sharing what you’re aware of can help other people. Sharing your sense of what’s true can help them to make more effective choices for themselves, because they then know more about the context in which they’re making choices. Now, not everyone may handle your sense of “the truth” very well, but there are ways to handle this as well, such as not claiming certainty or authority, being tactful, being gentle, and being respectful.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share that little connection between awareness and choices. It seemed to me like a simple, perhaps obvious, but important distinction. Because of how important choices are, in that they govern how we respond to and can influence reality, consequently this shows how important awareness is. After all, while we can make uninformed choices, how much more effective might we be if we’re able to make informed choices? Thus by becoming more aware, the quality of our choices can become improved. Yes, perhaps one could become obsessive about awareness, but that’s also something one could become aware of, and respond to.

That said, take care, and all the best ^^

-Oliver

Related Articles

Explore Your Inner World – all the techniques described here have to do with both increasing inner awareness and assisting the process of making choices that can affect us on an inner level.

Denial – denial seems to directly have to do with the tendency to try and limit one’s awareness in order to avoid problematic situations or feelings. This can nevertheless cause big problems, because the quality and effectiveness of one’s choices is diminished with denial

Find Yourself: A Quick Self-Discovery Activity – an article going over a fun little technique for meeting a part of yourself. These kinds of inner forces play a part in our lives, even if we’re not aware of them, thus, exercises like this that increase our awareness can help to better inform our choices with respect to such forces

The Connection between Negativity and Depression

NegativeConflict

Negativity towards a conflicting feeling seems like it can keep an inner conflict from getting resolved. Above is an example of two such situations, where negativity shuts down a feeling due to its own priorities, refusing to listen.

Not too long ago, I published an article on the potential connection between inner conflicts and depression. It seems to me, though, that negativity also plays a large role, specifically in suppressing and thus prolonging inner conflicts.

Let’s say that a person is in an inner conflict, where one side of them wants to do one thing, and another side is resisting this direction. If this resistance is ignored, it won’t necessarily go away, but may linger even as choices and decisions are made. Essentially, this practice involves shutting down a side of one’s self that is creating resistance.

But by shutting down any one side of an inner conflict, one may be shutting out whatever those feelings have to say. Even if a feeling ends up being supported by false reasons, that doesn’t mean you can accurately assume that from the start. Until you hear what a feeling has to say, how can you know whether it’s worth listening to or not? Continue reading