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.

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

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

The Warrior and the Shadow of Death

My Inner Warrior, being stared down by The Knowledge of Death, who often takes the form of a blood-stained hawk.

Today, a challenge was given to me: to accept death. My warrior encountered the side of myself who dwells in the knowledge of death (and all of the most horrible aspects of reality). This made me realize the warrior side of me was still weak, still not looking death in the face.

It turns out that the side of myself who appeared as a hawk with bloodstained wings (who I mentioned briefly here), and the side that keeps death in mind, are one in the same. Needless to say, many other parts of me try to ignore him or avoid him, thinking instead about particular aspects of life that favor what they want in the moment, rather than the whole.

For instance, think about goals. If you have a goal in life, thinking about how death would render that goal meaningless probably isn’t going to help you. It might bring you down, or, even if you do accomplish the goal, thinking about death might leave you with an empty feeling.

And warriors operate on goals: they see a goal, and break through the barriers standing in the way. But what is that warrior fighting for? If they kept death in mind, the impermanence of things, would they make the same choice?

Continue reading

False Modes of Being

The Six False Modes of Being I’ve Identified so far: The Heart of Negativity, Emotional Vampire, Dull Giant, Philosophy Knight, Demanding Critter, and Emotional Cynicism

Today my Self-Doubt was fed up with always having to struggle to get things done. You know the feeling: When you try to do something, but then all these other thoughts come in that make you want to just forget about what you wanted to do, and engage instead, perhaps, in some pleasant distraction.

Well, my Self-Doubt (with the help of my Critic), decided it would be a good idea to try and come to a compromise with these parts of myself who were always getting in his way. Rather than fight with them, he thought he could get them to all come to an agreement about what to do.

As soon as he had decided on this task, a number of forces became evident to me. I began to visualize them, and six made themselves apparent at that time:

  1. One appeared like a hawk, hovering over the rest of the forces. An ominous feeling came from it, and it had blood-stained wings. It was extremely negative, so negative, in fact, that I call it “The Heart of Negativity”, thought I don’t know if that’s accurate. This part of you shuts you down with hopelessness, a lack of faith, joylessness, and negativity.
  2. The next (going off the picture above), was one I’d run into before. This was the “Emotional Vampire” – this guy likes intimidating people, finding pointless but pleasing things to do, and doesn’t care how he accomplishes what he wants to. He puts thoughts in your head that get you to start doubting or defending yourself.
  3. This guy, the “Dull Giant”, appeared first. He is concerned with physical needs, and will easily abandon things that you think are important in favor of things like eating, sleeping, exercising.
  4. The “Philosophy Knight” is always checking his beliefs against what is going on. He seems almost mechanical, just thinking about whatever is true or false without much emotion. This side of you decides on a course of action and just keeps going even when it doesn’t make sense.
  5. The “Demanding Critter” gets impatient, angry, uptight, and creates a huge fuss whenever it’s not doing something it wants to do. And when it is doing something, it often does it for reasons such as: proving a point, winning, getting some cheap feeling of superiority or excitement.
  6. “Emotional Cynicism” is the part of you that frowns at “Free Hugs” videos. He doesn’t give a crap about all that touchy-feely emotional stuff, in fact, he’s downright suspicious of it. Your idealism, your upbeat attitude, all of them just seem misguided to him.

As my self-doubt soon found out, not only do these guys tend to not agree on anything, but when questioned they get very explosive, giving you those kinds of feelings that, when you want to get things done, make you want to give up. After going through this encounter, my self-doubt decided that it wanted to become more powerful, so it didn’t have to just bend to the demands of these guys anymore, but could stand up to them. Let’s see how that goes.

P.S. I call these guys “False Modes of Being” because the way they go about things seems backwards, wrong, and petty. But then again, these sides of me don’t think so. They’re quite pleased with their mode of being.