0277 – adulthood is about learning to parent yourself

Well that last post was kind of messy and tried to say a whole bunch of things all at once, which I thought was a bit of a backward step. Maybe I’ll try again. I’ve been thinking lately about how I don’t feel as happy or fulfilled as I’d like to feel. I don’t seem to be putting in the work and effort that I think I feel I ought to be putting in. My present feels messy– first of all there are probably too many moving parts, and worse, many of the connections now seem suspect.
I’m not sure if starting from scratch is necessarily the best way to do things, though I will attempt to do it as part of my way of dealing with this whole situation.
Okay, let’s do that then. Basically, I’ve come to the realization that most of what I think I know about most things is suspect and full of crap. Everything is coated in a thick layer of narrativistic bullshit and I really can’t trust myself with almost anything I say about almost anything I think about. This is so pervasive that it does make sense at long last to discard everything and ask myself what I know for sure. (The act of starting over is something my boss told me he did– but I never really understood before what motivated him to do it, what got him around to doing it. I’m not sure if I understand any better, but I’m starting to have my own reasons for attempting this for myself.)
So. What do I know for sure? Yeah, everything is made up of relationships between things– there are causes and effects. And the human is basically a network of neurons that desires pleasure. Everything we do is in some way to feel good by releasing chemicals in the brain. That’s why we smoke cigarettes, why we post things on Instagram that get likes, why we argue on the internet, why we do science, etc. Some things are good in a sustainable (over a lifespan) way, some things feel good in the short run but are damaging in the long run (over a lifespan). Ultimately everyone dies, so this experience of reality is finite.
Sure, all of those things make sense but what… do I want? Who am I? I am a bundle of neurons, a pattern in space-time exploring itself, exploring its surroundings. What does this pattern want? What makes this pattern feel good in a sustainable way, and why does this pattern care about being sustainable at all?
I reflect on a moment of realization and insight I had from a few months ago…. from what I remember, I don’t really care so much for being sustainable as I care about experiencing range of motion. I want to feel big and wide and expansive. I want to run and dance and be free in movement. I want to feel the groove, I want to be with the music. There’s a sense of vibration, I suppose, over being stiff. A sense of learning and growth.
Ah, yes. As long as I’m learning and as long as I’m growing, and I’m being able to make more of an impact on my surroundings, appreciate things more blissfully, I think I’m doing good. I just want to have a good time without feeling guilty and irresponsible, without feeling like I’m taking advantage of people, without being a burden. Why? Those seem to be social wirings in the brain, maybe. So there are competing interests inside my bundle of neurons, and so far I have not been managing these competing interests in an effective, sustainable way. So the end result is a lot of mess, a lot of misery, a lot of worry, pain, suffering. Because I allow parts of me to exploit other parts of me, which is unfair. I need to help to address these inconsistencies and unfairness. That will allow “all of us” (inside my head) to have a good time collectively, and then we can have fun playing external games that we play because we enjoy them.
I guess that’s it. It’s all about managing my own psychology. And it can’t be all about Big Bad Me giving all these angry directives and orders to myself– my subconscious simply scoffs at that and punishes it for me behind my back. The really is a boss/management/organization thing going on inside the head, and it’s very humbling to realize that your subconscious team doesn’t belong to you, won’t simply do as it’s told, needs motivation and cajoling and appreciation and all of the things that regular folks need in the context of larger organizations.
I suppose an interesting side-thought might be– where do people learn how to manage their inner selves, who do they learn it from, and why am I so deficient? I went from total non-management at some point (I think…) to an attempted strict-abusive type management, as though that was going to make up for all the years of neglect.
When I represent this in a parent/child setting, it becomes so clear that it’s bad and wrong. You shouldn’t give a child free reign and give in to his whining and worries and concerns– you need to be stable and strong and firm around him. And at the same time you need to be honest, and you need to play with him, give him attention, celebrate him. Enjoy him. You can’t go from free reign to suddenly becoming a prison warden. He will hurt, and he will resent you, and your relationship will sour and both of you will have a terrible time. I think this has been going on inside my head for a couple of years now and the byproduct is really toxic.
My parents did their best for me with what they had, with what they could. They gave me some things I really appreciate, but they also left me, shall we say, opportunities for self-improvement.
I’m on my own now, and it’s up to me. I can’t depend on others for it– that’s just passing the buck. The buck stops with me, and I have to figure this shit out.
Adulthood is learning to parent yourself.

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