Quick! Solve your emotional problems now!

It is commonly recognized that if you have emotional, spiritual or psychological problems (NOT mental health issues – things like losing faith, or not being sure which career path to take, or noticing that you’re not anymore in love with your partner), they take some time.

I argue that we give them too much time.

This area of human psychology is fragile, so advice is often kind and “soft”, but we often completely ignore the fact that most problems shouldn’t take that long to solve. Here, decision paralysis reigns supreme. Hey, don’t you talk to me like that, don’t you know how I feel, don’t you understand that I’m in pain, recognize that I am suffering emotionally- STOP.

Pain is real, suffering is real and these problems are very real. I am not saying: “Just pretend they’re not there”. No. You should definitely take care of them, first, because you should generally take care of bad things in your life, and second, these problems are beneath an Overhuman.

But adopt the habit of asking this question whenever you feel stressed, bummed out and insecure: is this a problem that I could, at least in principle, solve more quickly than I am doing now?

Ask yourself that question. Could you, if you tried, solve it quickly? Sometimes the answer will be no, but it is still important to ask, because in most cases, the answer is a definite yes. Don’t play a role, play to win.

Playing a role mindset: this is a bad situation and I am supposed to suffer some undetermined (but relatively long) quantity of time, after which I may or may not find a solution/enlightenment.

Playing to win mindset: this is a bad situation. How can I solve it in the quickest, most effective way possible? If unsolvable, what can I do to minimize the amount and time of suffering and what can I do to get into a position of being able to solve it?

I look at it like this. We all get lost from time to time. Most of us find a way to somewhere, somehow. But for most people, it just takes too fucking long to reorient. You don’t need to spend a year contemplating your life’s purpose to find it. You don’t need to spend an additional two months in a bad relationship. Recognize this: at some point, you WILL reorient. No question about it. Nobody gets stuck forever. But if you know that you will reorient, why not do it more quickly?

The metaphors of life you have are the only thing you have in lifeย 

Recently, I overheard a conversation on the bus. Two girls were talking about how difficult it was for them to live with their parents now that they go to college. They said that their parents seemed more crazy every day because now they (the girls) were more mature and spent less time home. One girl talked about how her mother calls her every morning before she goes to class and asks her if she ate, gets her reply (“No, I’m not hungry.”) and then starts complaining on the phone: “You have to eat before class. You cannot not eat, it’s important that you eat.” And then she said to her friend how sad her parents seem now, and how she calls her mom here and there, asks her what she’s doing and gets a lethargic, sad report along the lines of: “Well… *sigh*… Nothing. You know. The usual. Your dad and I, we’re home, in the kitchen.” It seems that her parents spend most of their days now sitting in the kitchen, occasionally talking to one another, without much to say, more or less bored and lethargic and sad.

The girl was annoyed/incredulous that they lead their existence in such a way, but didn’t feel like she could help them and just felt kind of… sorry for them.

This conversation got me thinking about how her parents must see their lives as opposed to how certain other people see life, which reminded me of maybe the most valuable lesson I learned during my college education, something that was mentioned as a standard part of the Semantics class, and to which nobody seemed to be freaking out, or at least find it revolutionary, or even interesting: HUMANS UNDERSTAND LIFE THROUGH METAPHOR.

Everything in your life is a metaphor

Metaphors like “Life is an ocean” or “Love is a flower” or “Man is a wolf” are not just poetic devices. They are not just to be used in literature, as a nice and innovative way to compare things. We very literally think IN METAPHOR. We actually conceptualize the world around us using other things we already know. Lakoff and Johnson have a fine paper on this, if anyone wants to read it (at least read the examples so you get the picture).

We think in metaphor and we talk in metaphor. And we see our own lives in metaphor. You will have very different attitudes and do different things if you view your life as a train journey, opposed to your life being a wild, vast ocean. You could have many more metaphors. Maybe you see yourself as a wildfire, burning bright and consuming everything around you, becoming greater and greater. And maybe you see yourself as a forest: you provide wood, food, shelter to those in need, and you are deep, mysterious, and not easily traversed and known.

DO YOU SEE HOW IMPORTANT IT IS WHICH EXACT METAPHOR OR METAPHORS RULE YOUR LIFE?

You will do different things!

Someone that sees themselves as a lion will not do the same thing that see themselves as a miner stuck in a mine (I’ve heard both).

A lion will take risks, a lion will be aggressive, a lion will be territorial, a lion will be spontaneous and will be “true to himself” (whatever that may be), a lion will be a leader, a lion will not flinch from drawing blood, a lion will enter conflicts, a lion will fight, a lion will see other lions as competition, and everybody else will be seen as gazelle (inferior, food source).

Do you see how differently this person behaves in life than a miner stuck in a mine?

A miner stuck in a mine sees a hole through which light shines, but he is currently surrounded by darkness. This miner has to be slow, methodological and consistent. He cannot take stupid risks because he will die. He must slowly and carefully dig day in and day out, being meticulous, being diligent. He must work hard every day, and every day that hole is a bit bigger, and every day he is a bit closer to the light, and every day he comes closer to his goal.

Lions will make different choices in the same situations as miners. Our metaphors of life and of ourselves are the only thing we have in life.

It is possible to think about your life in more than one way, of course. Maybe you are sometimes a lion, sometimes an unmovable mountain, sometimes a card-player, sometimes a mysterious forest.

The parents of the girl from the beginning of this text certainly don’t see themselves as two wildfires, quick to consume everything on their path, becoming greater and burning brighter every day. More likely they see themselves as beds, or homes, or cradles. wildfireHow different (and probably more interesting) their lives would be if only they saw themselves in another metaphor! Instead of being a (currently unused) home for their children, why not see themselves as heroes and wizards, slaying dragons and searching for magical powers? They would not sit idly in the kitchen, leading a bored existence, and their daughter would not see them as flowers that need her care and attention.

It makes a lot of sense to pay special attention to your metaphors of life and self. You really will make different choices, depending on how you see yourself and life, as well as others around you.

Metaphors in rhetoric

Different metaphors of life are often the reason why some people absolutely cannot understand each other. Sometimes changing someone’s perspective is as simple as giving them a different metaphor (doesn’t have to be true): “What do you mean refugees are going to destroy this country? (person has metaphor of country as something pure, untainted) This land is a complex organism, and yes, we might be a little shaken up by something new, but when you get sick from one disease, you get an immunity to it, and then you’re stronger than before! (person now sees refugees as something that will strengthen the country instead of weakening it)”

Of course, it is not always so simple, but it is surprising how strongly swayed people will be. Inception, that’s what it is. You’ve planted a different picture in their heads now, and they cannot get rid of it. Maybe they still won’t change their opinion, but this is a formidable tactic in rhetoric. (Be extra careful not to get caught with it yourself; false analogy is an enemy).


What are the metaphors of your life? Are you a mysterious forest? Are you a noble knight? Is your life a journey or is it an ocean? Are your fellow men wolves or sheep?

Don’t simply find out what your metaphors are. Try to think critically about them. How do they influence you? Would you like to make different choices, lead a different lifestyle, but you cannot because your metaphor stops you?

Leave a comment.

Or don’t, if you’re a mysterious forest. Go listen to some Lana del Rey.

Qigong and some updates

It’s been a while. I’ve discovered this great thing: Qigong (also Chigong, Chi Kung, Chikung, Chi Gong…) It’s a type of ancient chinese medicine/workout/meditation. Yeah, I know, in the West, you usually separate all three, but in Chinese culture it’s nothing unusual to have it all under one category, probably something like “well-being”. Anyway, as opposed to classical sit-down-relax-concentrate-on-your-breath meditation, this one is done standing up and isn’t quite as passive as the forementioned. I’m still a beginner (I’ve only been doing it for a month or so) and I know only a little part of it but I already can feel the results.

It’s actually pretty hard to describe because it’s all about feeling the energy, the tightness, the relaxation, the subtle differences in muscular position in your body. It’s really something that needs to be tried in order to be comprehended fully. I recommend reading a book called “The Way of Energy” by master Lam Kam Chuen (I found it on Kickass torrents ๐Ÿ˜› ) Eventhough it’s really mystical and doesn’t have that scientific edge to it which I like, it’s still a good book to read. After all, there has to be something in all that “energy” talk, the thing is probably they haven’t explained it properly for today’s standards because they rely too much on the traditional way of explaining, the way when you couldn’t explain things “scientifically” because ofย  lack or inexistence of science as conceived today.

Anyway, I don’t feel any greater changes in my body (yet!) but I do feel a nice, soothing change in my mind. I’m just much more relaxed and carefree. It’s like I have control over being stressed and not being stressed. It’s still not perfect: I do get angry or sad sometimes because of things I can’t change, but that feeling lets go very soon. This is not to say that I don’t think people should get angry or sad. They should. It’s only natural. But I just want to have control over that. The ability to say to myself: “Not now, you’ll get angry afterwards, there are more important things to do now.” Or: “You won’t get sad because of this because it’s nothing you can influence.” Still haven’t mastered the first one, kind of mastering the second one. As said, I still have a lot of work to do.

But still, I wouldn’t say it is all Qigong. If you want to be more relaxed and more carefree, more focused, you kind of have to accept this philosophy. I think meditation and Qigong helped a LOT! But there is one more thing: accepting the philosophy of being carefree. It’s like this: if you can do anything about it, you should engage the problem, fight it, try to solve it, put your best into it. If there is no possibility of you influencing the outcome then just don’t worry about it. Wait for the moment when there will be something for you to do. Otherwise, shoga nai! Shoga nai, in Japanese, means something like “can’t be influenced” or “nothing to be done”. It’s a cultural concept as well as a lingustic one. (nice article about it all: click me!)

If we’re talking about Japanese, then I would like to mention the influence of anime on my life. Actually, not just anime but anything that’s an input: book, song, movie, series, play, videogame, other people… I have one criterion about it all: what I put in has to change me as a person. I have to get inspired. I have to get motivated. I have to change my opinions. In some way, a change in myself has to be induced. I don’t really watch or read or listen to anything that’s just fun, but not quite change-inspiring. Of course, you can never know in advance about anything so it’s good to be open-minded and try, but keeping this criterion is important to me.

Examples:

Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z

What I learned, how I changed? Well, I got inspired to live a more humble and simple lifestyle. I started worrying less and being more positive to everyone. I started training much more. I started spending time in nature more. A great thirst for travel has been awakened in me. I adopted the philosophy of training hard and surpassing my own limits.
The series has brought much more to me: I laughed and I lived with the characters. Still one of my favorite ones.

Death Note

What I learned, how I changed? I started thinking. A lot. I started perceiving other people and analysing things around me. The same way I started experiencing subtle changes in my body when I trained Qigong, I started perceiving subtle changes in my thoughts. I can say with certainty I became smarter.

One Piece

What I learned, how I changed? I learned the importance of living by your dreams and not by what others ask you to. I started worrying less and being even more carefree. I understood the value of true friendship, of being “nakama” to someone, and the fact that such a thing hasn’t existed in my life since high school. I started training more because of Zoro and started cooking more because of Sanji. It’s not like I wanted to be like them, it’s more that they inspired me to do something I already wanted to. I learned how society can be wrong, while you can be right.

There are many, many more. I can’t even begin to speak how all the books and movies and shows on Sherlock Holmes shaped me as a person.

Anyway, updates from my life:
– going on a 500km walking trip in a month or so (told you that Dragon Ball influenced me!) which I’ll try to do barefoot
– started working much more on my Parkour technique, doing new things, things that frighten me ๐Ÿ˜€
– started doing a bit of calisthenics and applying Ido Portal’s methods to my trainings

That’s it ๐Ÿ˜€