Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Self-Loathing

“Psychologically healthy people will pause at least once a day to say, out loud, ‘I hate myself.’ This is a kind of purgative, a casting-out of the demons that cause one to do stupid things. You feel better instantly. And you can be proud that you have the courage to get in touch with your Inner Loser.” –Joel Achenbach

I liked being reminded of this. It is such a positive way of looking at a negative trait. The positive and negative are so twisted, so entwined, like two vines tangled. I hate myself, but I don’t accept that, so I deny that I hate myself. I don’t hate myself!! I’m not disgusted with my every thought! I’m not looking around at everyone else, thinking that they have it all figured out while I am the poster child for alienation. But all this denial is just digging me deeper into the muck. So if I can have a moment of clarity, I can admit that, yes, I am alienated, and for good reason–that sometimes I’m like the John Nash character in the movie, A Beautiful Mind: “I don’t much like people, and they don’t much like me.” Whew. That’s a relief. Now I can start anew and maybe salvage some positive thoughts.

I am keenly aware of the pleasure I derive from other people. And not just my family and friends. Today when I was walking at lunchtime I passed a young woman on the street; she looked at me and said “Hello, there!” It made me smile.

I like helping people at work and it’s great when I can solve someone’s problem and be the hero of the moment. For that matter, I also enjoy the feeling of being a steady member of the team, just doing my part, day by day.

The internet has opened a whole new world of ideas and the interchange of opinions with others. I’m amazed that so much gratification can be derived from typed words on a computer screen. No physical manifestation of humanity at all. We could just be brains floating in vats of fluid, sending signals back and forth, and it would be the same.

There is wisdom in Achenbach’s humor. If I can keep the negativity under control, and just pause to purge once a day or so, I can hope to achieve this “psy-cho-log-i-cal health” that he speaks of.

3 comments:

Sara said...

That John Nash character reminds me of myself, somedays. "I don't much like people . . ."

Thanks for the stage-fright encouragement. I can lose myself in my guitar and singing and not worry too much about the audience. But I've been performing my piano stuff for 16 years and it still terrifies me. It's so easy to make a blatant mistake on the piano. Usually you can cover up a guitar mistake by doing a key change or adding a new riff to a musical break, unless you're me and you say, "Whoops!" every time you make a mistake.

Read/Think/Live said...

You are so right, Sara.

My mediocre piano teacher used to always say to play through the mistakes, and she was right about that, in her low-standard-perpetuating way. Average listeners won't notice the mistake, but when you hear the mistake and react by trying to "correct" it, or if it makes you self-conscious and causes you to stumble and lose the rhythm, then that is very noticeable. That's another reason I prefer just to play for myself. Performance requires you to start at the beginning and play through to the end without stopping. But I don't usually feel like doing that. If I mess up, I want to redo it right now. And I'm always messing up.

The guitar is much more forgiving.

die4-luv said...
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