2022.01.10 Journal

* 30 minutes on the programming tutorial
* Day Six of journaling about Guilt/Blame/Evil

* Meditation – Day 672
* Journaling – Day 15
* Yoga – Day 14

Reflections:: 7:30am. I woke up, did yoga and meditation, and now here I am journaling. Adding yoga to meditation is feeling like it’s on auto-pilot. Which is great because it’s a habit that has positive effects on my physical and mental state. Though at the same time, hedonic adaptation is setting in so it’s getting more challenging to be mindful during these activities, as they’re losing novelty. It’s something that one needs to work on in every area of life – appreciating the good things we’ve brought into it and being present.

I’m noticing that it feels like the week just flew by with regards to journaling about Guilt/Blame/Evil. This makes sense though as I’m back at work – not on vacation. And also as the feelings associated with Guilt are easier to accept and process. Guilt is about thinking there’s something wrong with the actions you’ve taken while shame is about there being something wrong with you as a person. It’s harder to accept that we’re ok and worthy of being loved. Once we do that, accepting that our actions flowed naturally from being part of the same system that we just came to term with to overcome shame, seems pretty natural. Also, in my case, I observe that some of my initial processing around shame included actions I felt guilty about. I believed that my actions defined me. So being the person who made actions he felt guilty about meant that I was a person who should be ashamed of himself. So taking responsibility for the actions was tied to feeling shame. At my current level of understanding about shame – and I’m cautiously excited for deeper ones – who we are and our actions are all perfectly fine. They’ve happened and are real regardless of how we feel about them. How we feel about them and our reactions to those feelings influences the actions we will take in the future. However we react and feel will be part of the past as soon as they’ve occurred and at that point we’ll need to accept and love those actions also, just like all the ones of the past. So given that, accepting and loving all actions and feelings – mine as well as everyone else’s – is simply logical. Given that, I’m really appreciating some of the questions I’ve been conditioning myself to ask. Especially, “In what ways is the opposite also true.” So when I’m ashamed or feeling guilty, I find that I’m asking myself, “In what ways do I feel proud of myself or my group or my actions in the same scenario?” and that asking myself these questions leads to deeper understanding and insight. And not to be a downer, but for the sake of deeper understanding and really leaning into guilt, I can ask myself the same thing about actions I take pride in. That’s a realtime realization as I’m journaling that can lead to a deeper understanding of emotions I avoid. Everything I take pride in, in what ways is the opposite also true? How can I – especially my subconscious, or my conscious mind when I’m having a rough day – look at the same scenario and feel shame or guilt? Ok, so things I take pride in/ like about myself include:
* my health
* my work
* that I’ve done interesting things
* that I attract interesting partners and they want to form longstanding relationships with me
* that I’ve been cultivating good habits
* that I’m introspective
* that I’m cultivating deeper emotional depth
* that I have healthy habits
* that I make positive contributions to the world around me
* that I’m open-minded
* that I make time to read
* that I got into incredible universities
* that I’m independent-minded enough to walk away from comfortable situations
* that I’ve taken on interesting hobbies
* that I’m now journaling every day
* that I’m able to navigate the world in a manner that creates meaningful work for other people
* that people describe me as a positive person to have in their lives

Each of those things, even obvious ones like my health, inspire feelings of guilt as well. So for my health, ways it leads to guilt include:
* Makes me think about ways I’ve taken my health for granted and more I could do. Such as stretching, eating more healthfully, and seeing doctors. Makes me think about a past relationship where one of the points of pain was that I had a chronic sinus infection – over 20 years – that I went to doctors about and was unable to fix. It bothered my partner because she could smell the infection in my nose. I felt annoyed at the situation because I tried a number of things but it didn’t get fixed. I always felt like I could be doing more to explore ways to fix it. Ironically, it somehow went away at some point in the last year or so and I don’t know exactly when or how or what caused it getting better. For all I know it’s not really gone, but it’s been a non-factor in my life for over a year now. Getting out of that relationship was definitely a healthy move for a number of other reasons (though of course there are ways the opposite is also true), and at the same time I find it interesting that thinking about my health and how I appreciate that about myself gets me thinking about ways it wasn’t.
* Makes me think about ways that perhaps I’m selfish for having good health. I prioritize things like exercise and eating healthfully, seeing directly how not doing so leads to poorer health in short order. So when I make food for myself, not only does it cost substantially less and have lower environmental impact as there’s less packaging for the food I turn into ingredients, I waste less, and I generally cook vegan so not as much land needs to be cleared to produce the food, but also my physical health improves. My weight stabilizes at a fairly low body fat and I have high energy, which makes it easier for me to see positives and enjoy other parts of life. Everything’s easier when you feel good. At the same time, I can feel guilt that others I love don’t have as healthy habits and I’m not doing more to help them.
* Makes me think about ways I’m being self-centered or antisocial by focusing on my health. It’s generally more social to eat at restaurants. That said, I’ve been experimenting with having people over and making food for them. People seem to like that also.

I dunno… writing about ways that I feel guilt or shame about my health is feeling kind of forced. But there is indeed something there. And I’m realizing that exploring ways that I *could* feel guilty if I tried hard enough is helping me see ways where I could proactively address situations to set up future me to have taken actions that are that much more harmonious and conducive for the world around me being better. Like I’m now realizing that making healthful vegan food and inviting people over to eat it is a great way of socializing with practically no downsides. Healthier food, cheaper, lower environmental impact, normalizes healthful activities, and people generally feel closer to you when they’ve been over to your house.

Ok, how about my work? I am proud that I’m the CEO of mission driven companies. I do work that is intended to make the world more how I wish it were. And I do it with integrity from top to bottom. So I communicate directly with people, work towards paying top of market, and generally work towards creating a healthy work environment so that our interactions with stakeholders outside of work are healthy also. At the same time, as part of this work I often terminate peoples’ employment, decide to terminate projects, and generally say no a lot. So I’m often disappointing people. Not every one of my decisions is correct, and not every one of them is fair. So there’s a lot to feel guilty about. It comes with the job. I suppose the same could be said for any part of life – being a son, being a parent, being a friend, being human. Whether you stay in all day or go out into the world, there’s something to feel guilty or ashamed about. Even if you intend to help others, you’ll make mistakes from time to time. I can imagine being someone who’s a pediatric brain surgeon that runs their house as an orphanage, and feeling bad about being harsh with one of the kids after a long day at work, or dwelling on the person who died on the operating table after making a call that turns out to have been the wrong one in retrospect. Then of course there’s the fact that I didn’t become a pediatric brain surgeon and I don’t have an orphanage. Is that something to feel guilty about? I could. And at the same time, I’m very happy with what I do and feel like it aligns my skills and gifts to what the world needs and benefits from at the moment.

Thinking about guilt from this angle is indeed helping me have a deeper relationship to guilt and an understanding of it. Guilt now seems like a natural thing that happens from doing anything. Just like shame seems like a natural thing that happens just from existing. I’m feeling like today’s journaling was a particularly useful one with regards to coming to terms with guilt.

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