Literally

I’ve been accused of taking things too literally – this wasn’t always so and I wonder if my time spent in the world of logic, process and data collection somehow brought this forth –

I suspect the real culprit is my closet philosopher’s spirit –

Understand that I believe Philosophy to be the activity of logic and reasoning to find a works-for-every situation, answer to some aspect of the human condition – questions must be put forth, in ever mind numbing tangents and possibilities, until an answer can pass as the affirmative given any possibility.

I could be wrong…

Still, the definition I gave above is an activity I engage in often – within my own brain committee.   I even took advantage of taking one Philosophy course through OpenYale.

(If you want to take college classes and can’t afford to, check this out – I’ve still got a “to do” list from this site a mile long!)

That one course was invigorating and enlightening – but it also made me very aware that I’m not cut out to be a Philosopher.

Quite frankly, because at a certain point in pondering, I reach what those in the process improvement world call “Negative ROI” – meaning, you reach a point where further energy spent to improve something does not result in enough return on investment to cover the cost of the additional effort –

So, my label is “Ms. Good-Enough Philosopher”

I go so far and declare, “Good Enough.   If something shows up and it’s not adequate, then perhaps I’ll revisit the subject…”

There’s only two Life motto’s I have adopted that defy this propensity to stop at “Good Enough” – for me, they work, all the time, no matter the situation.

#1 “Every Problem used to be a Solution”

Courtesy, Loretta Sparks, Substance Abuse Counselor, EFT Master

I’ve yet to see this one not bear out – whether talking about the beer every evening that made the day seem less terrible but has now escalated to financial issues and family discord, or the quiet, introverted stance that kept safe a child in an abusive home, but is now keeping the man from public speaking and a promotion…

My anger that protected me from those who were draining me and who I couldn’t bear to ‘let down’ that became an over-protective lord, ready to lash out at anyone or thing that seemed bent on interfering with my new story…

I’m sure you’ll have your own examples – and if you think of one that isn’t covered by this – let me know!  I haven’t found it yet…

#2 “Whatever Works”

This one, because of my own tendency towards the literal, needs a bit of a disclaimer.   If you think killing your neighbor’s dog will work for you – that is not covered under this.

I’m referring to finding that which works for you and being okay with the fact that it may not measure up fully to those around you or the society you live in. I also understand that in some societies, pursuing  “What Works” can lead to punishment and death from those who like things just the way they are – as I also understand there are some things that you just aren’t willing to die for.

**********

“Whatever Works” came to me at a time when the self-help industry was exploding and at some point, I grew rather unhappy over how some of the self-appointed experts and gurus replied to those seeking answers as to why such-and-such (meditation, affirmation, diet, visualization) hadn’t worked for them…

Here’s some sample responses:

“Obviously, you didn’t believe enough.”

“You didn’t do it right.”

“You must be sabotaging yourself, why do you want to hold yourself back?”

I don’t remember ever seeing answer like this,

“Well, it worked for me – but understand, our experience, our knowledge base, our personalities, our life paths – all are so different, what worked for me may just not work for you – now, or possibly ever.   I hope that you do find what will work for you.  Please contact me if you think I could be of any assistance in the future.”

I realize this kind of answer probably puts the damper on book sales – how can you be an expert and best-seller, if you’re honest enough to say, “May not work for everyone.”?

So, in face of my growing cynicism, I adopted a “Whatever Works” policy – if you come to me, in need of a different perspective, because what you’re doing is no longer working for you, I’m happy to share instances where I faced what I see as similar and what worked for me.

If  none of those appeal to you, I’m happy to sit and make up stories until we find one you like and feel up to trying.

If we make up stories for long enough, I guarantee we will finally find one that either makes you laugh, or seems possible or inspires you so much, you jump up, and leave, eager to start living your new story –

Or you will be so tired of the process, you look back and think, “I put myself through listening to Tamrah that long over that silly little episode?  What was I thinking?!?”

Either way, problem solved.

**********

I’m writing this because I’m a skeptic of the Positive Thinking movement – I see the power and glory in it, but I’m tired of the cry to suppress, stifle or ignore our less than pleasant emotions – – I think our desire to wipe out Negativity has greatly impacted the numbers in our country who are diagnosed and suffer from a host of mental diagnosis and the subsequent side effects of medication.

(Not, mind you, that I believe mental illness to not be a valid thing – rather, I think because we can medicate, we do, even when validation of where we are, now and support might work just as well, if not better.)

This is what I would like to see in our society:

“Well, yes, you have every right to be angry, depressed, sad, anxious.   I can see how recent events have sort of thrown you for a loop.   I VALIDATE your right to feel this way, in this moment.”

Followed by:

Are you uncomfortable because this doesn’t work for you or because you’re being nudged out of your comfort zone?

Do you want to stay in this place?

Yes?  Okay.  But because I love you, if I think you are getting lost in it, I’m going to come wading in after you – “

No?   Okay then, let’s see what story we can come up with that will work better for you.”

Instead, our culture seems to prefer –

“Take this pill”

or

“You need to quit being so negative.   You just brought this on yourself through all your negative vibrational energy.”

or

“I don’t know why you are still struggling with this – – I pray for you every day!”

or

“Get over it – Cut it loose – Why are you hanging on to this?”

or my personal favorite that’s guaranteed to set my teeth on edge:

“Don’t be like that.  Your unhappiness is negatively affecting my happy place.”

**********

I believe taking every opportunity to notice the joy and beauty in our lives does give us a richer experience.  That hoping for the best and keeping our chin up through the worst is not a bad thing.

That hope, belief and faith can move mountains.

But, I, in my little ‘take everything literally’ world cry out,

“I’m tired of trying to be something I’m not – so today, I’m going to be a human being – in all it’s wonderful and wretched glory.   I refuse to take a pill to make my sadness go away – I refuse to chant affirmations in a misplaced effort to numb my soul and quiet my inner voice.  I will, by gummy, discover my greatest gifts and talents while wading through the horrific muck known as the “negative” portion of my mind and soul.  I’ll do it and I’ll be better for it, just you wait and see.”

**********

To all those who are wading in the muck – one foot in front of the other – there will always be someone waiting on the other side, while you walk your Warrior’s Journey – with outstretched arms, a huge smile and warm hug…

“Congratulations!  I never doubted for a moment that you could do it.  Tell me-  Tell me what you learned.”

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15 thoughts on “Literally”

  1. I enjoyed your post. Very interesting perspective about the “negative ROI” = “good enough”. Do you put things through an analysis, or recognize this in hindsight? The only application of any of my philosophy courses I have ever used is logical analysis –

    Yes, agree. “Whatever works.” Or, in my head, a multi-disciplined approach…which is often very unconventional.

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    1. As for the ROI analysis – if the exercise is to determine ROI for a client or business, yes, I put it through a strict analysis – Especially for those I custom build databases for – once they see how much efficiency can be gained by automation and streamlined process forms, they often get all excited and want everything turned into a one click wonder – I often tell them there is no profit to be had by paying me for four hours work to automate something they only need compiled once a year and takes only 30 minutes to do, anyways – Course, I don’t turn down the money to do it if they want to throw it at me! LOL

      As for my personal goals – I’m rather a generalists – I have a very few passions that I will pursue forever, but for the most part, I take things just a far as needed to ‘work’ – then I’m off to learn something new – Sometimes this bites me in the arse, but not very often…
      🙂
      A multi-disciplined approach is, to my way of thinking, the grandest way – and I think it is only seen as unconventional because you and I had the poor luck to be born in the age of the specialist/expert – –
      But be of good cheer – given the wealth of information available to our fingertips – the ‘social experts’ claim that the age of the generalist is coming back – those who know a just enough about so many subjects that they can quickly find whatever information they need on any subject – – SO Hopefully, our turn will be coming around again soon!

      I’m so tired of being accused of being ‘flighty’ – my grandfather grew tobacco, ran an auto garage and built/repaired everything he needed, himself – I miss the days of the pioneering spirit!

      LOL

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      1. Glad to know we will be back in vogue! 🙂 Even as a “generalist” I have a tendency to become an “expert” as I work on various projects, or develop an interest in a particular area. But you are correct, because of the ability to work in a broad area, is considered “unfocused.” Totally get the ROI concept – use it for work. Was curious about personal life use.

        SMILE re gramps… mine was formally educated to 6th grade, then self-educated after that. He could fix or make anything. The items he made are still intact today. As kids we would say he could even “fix a pig’s curly tail.” He was an accountant for an auto manufacturer – and he loved new things in technology… Wish he could have had some time to play with the www.

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    2. And, in regards to philosophy -yes, as the question/answering session drills down into possibilities that may happen but probably won’t, I get bored with it all – – For instance – the philosophy course I did at OpenYale was about Death – great course, enjoyed it, but at some point, when he started bringing out all the possibilities regarding what constitutes “life”, for example, if your consciousness could be downloaded and then uploaded to AI, I realized I’ll never be a dedicated philosopher – I’m just not willing to take a discussion that far into the future (even if it is, in secret labs, right around the corner..LOL) or drill that deep into the nitty gritty –

      For me, that time could be spent learning about something else! LOL

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      1. I get it! The courses were required. The only one I found interesting, useful and did not zone out during was the logic course. (I don’t care much for theory coursework, I prefer application.) Of the other 3 courses, the only concept that I even recall is the idea that one cannot be bad at something unless they are good at it. (No idea or inclination to research this for more info.)
        Now your post on the issue related to health/safety of e-cigs and the FDA? That has my attention 🙂

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        1. Yeah – I haven’t gotten any “Urgent! Urgent” emails regarding that for awhile, and the business of e-cigs appears to be expanding, so I guess the fears of shut-down were either unfounded or the FDA found something else deemed more important –

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  2. great post! yes we’re often made to feel like something is wrong with us if we’re not in a happy joyful place all the time. (i don’t see how anyone could be – as much as there is beauty and love in this world, we are living in some pretty intense and destructive times.) authenticity is so key. only when we’re real with ourselves can true transformation occur – if we are ready and want it to, that is ;).
    we need more honest and compassionate responses like yours in the world! thanks, aleya

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    1. I spent many years in the Positive Thinking crowd – most of my friends subscribed to that way – but at some point, I just started feeling like it was going too far – that taken to extremes, (like belief) it was resulting in non-compassionate and sometimes, very hurtful behavior, when taken to an absolute in every situation.

      One of my favorite quotes is, “Everyone is doing the best they can, with what they have, with where they are at.” – I first heard it at a Mike Dooley seminar, but upon looking it up, it has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson – and many others.

      I guess I try to think positive, but walk the line on meeting people where they are at – not where others think they should be…

      There’s that awful ‘should’ word again! LOL

      While there is no doubt that others having high expectations of us can actually aide in supporting and raising us to new heights, I just don’t buy into the fact that it is always the best way of dealing with someone.

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      1. there’s definitely something appealing about the positive thinking – who doesn’t want to find ways of feeling good all the time? but i agree that it can be harmful if taken to an extreme…when there is judgment over others, or superiority.
        i’ve witnessed myself become this way with my own family and now i serious check myself! now i try to be more authentic with myself and allowing to let others feel how they feel without ‘wronging’ them.

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        1. It’s somewhat of a learning curve – especially when you love someone and are hurting for them and so want to help – 🙂

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