It’s always my aim (new year or not) to read more books, particularly non-fiction. I’m currently reading Steve Biko’s “I Write What I Like” in candle light because living in Rural KZN means you could be the only one in your neighbourhood without electricity. And even though you do electrical engineering there is nothing you can do about it but condemn the government and manufacturers of electricity meters to hell.
I’m in the process of reading “Fear-An Important Determinant in South African Politics” and I’m feeling a frenzy of emotions. Justified anger because “if white people could be cruel enough to cow the natives down with cruel force and install themselves as perpetual rulers in a foreign land, then anything else they do to the same black people becomes logical in terms of the initial cruelty.” Melancholy humour at his surmising that “Hitler is not dead, when I turn my radio on, when I hear someone in jail slipped off a piece of soap, fell and died I say we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead. He is likely to be found in Pretoria.” Steve Biko’s conviction that black people have no reason to aspire (and assimilate) to whiteness and the subsequent reasons for his conviction effuse me with a sense of empowerment. My mental space also has traces of hopelessness and determination from reading The Guardian’s “OprahWinfrey: One of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinker” earlier.
With all these emotions in mind I imagine my inner parent is frantically trying to stabilise my emotions and maintain a semblance of calm. Trying to keep me from falling into a hopeless depression because of the dim lighting and Biko’s renderings of black suffering. On other days, my inner parent must keep me from falling hopelessly in love with perfect strangers or making a fool of myself in front of the one I love. At times, she drags me out of bed at dawn for a morning jog or spin class because health is wealth sand she wants that coin. She bullies motivation, determination, and perseverance out of me because “Baby girl, we have a vision! Get on with it.” Almost always, she reminds me that fear, self-doubt, and anxiety shouldn’t take up permanent residence in my life because SHE WILL NOT HAVE IT!
I’m convinced that my description is overly and unnecessarily spiced and peppered but it’s a true description of how my mental space feels. I think that successful adulting is the ability to successfully parent yourself, which is manage this frenzy of emotions. One can imagine the mind is a control room much like the one on “Inside Out”, with the inner parent being neutral (albeit stressed) being that is responsible for overseeing one’s emotions. The emotions being underlings that have varying degrees of dominance and rebellion. I believe that everyone has different combination of dominant emotions and those emotions have dominance of varying degrees.
"You are the most qualified person to be your parent. You have insights about your mental health, endurance, physical health, and access to resources that nobody else has and are thus the most qualified to successfully parent yourself."
The combination of dominant emotions and the degrees of intensity of those dominant emotions is the reason or manifestation of individuality. According to an article shared by Puja Mondal, differences between individuals may be explained by the facts of heredity or nature, environment or nurture, and training. The article goes on to discuss how race, sex, heredity, maturity, as well as social and economic status are the top 5 factors that are considered causative of individual differences. This can be interpreted to say that these facts (facts of heredity, nature, nurture, environment, and training) are the top five facts that determine the dominant emotions (or character traits).
These dominant emotions or character traits in turn determine what is most important in one’s life (i.e. the necessities of one’s life) and consequently one’s livelihood (one’s means of acquiring the necessities of life). Individuality (less barriers to entry, glass ceilings, and oppression) is the reason that everyone isn’t burning their fingers with solder, or prying over spreadsheets, or covered in paint.
Taking care of oneself, one’s ability to solve their problems, one’s anxiety, one’s motivation, and one’s interpretation of a happy life is different from the next because every one of us has a different combination of dominant emotions and even if they were the same, they are of varying intensities. I am convinced that keeping this in mind would spare us a lot of judgement and unnecessary self-criticism.
I for one, I am easily inspired by other people’s success stories, but the same success stories that inspire me can easily throw me in an emotional slump when I think of how much my peers have done and compare it to how much I have done (which easily amounts to nothing). An awareness of my emotional space, the dominant emotions in my emotional space, the subsequent monitoring of the dominant emotions, and grooming of emotions that positively contribute to my growth could deal with said emotional slumps. Doesn’t it make sense that if you introspect regularly, that you are more likely to be aware of negative behaviour (read: action and personally unwanted consequence) and thus be able to change it?
So, going forward into 2018 (yes, some New Year, New Me BS) I aspire to not only read more non-fiction but also to introspect regularly as well as edit and redirect my actions and reactions.
As I was preparing to write this post I remembered a Humans of New York video (here) I’d seen that stayed with me (this sound so preachy) as I was looking for it I found this one below. It's one of those of things that kind of break your heart but is also eye-opening. Maybe it will speak to you like it did to me and help clarify how the same thing can mean different things to different people…. See you in the next post.
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