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Heart of Darkness


Posted on 2012.05.05 at 14:21
Current Location: 67114
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My girlfriend was wrong. Or at least, I was beginning to think so. I was sure that logically apathy had to be experienced to be best understood. So I sunk into it. Not from a nihilistic aspect - just because one may believe that life has no meaning or value doesn't mean they are apathetic about it - its actually quite freeing and the opposite has a tendency to occur. So why the apathy? This is what I sought out. And let me express how difficult it is writing (a feat in itself when feeling entirely unmotivated) logically on a feeling in which lends itself to unmotivated hopelessness. I did find a quote by John Dos Passos which suggests the cure for apathy is comprehension. My life this last year or so has been consumed with understanding the motivations and intents of myself, and of others, most of whom cannot explain either to me. If comprehension fixes apathy, I would appear to have a long, long way to go if I can't get the answers I need.

I am hoping however, that by writing it out and examining all the pieces, I will be able to surmount this entirely foreign phenomenon.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's (a contemporary of Abraham Maslov) illustration of mental states as compared to challenge and skill levels, I was quite surprised to have found myself living nearly fully within a state of arousal - in which everything I do I find stimulating. By this same token, what I am apparently feeling is not apathy at all. I was feeling overwhelmingly frustrated. And its no wonder I did not or could not recognize it as such as I am rarely subjected to it.

So why frustration?

Unlike those less attuned to themselves, who think that whatever is happening to them at that moment is the cause, I knew that the cause of my discontent was far more reaching. I was also surprised to find frustration missing on Csikszentmihalyi's illustration, for surely that too is a state wedged between challenge and skill?

[Frustration is] perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. Internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies.

Frustration therefore is a byproduct of high challenges without the skillset to cope with them, and that is on the chart. I am frustrated, yes, but only because I am anxious. Despite attempting to catalog these feelings of abject hopelessness I am also having to feel them. As an empiricist I find the experience fascinating! I am also in a lot of pain. It hurts to feel, and I despise weakness in myself.

So why anxiety?

This one I've learned in part from my wife's doctor who discussed stressors. Lack of emotion is only one of the definitions of apathy. Another is the suppression of them. There have been a lot of changes this past year and regardless of intent or outcome, change can be stressful - even good change, and I have had plenty of both. I wonder if I have reached the point where my own suppression of emotion due to numerous stressors is starting to manifest itself? I feel I am going to have to let it go, or find another short-term coping mechanism.

This of course always begs the question, "What is it I want?"

I want to live unconstrained with knowledge sought and freely exchanged. I want to eradicate greed and teach my children there is no right or wrong just motivation and intent and behavior. I want to express myself without being misunderstood and I want to understand others once they first understand themselves. I want them to ask questions and be curious about everything while allowing me the same freedoms. I want us all to apply what we've learned and fulfill our lives. I want to discuss these things day and night until I get it all figured out.

In short, I want everything.

Who doesn't?


slchurchman at 2012-05-05 21:52 (UTC) (Link)
Despite attempting to catalog these feelings of abject hopelessness I am also having to feel them. As an empiricist I find the experience fascinating! I am also in a lot of pain. It hurts to feel, and I despise weakness in myself.

Ah, the curse of INTJs and ISTJs--emotions. We tour through life using our logic and believe we can think through/analyze anything that comes our way. Then we are struck by the dreaded EMOTION. This past year and a half has taught me many painful lessons concerning this.

1. Not allowing an emotion to be felt exacerbates it.

2. While analyzing why one is feeling a certain emotion has a definite role in dealing with them, it is only one step.

3. Believing that having an emotional experience is a weakness is a CROCK! I,too, have always looked at emotions in this way. Until you give yourself the okay to feel this, it is not being dealt with. I have found that once I admit that I'm human, I feel, I hurt, and THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, then I start to deal with the experience.
ehowton at 2012-05-05 22:02 (UTC) (Link)
1. So I've discovered.

2. What are the other steps? I need to efficiently and quickly step through them, thank you very much.

3. Ah, how simple! Yes, were it that easy I would surely give myself that luxury, for do not kid yourself it is surely that. However, I am responsible for far to much for an undetermined amount of downtime while I nurse my feelings back to to health. Furthermore, while those who have feelings are allowed to bask in this expectation, those us of who do not, aren't. Though I appreciate the suggestion!
michelle1963 at 2012-05-06 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
The thing about dealing with emotions is that they have their own time-table. And unfortunately, the only way to rid oneself of the unwanted emotions, when one is unable to change the external circumstance or neurochemical imbalance causing them, is to feel them.

As I'm not prone to neurochemical imbalances, my experiences concerning unwanted, hard-to-tame emotions have been due to external circumstances I had no power to change. (The death of my father is one example.) As a great adapter ~ which I've come to realize often means that I adapt my expectations, BUT ALSO means that I make minute adjustments to a circumstance to make it palatable ~ I am absolutely blown away when there is not one single option left to me to improve the circumstance. My ability to adapt is based on my ability to modify, however slightly, the situation. When I can't interact with the circumstance, I don't know how to adapt. Literally, I feel as if it "does not compute." And I find myself repeating silently, "this is just stupid."

All that's left is to suck it up. This takes time. The logical brain is fast; the emotional brain very slow. It kicks, screams, and rails. But incrementally, the feeling will move into the past. And every time you have to suffer, you're one step closer to the day that you no longer are.

Interestingly enough, in all cases, I've found that when I've let go of the pain (and often I've hung on to it because I was afraid I'd lose everything if I did) I find that all of the things I feared would disappear are still there, and I can actually take some joy from them that I couldn't were I still in pain. Of course knowing this and being able to do it at will are two entirely different things. Again: emotions. Yet, I tell you this so that you can at least know it logically.

ehowton at 2012-05-06 01:20 (UTC) (Link)
I want to skip the suffering.
michelle1963 at 2012-05-06 04:33 (UTC) (Link)
Believe me, I know.
ehowton at 2012-05-06 21:37 (UTC) (Link)
Or, as you said above, speed it up by suffering more acutely, frequently.
ehowton at 2012-05-23 00:03 (UTC) (Link)
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