Finding Atlas II

atlas

When I was about six or seven years old, my dad took me to see the Royal Palace, on the Dam in Amsterdam. He pointed upwards. “Look!” – he said. “You see that guy, carrying a globe upon his shoulders?” – “That´s Atlas, the bearer of the World“.* It was quite impressive, enough for me to remember more than two decades later.

The reason I titled these posts “Finding Atlas” is because the shift in my perception of Self, that I mentioned in the first one, is about finding a degree of mental fortitude that I would have considered impossible before. A state of mind which can protect me from feeling like a victim, feeling childlike, and being overly dependent on others.

Although the progress is slow, one step forward, a few steps back and so on, I can now use awareness as a tool to “feel” where my mind is slipping, spot the physical symptoms (such as shortness of breath and tension) and put it back on track  by using multiple strategies of relaxation and mindful presence. It has had quite a miraculous outcome so far.

To “spot” yourself and guide your own mind and body towards a different state of being is quite a demanding exercise. It requires and builds resilience, willingness to “get over yourself” (even if this includes ignoring the response of the central nervous system), and total dedication. My focus needs to be on being mindful, every day, all day.

In addition to non-response to “urges” (such as the urge to feel like a victim, the urge to hyperventilate or the urge to self-harm) I am actively engaging in awful challenges such as taking a shower with cold water when I´m clenching my body, or doing a workout when I´m feeling dysphoric, and then telling my mind to “roll with it”.

The courage I get from experiencing every tiny victory helps me charge into the next challenge, face it directly rather than dodge it, grab it by the horns and then hoist it up high above my head. The decision to get through whatever our minds are throwing at us – dysphoria or otherwise – is what makes us capable of incredible things.

It doesn´t mean that there is no dysphoria, or that there is no physical or mental memory of trauma. Identity can still clash with physical appearance and mental patterns don´t disappear into thin air. But when we take power away from them, and become bigger than any of these factors – that´s when we can start becoming our true Self.
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* Today I actually learned that Atlas is not carrying the World but standing on it, and shouldering the Heavens. Whether my dad was uninformed or I just didn´t remember correctly, I am now up to speed!

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5 thoughts on “Finding Atlas II

  1. When I was a boy, a variety of stresses led me to develop some of the self-control you discuss herein. That self-control is a core component of being a mature and good person – and something you may find lacking in the overwhelming majority of humanity.

    But, while the ability to perceive and control our own thoughts and emotions is absolutely crucial to becoming strong and sane, there is a downside: as you attempt to develop self-mastery, you are destabilizing habitual, subconscious patterns which are extremely intricate; this can have highly detrimental outcomes, as those once self-maintaining patterns may spin wildly out of control at your conscious touch.

    Frankly, the mistakes I’ve made with my own attempts at self-mastery, the variety of experiences and perceptions I’ve had while tinkering with my mind, are what primarily fuel my doubt in dysphoria’s legitimacy. No, I’m not asking you to defend your condition; I’m merely attempting to portray the gravity of the dangers you -will- be facing, by relating my definition to a subject you are familiar.

    Ah, and if you succeed, chances are that you will find yourself isolated: most people hate their superiors.

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    1. You´ve posted some interesting thoughts on my blog Louis, but… to be honest, I´m a little weary of the perception you seem to have in which you are somehow superior to “most others”. You don´t know “most others”, but are making some sort of general assumption based on people you have met personally, as if they were representative of the entire human population. Have you ever considered that the factor that is isolating you from others, is your own illusory grandeur?

      I have no need to see myself as superior to anyone. Most people I know are bright, and kind, and they contribute to the world around them in their own way, regardless of their levels of self-mastery, or what level of education they have. Even if you have mastered certain qualities, they are always people around you who have better mastery of other qualities, and who can teach us new things along the way and support us. If you think knowledge is vertical and top-down, you are missing out on a lot.

      As for your doubts about dysphoria – I fail to understand why you are trying to analyze its legitimacy in the first place. To make a strange comparison, it´s a bit like proclaiming that you know what Colombian coffee tastes like when all you have ever had in your life is tea. Self-mastery can only do so much to make dysphoria a bit more tolerable – and only with a tremendous effort – shift the focus towards other aspects of life so that it doesn´t drive us into depression. Dysphoria cannot be evaporated through self-mastery as it is part of one´s identity.

      Good day sir 😉

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  2. Indeed I have, as the title of my blog should suggest. I’m comfortable in stating that I am vastly superior to a genocidal dictator – I’m sure you would say the same of yourself. I would also say that Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates, are vastly superior to me when in comes to philanthropic contributions. If you’d like to question my integrity, you are welcome to do so openly.

    Whether we like it or not, whether we have preestablished metrics or not, everything can likely be quantified. And while many may be kinder than myself, few have contributed as much relative to their resources: I’ve never had much money, yet I’ve contributed over 2000 hours of volunteering, helping those in need – at fair pay, that would net me more money than I current possess, at least 2 fold.

    But there are qualities which are superior to others. Athletes, viewed as paragons by most others, do little more than run back and forth very well. What does this skill, in and of itself, contribute to society? On the other hand, what of philosophers and scientists, whom develop solutions to social and economic problems which have existed for tens of thousands of years?

    Contrary to popular opinion, judging people is not a bad thing; it’s like any other activity, that can be put to either destructive or productive ends. For example: many forms of harm, that people can inflict on each other, are punishments enforced by the penal system, to the end of maintaining social order.

    But you misinterpret my comment regarding dysphoria. I was attempting to say that, in my observations of the mind, I perceived various patterns. One of the patterns which interests me most, is the self-deception and psychologic self-mutilation common among the immature. Most others, committing heinous atrocities against each other, due to that immaturity, is very common.

    It merely seems to me that, if people can willingly and knowingly commit those atrocities, and encourage others to do the same, despite history proving the negative results, then the breadth of the human mind’s flaws is gargantuan. Psychosomatic, subconscious, self-induced dysphoria, seems to be very possible within that breadth, when the aforementioned types of insanity are so ubiquitous – not to equate transgenderism with savagery.

    As to whether or not metacognition can solve dysphoria [if it is indeed a legitimate biologically-caused issue], I also don’t know. What I do know is that the mind is capable of far more self-control and self-alteration that most others are aware – it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if metacognition could resolve dysphoria.

    On a lighter note: I’m “eating” a mexican, turkey-shaped, pineapple flavored lollipop. It’s likely the best lollipop I’ve ever had. I am completely serious.

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    1. If each of us possess traits that make us superior to others, yet we also possess traits that makes us inferior to them, aren´t we on an equal standing with them? It seems to me that the only thing you are willing to take into consideration in the comparison with other people, are your strong suits. What about people who are superior to you in aspects of personal growth that you haven´t yet achieved?

      In my opinion the term “immaturity” is different. It does not imply that somebody is inferior to you in all regards, but that they have not achieved a certain level of emotional or intellectual maturity on which to base their behavior. Someone who is immature (or insane) can still be intellectually superior to you. Maybe you should read “A Confederacy of Dunces”, by J.K. Toole. It´s about a dude who is very intellectual but poorly developed in the social sense.

      I leave the discussion here because this is not related to the content of my original post. For me achieving self-control is growth on a personal and spiritual level, and about becoming more connected to those around me – not less. For me it is more about intuition than it is about cunning and knowledge. As for your idea about dysphoria I repeat my tea and coffee analogy.

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  3. I wish life were so fair. It is not. The mentally-handicapped, for example, are simply weaker than the majority of people in most aspects. As they exist, so do their opposites. And I don’t recall drawing a direct correlation between intelligence and sanity; infact, I know very well that intelligence more-often leads to insanity: intelligence is somewhat like a force, and the more of it you have, the more control is required to prevent it from spinning out of control.

    Your perceptions of my opinion seem to take a common form: that I am something like an elitist; that I wish to subjugate others to my will. Whether we like it or not, some people harm society, other people help it. Those whom harm, should be denied the ability to do so – should be denied freedoms within society. Those whom help should be granted freedoms, so they may be unhindered in their aiding society. These are half the tenets of the penal system which keep you protected and alive; I assure you, without that system, you would quickly meet the people I demean. I merely encourage a more thorough system.

    I also believed that, with maturity, came connection to others. I was someone disappointed by the reality. Consider a child. They want many things which are self-destructive. The parent stops their behavior out of love and concern, yet the child only understands that they aren’t getting what they want; they rely on their primitive instincts to judge, rather than careful thought. As for your analogy, I’ve considered this; possessing a functioning relation between my mind and body, and a proficiency in self-control and alteration, I could view you as the one lacking perspective.

    Alvbro Pollito Asado – The name of these insane lollipops.

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