A Glance at Confidence
For a long time after the change of political system, perhaps a decade or two, art cinemas in Budapest offered an amazing selection of movies. While in Toronto you might have found two alternative films per week, in Budapest there were two hundred, from different continents, ages and styles. Any visual gourmand could treat themselves to great delicacies. After having watched a film with two casual friends we went for a tea to discuss our experiences. The conversation revolved around some issue that I didn’t see in the film at all. Where did this come from? I wondered. At home I looked at a review, and there it was.
Do you, before going to the movies, read a number of art critiques? This is a great method for dropping cool remarks to your friends, the problem is that after that you will see the movie through the filters of the people who wrote the reviews. An alternative is to simply go and allow the film to smash into your emotions through your senses. If you don’t like what you get, you can stand up, stumble out in the darkness, clean the dust off your soul and take a walk.
In the situation mentioned it was quite amazing to see that my friends (who belonged to the cream of the intellectual community) do not trust their own judgement. They do not trust their tastes or emotions. Instead of paying attention to what is being revealed by the film, they are hanging on the word of some authority. More than that: they don’t know what they like. They are expecting a nod from some guru to say “Yes, this has artistic value and the underlying message is really blablabla.”
Kurosawa Akira: Joyimbo (1961)
True, humans are social creatures. I don’t think we could or wanted to be completely independent of the influence of the surrounding culture, the age that we live in. Some folks prepare kale stew, others bird’s nest soup or fried locusts. But allow me to decide if I prefer brown locusts or green ones. I don’t want to glance at the medicine man while tasting to proclaim the Truth.
Lately I have been meeting more and more people who had been diagnosed with ADHD, narcissism, dyslexia or some other mental or emotional condition. Even more people have “discovered” the symptoms of some syndrome in themselves. Sometimes I feel like being in an East European hospital where patients, not having anything better to do, are boasting with how many operations and cases of medical malpractice they had. Blood pressure and blood sugar are not trendy any more, the hits are various learning and coping disabilities. If you can’t display at least some dysgraphia or dyscalculia you are almost suspect. What could this guy be hiding? A nice case of Asperger’s syndrome, on the other hand, almost gives you social status.
What’s more, sticking labels on others or ourselves is increasingly presented as a good thing. As if your individuality would consist of Officially Recognised Faults. A few more steps in this direction and you’re discovering that “you were born with the wrong body”. (This bottomless pit is to be explored in a later post.) People almost relax when they are diagnosed with some ailment. “Now at least I know what’s wrong with me.”
There’s a fascinating book, unfortunately only available in Hungarian, called Gyógyító szavak — hipnotikus nyelvi minták transzban és ébren (Healing Words — Hypnotic Language Patterns in Trance and Waking Life). The author gives a brilliant elucidation about the consequences of negative labels, thought to be scientific, that are stuck on people by certain professions. I don’t want to repeat all that but I do want to call attention to the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect. And, just because something has been put into Latin or Greek words, it can still be silly. Not only in the sense that it doesn’t apply to you but also in the sense of this kind of thinking causing damage.
If you exercise a muscle for a long time, it will be strong. If a society exercises its mind on different forms of weakness for decades, then its weakness muscle will be strong. This is a funny way of putting it, but the process works something like that. Your mind is not a camera recording things that exist by themselves. Your mind is an active apparatus that determines your reality. I don’t know if we can influence the weather with our minds but we can certainly influence our mental and emotional states. Certain attitudes will lock doors forever while others will open them wide. Searching for more and more complex problems in ourselves will not lead to health. Health is achieved by focusing on healing, wholeness, paths to well-being.
In the heyday of television transmission errors were frequent. When this happened, the following message appeared on your screen: “The problem is not in your TV set.” If we must make diagnoses we can ascertain that it is society at this moment that often exhibits the symptoms of ADHD, narcissism, or psychopathy. Even a few decades back it was a lot easier to concentrate, human relations were more whole, we paid more attention to each other. There was more trust, tranquility, positive visions of the future, harmony. If the image is sometimes distorted on your set, you should know that your device is good, it’s indicating perfectly well that something is off in the world of people.
I think we all sense the problems, which then we tend to blame on a symptom or an element; a phenomenon, a policy, a politician, or, in many cases, ourselves. Why don’t I live my dream life? What’s wrong with me for not having enough blonde hair, orgasms, Nobel prizes, or goldfish walkers? I haven’t saved a damned species all week! I’ve been meditating for over an hour, where’s the samadhi? Why doesn’t this newsletter have a hundred times more readers? I always thought I was a flop, but now I know: I have TOAD (Transcendentally Obstinate Attainment Deficiency). It’s a developmental disorder: someone raised an eyebrow when my mum was pregnant with me. (Sharing this post is still OK, here’s a nice button for you:)
Our self-flagellation is then exploited by a whole flock of vultures. One of the main tricks of consumer society is to create dissatisfaction with yourself. Whole industries (the cosmetics industry, for example) live from setting impossible standards, letting you discover that you don’t live up to them, then selling you something that’s supposed to make up for your deficiency.
If you are anxious about the state of affairs, you are right. Modern civilization really is in a crisis. And we cannot restore it with our existing institutions the same way we cannot lift ourselves by our hair. In many cases “expertise” is what leads us to a dead end because the solution is not in the details — what we need is a paradigm shift. Private cars with combustion engines have been perfected for over a century. We’ve created sophisticated machines that rob us of space, serenity, air and are the leading cause of death among the young population. What happens when all those tremendous resources of money, energy and knowledge that had been put into improving cars get channeled into developing some better way of transportation?
In order for this to happen we first need to get away from our present ways of operating. Instead of watching the reactions of the Great Wise Ones, the Authorities or the Cool People, we need to begin to pay attention to our inner voice and intuition. To get real, lasting solutions requires brave minds and fresh attitudes — fortunately people are very creative beings. And, as long as we allow our inner capabilities to manifest, a lot of processes run very well by themselves .
Source: Julio César García on Pixabay
Learning languages is like that. Children never look at a grammar table and still speak in grammatical sentences. When you let go of the methods that you had been tortured with at school (arising from misunderstanding about how language works) and treat new languages the way you treated your first one, you’ll pick them up easily. Everyone is talented in learning languages, this capacity happens to be genetic with humans. A great author has written an amazing book about how to do just that. (All you need to do is shape up your Hungarian, the rest will be easy.)
The main message is: relax. The world is fine and you are also fine. It is only human society that is looking for the right path and the solution is somewhere inside us, all of us, together. We don’t dare to say out loud that civilization is wrecked because then… Oh, my god. We’ve been advertising to ourselves for centuries what a wonderful place we’ve created. In the meantime we exerminated all other societies. What shall we do now?
The first step, like in any situation, is confidence. If we approach things with the conviction that we can solve them, then we can solve them. You need to know inside that you are OK. Even if you do something a little differently from others you can still achieve the same results. You can learn, concentrate, speak, read, do math, be emphatic with others. If you want, you can change your behavior. What do you think happens every night in your dreams? The human nervous system is an adaptable, self-healing, creative construction that is also connected to the wisdom of the greater universe. You are allowed to think for yourself. You are allowed to trust your tastes, feelings, intuition. We are creatures that have been perfected for four thousand million years. Do you know how much time that is? Where would we be now if we weren’t functioning properly?
The world is okay. You are okay. Believe in yourself more, darn it!
“You’re fine… You’re fine… You’re fine… You’re fine… You’re fine… You’re fine!”