Roughly a week ago, I came to the realization that my inner light was depleted. I've been increasingly negative and pessimistic. I've been self-critical in a bad way; I keep dwelling on things that I've done wrong or might have done wrong. I've been over critical of myself in social situations: I see myself as too talkative or opinionated and I kick myself over bad phrasing or poorly contextualized statements. I muck up stories that were once funny, and I end up playing devil's advocate awkwardly. Academically, I'm in a self-esteem low and have been focusing on how much I don't know. But then I end up being overly academic in other situations. At church, I've been paying attention to the statements I disagree with rather than picking out the good things. Like I said in my last post, it's just so much easier to focus on the things that need improvements, and this has been going on in all areas of my life. In fact, I've been feeling a little bit of this breed of pessimism about that post: I didn't articulate my points well and I was too negative, blah blah blah. It's sort of a downward spiral. I'm negative, so I feel bad, so I'm negative...
Just coming to this realization has helped a lot. I still slip, but when I do, I just have to let it go. If people take things the wrong way, oh well. I'll do my best to both honest and loving and everything will sort itself out. I was trying to come up with things to lift myself up: meditation, gardening, miscellaneous recreation, but it was just a shift of mind more than anything else.
This week I re-read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It reminded me that people tend to be too self-focused and that I am no one. I reminded me to try and see the word as it really is, and that I'll never be able to see and understand everything, at least not mortally. It taught me that nobody should be able to take away my joy. It taught me that focusing on the negative is really just focusing on the self, and it reminded me of my mantra to be the person you want to be, right now. A quote:
"Hell is a state of mind--ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heaven. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains."I had a taste of Heaven once. I was sitting next to someone I didn't like and didn't want to be with, hearing him go on about things I didn't care about. To escape, I started thinking of the vastness of space and suddenly, I felt an incredible about of love. For the person I didn't like, for everyone at the table, for the world. We were all God's children, we were all equal, and hating anyone was silly. The feeling of joy lasted for hours, maybe even days. But in time I stopped feeding it and it faded.
I got a bit of it back this week, and the Lewis book was mostly responsible. Writing that last post, though, was like throwing water on the flame. While honesty is important, I think that I need to focus on goodness for a bit, until my inner light is strong enough. With a sense of joy, things will take their real form, and thus my honest criticisms will be distilled (e.g. into what needs to be done for change) instead of occurring for enjoying the process of criticism.
The journey will certainly be interesting, but ideally, I'll never lose my joy, my Heaven, for too long ever again.