Dhammalogue no. 2

Continuing our Dhammalogue from last week, this week the topic is hiding places and inconvenient truths
Dhammalogue no. 2
Igor: Hello Jenny.

Jenny: Hi dear.

I: Last week you were talking about how you felt you had 'run out of hiding places', what do you mean by that?

J: The hiding places I was referring to were all the ways that I had used to cover up the fact that I was messed up. The fact that I was a good dancer and had acheived some success in my field sustained my illusion, being an artist allowed me for many years to deny my insecurity. As an artist it was OK, even encouraged, to be moderately crazy. Travelling around the world another good example. Not staying in one place too long was a perfect way to justify my restlessness and even made it 'cool' somehow. Don't get me wrong, artistery and globetrotting are wonderful things to do, but when your compulsions and you feeling bad about yourself continuously get swept under the rug by being loved on stage, or by fantasizing about your next destination, and those bad compulsive thoughts just keep accumulating, there is something you are not seeing, or are unwilling to address. Smoking, over or undereating, casual sex, television, shopping and obesssive reading were other hiding places I used and overused. It just got to the point where none of those well tested distractions worked. They simply did not provide relief anymore. Instead I had to look at what they were distracting me from...

I: It's a tricky thing to recognize the moment when a pleasure becomes an escape route. Usually it takes a long time until the repetition of the same pattern rings the alarm, right? We do tend to squeeze the lemon way longer after it run out of juice. But at the same time, the fact that we are creatures of habit is essential for us to develop skills and emotional bonds, practice makes perfect, as they say. The whole survival of the species is based on this. Is there a way to recognize the difference between a healthy habit and a hiding place before we hit the wall?

J: Healthy, is subject to interpretation and personal perception so it's not possible to find a divide beween unhealthy and healthy habits that is applicable to all. The examples I gave, travelling, obsessive reading, casual sex etc. were things I used to hide or distract myself from dealing with my issues, but to take those activities and deem them unhealthy would be ludicrous. It's more about the intention behind your actions. What creates the habit. If anytime you feel uncomfortable with a thought or feeling, you start roaming around the fridge for mouth stuffing, I would say it's a cover up, a hiding place. If you start thinking up reasons for why watching Downtown Mad Entourage is is more important than dealing with a conflict or another uncomfortable aspects of your relationship, it's more of an escape route than for the simple viewing pleasure. And the intention behind the action may not be the same everytime, so to abruptly stop or say never again to anything is just a surface solution. That charge that makes you take the compulsive or habitual actions remain, so even though you manage to quit you will soon find a substitute. The sum of all vices remain constant, just the dressing changes. Awareness. The truth of what is really going can only be uncovered by awareness.

I: No magical recipe for all. That's a bummer, my dear teacher, but I guess it's true, one of those inconvenient truths that you were talking about the other day. Which makes me wonder, if we understand awareness as the bright light of day that allows us to see clear, how come we often perceive the truths that come from it as inconvenient?

J: Very often the fabric of our worldly personality has been unconsciously and consciously created by what our peers, eg. society, culture, media, has deemed acceptable, and that which we show to others is only the reflection of what fits in to that frame. Since we all want to feel loved and approved of by those same peers, the feelings and thoughts that are deviant from the frame of what we've been taught and hence perceive as acceptable, makes us feel ashamed and gulity. So we censor what is brewing in the back burner of our mind and heart. Feeling like there is no place for them in the rule book and that the outrageousness of our humanity will be rejected by our environment. We shut our closet full of swearwords, secrets and politically incorrect judgements, because to open that door could mean that we'll no longer feel that love and approval that we so desperately need. The fuller truth that awareness inevitably shows us, feels inconvenient since it may contradict the more easily digested picture that we've painted of ourselves.

I: I have painted a rather convenient picture of myself going surfing today, do you mind if we continue with this next week?

J: Of course not, I'm going Xmas shopping, one of my favourite pleasures! See you for dinner, honey.


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