You Aren't A Fraud
Lesser now than ever, yet still sometimes, I’m beset by periods of destructive self-doubt, abnormal vulnerability, and a general feeling that everyone will figure out I am the absolute fraud that I feel like in such moments… fallible, weak, dishonorable, and not worth the effort to know or care about, a scared little boy hiding inside of a middle aged body. It’s as if nothing I’ve done has mattered when compared to my many mistakes, and nothing I will do will ever make up for the ones in my past or those yet to come.
If the many billions of dollars Americans spend on mental health care and mind-altering substances - legal or otherwise - is any indication, I am not alone in this. Letting these feelings go unchecked by logic or feeding them a “bad diet” of self-care will, at least in my case, result in a downward spiral, an ever-darkening, blustering storm.
Not to toot my own horn here* (*proceeds to do just that which he said he would not do), but I’ve recently become considerably more proficient at nipping these thoughts in the bud, so the storm blows past before it intensifies. In my last post, I spoke of the importance of meditative breathing, which has been adopted and rebranded by the Tough Persons of the World (see also: People in Tactical T-Shirts with Flags On One Sleeve) as “combat breathing”. Whatever-the-F you want to call it, it works. Do it. Here’s the second part…
I once heard an old Buddhist say, “Write different movies in your head.” It was mentioned as a remedy to aberrant thoughts such as those I’ve listed above. It didn’t really strike me at the time how brilliant and simple an idea it is, and it recently occurred to me that I had been doing just that, unknowingly, as of late. The concept of framing negative thoughts, feelings and experiences in a different light in an effort to find the good part, as opposed the knee-jerk, emotional reaction, is one common in an array of religions/philosophies, including Stoicism, which I have found to be nothing short of wonderful in its application to modern human problems.
If you need a place to start working on this, and sitting quietly while concentrating on one’s breathing sounds like the “most-boringest thing ever,” because you are an Overly Caffeinated Person, I recommend (in addition to cutting back on the caffeine, which I know won’t happen) going on a walk, with or without headphones, listening to the sounds of the surrounding world or your favorite songs, being silent or singing along. Pick a direction, a vague destination, and set out as fast or slowly as you want. Do this for long enough and what bothered you when you set out most likely won’t bother you as much when you reach your destination.
It was on a long walk in San Francisco wherein I distinctly remember changing my internal narrative of the scared little boy to be one of wonder, love and joy. He is my Billy Batson (Shazam was rad, see it). It is the child in me, who loves to run, jump, play, ride, laugh, explore, protect, serve, smile, be moved to tears, look up at the night sky and wonder how far it stretches, and be near the people I love.
For years I looked inward and saw my little copilot as a weakness. All along, he was my greatest asset, my soul laid bare.