Are You ‘Chwoking’ the Fun Out of Life?
The more you know, the more you can define things, and that’s not necessarily a good thing…
My name is Adam, I’m a man, I’m straight, I’m 40, my main love language is ‘acts of service’, my attachment style is primarily secure, my purpose can be summarised as ‘realising potential’, camaraderie is extremely important to me and my anxiety triggers are ‘control’ and ‘fear of abandonment’…
The first four definitions were relatively easy to figure out. The latter took time and they are the tip of the iceberg to knowing oneself, being conscious, and ‘awake’.
Observation + acceptance
My cousin said to me recently, ‘I enjoyed your last article, but you think too much at times’.
He’s got a point and I’m okay with it. I do overthink at times but it’s because I love psychology and I’ve accepted that once you’ve taken a step into your own rabbit hole, thinking a lot is par for the course.
It’s through thinking, observing, understanding, and in turn, accepting, I’ve been able to free myself from the prison of overwhelming anxiety bouts. I still get triggered of course but having a conscious understanding of myself, what’s happening in my body, what I can do to find balance, and a language to say how I’m feeling prevents me from spilling over into an anxiety spiral.
Having said all that, my cousin’s comment was timely because the day before I’d thought to myself, ‘Is my thirst for knowledge yet another form of control?’. In a way, I believe it can be.
When you know a lot about yourself and how people operate, you earn a toolbox which makes it easier to understand your own behaviour and not repeat past patterns. Which is game-changing. However, there is a point where knowing stuff tips the scales too far the other way and back into control.
Keeping the scales level
For every word we use we have prejudices towards them — we can’t help it. The more we know about a word the more restrictions seem to pop up which causes us to have to think about whether we should or shouldn’t use it at any given moment. Which, in a lot of cases, is a very good thing. The debate gets interesting, however, when people fall into the unnerving area of not saying how they feel for fear of making a mistake. I’ve been there!
A main ‘tool’ of anxiety acceptance is space, time, and non-attachment. The last point is the key to keeping the scales level. Attachment, in a spiritual context, refers to our Ego clinging onto and believing something e.g. a thought.
The list I started the article with is good to know, it’s been incredibly useful in sorting my shit out and has had a positive impact in my life. But, even with positive knowledge, one needs to be mindful.
Attaching to definitions
Definitions, although useful, when attached to as if they are 100% fact may become constricting and can choke the magic and most importantly fun out of life.
To illustrate this, a friend of mine recently went on a date with a guy who she’d met at a festival a year before. Their first meeting was brief. Nothing sexual happened, they didn’t even exchange names, but from the sounds of it, it was sensual and as romantic as hell. In short, they had chemistry.
When they bumped into each other this year, at another festival, it was like moths to a flame. Cher-ching! Please put your seats in the upright position and stow your tables, we are ready for take-off!
They went on a date and by all accounts their suspicions were correct. When horizontal they were electric together, open, respectful, and went with how they felt. However, in the morning, when standing, not so much. Things felt awkward but neither said how they felt for risk of upsetting the other. It turned out that even though the night before great, it was intense and one wanted some space and the other wanted to leave to get some space (they both wanted the same thing!).
Listening to their explanations of what they thought might have happened — and I got both sides of the story — they knew themselves so well that they both could give a play-by-play description of what was happening at every moment, what their love language was up to, how their attachment style was dealing its cards, etc.
I reflected on what they said (a good practice), and thought, ‘That sounds like me!’. It was a lightbulb moment… Their ability to label and define themselves, but then attach to those labels, talked them into believing things weren’t ‘right’.
All definitions are potential walls
As I said, knowing your toolkit is mostly a good thing but not if, by dogmatically attaching yourself and conforming to the definitions and labels of who you think you are, it chokes the potential of something great.
The list I started this article with is an accurate snapshot of who I was at a given moment. I might still be as the list describes today but the problem lies in making it an automatic response — thinking the outcomes of the methods of assessment (the list) are who a person is and that is who they’ll always be.
People use definitions for one thing and that is efficient communication. Trying not to get too Quantum and Matrix about it, a spoon isn’t actually a spoon, it’s the sound humans have created to describe what we know of as a spoon. In French, they use ‘cuillère’. A different sound for the same thing. It’s okay to define a spoon as a spoon because they aren’t as complex as humans. Plus, if we didn’t use short definitions for things any form of communication would take all day!
Humans work on so many levels. We are constantly changing and growing due to our environment. If we attach, in turn, conform to any definitions of ourselves (negative or positive) we bypass the possibility for change, in turn, growth and that is where life’s beauty lies. Think about it, technically we are simply particles floating through space — just like the spoon. It’s only conforming to definitions that puts up walls that limit us or the possibility of something.
My friend said, “Lying down it was ace, I’d have totally done it again and again.” Now, it doesn’t guarantee it’ll last and I know relationships aren’t all about sex but let’s be honest, it’s important, a very fun place to start, and does highlight a chemical connection. A lot of dating doesn’t get off the ground because people don’t know enough about themselves, what makes them tick, and how to communicate what they are feeling but the flip side can also choke growth too (and not just in romantic relationships).
My friend’s and her partner’s bodies reacted well to each other and by the sounds of it, they clicked on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual level too. But, by unpacking every last detail and rigidly attaching to definitions of who they think they are, they managed to talk themselves out of living the experience of the possibility of what might be. Had they slowed down, listened to what they felt (not thought), and avoided reaching for a definite yes or no by allowing a bit of time and breathing space, things could (and they still might) grow between them.
The difficulty with time and space is, when it’s given, nothing is certain and it’s the feeling of uncertainty which humans don’t like.
As with a lot of things in life, I’ve discovered that the word ‘balance’ is vital. To be present (a goal of a lot of spirituality) requires being mindful but, being overly mindful, you gain the ability to understand yourself so well that you can end up confined and afraid. Knowing why you’ve made mistakes in the past and analysing, using ‘conscious language’ to highlight where and when they’ve happened again, is useful to not repeat patterns of behaviour but it can talk yourself out of the moment where the risk of making mistakes (and also having a lot of fun) might be happening I.e. the present.
The lightbulb moment for me was because, through listening to my friend and what my cousin said, a lot of what I’d read became aligned. A big, big, key to spirituality is acceptance. Acceptance that who you are, where you are, and what you have is enough. But, let’s not forget that to be human is to accept that it’s very okay to make mistakes and not know stuff. In fact, once you’ve learned enough about yourself to (re)trust your instincts, the less you think and the more you feel the better.
The past feels secure because it’s happened, it’s fact. We are living in very uncertain times (I mean, woah!) but the future is always uncertain. We don’t like the feeling of uncertainty, so we look to the past (and attach/conform to definitions) to try and predict the future to make it safe. In doing so, no matter how conscious and ‘awake’ you are, you take yourself out of the moment for fear of making a mistake. In my experience, that can chwoke the mystery, in turn, fun out of life.