Tag Archives: Sigmund Freud

Chapter 1: Learning How to Live Well

Understanding the way the mind works is to understand the reality that we make for ourselves.

Library science is my profession, but learning how to live well is the mission.  And I don’t mean monetarily well.  We can’t truly help others until we find the still point within that makes it all make sense

At what point does a strong sense of Self become egotism rather than protection against Hamlet’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”?  Self-confidence with humility is a boon enjoyed by so few of us—but what a joy when it visits even in fleeting moments.

A failure to view life positively is not benign.  It creates momentum, and if one doesn’t watch it, negativity will snowball to become a veritable avalanche.

We are sometimes told, “Live each day as though it were your last.”  But this is not helpful advice if one has the wrong attitude toward work—an attitude that everything should have been done yesterday maybe, if not before.

Some of the best advice in this vein I ever received was from an older and wiser family friend who reminded me, as I embarked on a new job that entailed establishing a middle school library, “Remember that you don’t have to do it all on the first day.”

A recurring theme in my journal is the need to enjoy all the moments of my life.  If you are doing something (or failing to) that makes you crabby, you are yourself ruining the very essence of living.  If life is not lived in daily moments, it is not “lived” at all.

Journal writing is an invaluable tool for the centering of one’s life and work.  Once I went for 19 months with only two entries.  It is instructive that the last entry before starting this dry period was entitled “New Centering.”  I had reached a plateau and was willing quietly to rest there for awhile.

Creative assessment of real desires can help bring them about.  But too much introspection can become retreating, and this fuels neurosis.

On making good decisions:  “I’m feeling reassured that I will know the right decision to make if I pay attention to my nocturnal dreams, keep a positive and happy outlook, and listen to my heart (i.e., the Holy Spirit dwelling within).  Psychic inclinations help, but I must check them out and not go overboard.”

When a song goes through my head, I pause to remember the lyrics.  It is a fruitful path to the unconscious.  Like a dream, the lyrics frequently take me a step deeper in my psyche.  When I found myself humming “Mona Lisa,” I had to ask the obvious question, “Am I being cold to the people in my life?”

Ego is such a powerful motivator that when it is let go, one must find a substitute worth living for.  Mine is a genuine but perhaps grandiose desire to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

But that is not the whole of it.  One still must fill countless hours with the minor chores of daily living.  One cannot always be doing great things.  And if these chores fill so many hours, can anyone say what “great” really is?

A candid personality attracts because its owner seems to have dropped—at least for our eyesight—the mask that we normally wear.

Too much talk can kill a dream rather than increase the likelihood of its coming true.  Often the words are a weak substitute for truly living an experience.  Paradoxically, excessive verbaliza- tion can be a smokescreen set up to hide one’s inner being, which we believe (inaccurately) would be worthy only of rejection if viewed without its mask.

My family doctor asked, “What are you doing for fun?”

“Everybody,” he continued, “needs something to look forward to.”

There is more common-sense emotional advice in those brief words than in most hours of psychoanalysis.

I wonder if I’ve sometimes created a tempest in a teapot out of boredom.  If I get upset about something, then I have the upset to deal with rather than the boredom.

Do I seek fear to avoid boredom?

For the anxiety-prone part of me:  “Sometimes I simply have to disengage my mind from worry.  That seems the healthiest way to live, and I have not always been able to do that.”

There is a truth about mental illness that mostly only the mentally ill see.  At the heart of a split from “reality” is a sharp glimpse, however imperfect, of Reality.  Always there is a partially formed mystic crying to get out.  Who knows but that a psychotic sufferer has opted to jump ahead by one of the most wrenching means?  Who knows what contributions the next life will bring?

Many psychotic periods are a kind of trial-by-fire to purify the soul.

Choosing a pathway without suffering may take longer, and so is it any wonder that we in our impatient world sometimes opt for the shortcut, however stigmatizing that may be?

“I think I choose sickness when I’m ready for a break from the world.”  A day after writing this, I came down with a virus that gave me a fever and mild aches for a week.

My pipe dream that I could be happy just reading all day quickly evaporated, and in its place came a great need for people, which sent me to the phone.  When I wrote those words, did I know I was getting sick, just below the surface in my unconscious mind, or was I doubly psychic (intuiting sickness and giving my reason for it)?  It is also true that I was at a turning point in my work, ready to take a new direction after finishing the tasks of the past months.  Was God trying to get my atten- tion?  It is only in retrospect that the answers to questions like these ever come.

A decision made upon facing possible illness:  “I’ve been my own worst enemy in fearing health conditions in the past, and it’s time to put faith into action and not aggravate the situation with meaningless fears.”

Recognizing that a behavior is irrational is the first step toward changing it.

On understanding the way the mind works:  “I’m realizing that my superego (as Freud would say) is very strong, even severe.  Maybe if I were more forgiving, my thoughts of what I ‘should’ do  would be less punishing.  The choice to do the loving thing is not at all coercive.”