[ 7 min read ]
Diary of an artist, Thursday, July 9, 2020
Woke up 3:45 am
I also think that you can help people by comparing their predicament / suffering not to the predicament / suffering of others (because, as I said yesterday, being inconsistent they will hate you for it), but by comparing their predicament / suffering to THEIR potential predicament / suffering. Which means that you show them / point to an alternative scenario which could have played itself out (was just as possible as the scenario which actually played itself out). Which by no means was out of this world. It was something which can happen to anybody — it’s just a matter of your bad luck / an arbitrary way of the world.
By doing it that way you don’t compare their predicament / suffering to someone else’s real / actual predicament / suffering, so they can’t tell you (and themselves), that they don’t give a fuck about it, because they care the most about their lives. Or at least they can’t do it just as easily as they could if you had compared their predicament / suffering to the predicament / suffering of others. You compare their predicament / suffering to THEIR potential predicament / suffering.
Will they try to defend their right to feel bad and complain about their current / actual predicament / suffering? You bet! I mean who doesn’t like to be able to play the victim, right? I don’t, but I know that there are people who like. So this person can tell you that he or she also doesn’t give a shit about what could be. Life is what it is, not what it could be, right? We care about the real things in our lives, not the imaginary ones.
Really? Is that what we do? We only care about the real things in life? We don’t invent reasons to feel bad? We don’t try to interpret the reality of the situation in a manner which creates our victimhood?
I’d say we totally do that. I mean not all people, but certainly a certain category of people. And there are certain types who will do it all the time. They will create in their heads all those bullshit sad stories about how they’re doomed in life, or how they’re the most unlucky people in the world, or how nothing compares to their suffering / pain. And they will not want to hear anything to the contrary! Why? Because they are convinced (and perhaps someone also strengthened this conviction in them — someone who thinks he or she knows how to deal with such situations) that yes, they totally have the right to feel bad about their lives. That yes, it’s totally up to them how they will interpret things. That yes, it’s fine to feel bad even about the most ridiculous things. That they’re not unreasonable. That there is nothing wrong about their assessment. That they don’t make any mistake in how they view the world.
I think it’s actually better to err on the side of pointing to people how they’re making things much worse in their heads, because that’s exactly what they do! Not all of them, of course, but the majority.
I’m not talking about the truly tragic (objectively / obviously tragic) events — like a sudden accident which cripples you or someone in your family for life, tragic death of your child, or spouse, or sibling, some traumatic experience (war, terrorist attack, hostage situation, kidnaping, etc.), the news that you or someone you care about has some terminal disease and might not live much longer. Those and similar situations ARE NOT what this post is about. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about a bad grade, the fact that someone dumped someone, or that you can’t go to college, or that your parents can’t afford something and your friends’ parents can, or that your child doesn’t talk to you (currently), or that someone didn’t invite you to the party, or that you didn’t win some dumb award, or that someone wasn’t fair, or that someone said something bad about you or ridiculed you, or that you’ve lost some money, or that you’ve made an unfortunate choice, or that your parents are trying to control your life, or that your parents don’t understand you, or that your parents don’t like your boyfriend, or that your best friend is no longer your best friend, or that you think that you are ugly, or that you think that you are worthless, or that you think that you will not amount to anything in your life, or you wish you had more money, or you wish more people understood you, or you wish you fitted in more, etc. Those are dramas I’m talking about! Because those are the things we usually make much, much worse in our heads. Those are not the situations where you’ve actually been through some truly traumatic event and you don’t need to make it bad, because it’s bad enough without your interference (your child felt bad, was taken to the hospital and died there, you have been raped or kidnapped, you went to war, etc.).
We could also debate where is the line between the truly tragic (objectively / obviously tragic) events and the things which are not truly tragic (objectively / obviously tragic) events but something we dramatize in our heads. I think that we can spare ourselves such debate, because I guess in most cases we all know when something is and when something isn’t a truly tragic (objectively / obviously tragic) event, and the grey / potentially disputed area actually isn’t so much of a problem.
One could argue that no one can (should) impose on us his or her understanding of a truly tragic (objectively / obviously tragic) event, and people should be free to interpret any event as they please, so it’s possible that for someone the fact that for example someone who was this person’s best friend no longer is is the end of the world. And we should not deny that person the right to feel that way. Yes, denying someone the right to feel a certain way is not a good idea. That’s true. But leaving it that way (not pointing to the fact that what happens in this person’s head plays a dominant role here, not questioning the rationale of this particular end of the world) is not a good idea either. Saying only to that person that he or she can totally feel that way (respecting this person’s right to feel a certain way) won’t help such person much. Especially if you consider that six months from now the fact that he or she didn’t win some dumb award will very likely become the next end of the world for that person.
Someone has to (should) point to what this person does to him- or herself, by having these thoughts. And of course it doesn’t necessarily need to happen through pointing to the fact that some real (and not only imaginary) tragedy could beset him or her, although I don’t see anything wrong with that approach (if it’s done in an empathic way). It can also happen through explaining how this person’s head has a habit of taking all those small things and then blowing them out of proportion. That the real (not imaginary) problem is that he or she creates imaginary dramas in his or her head, by finding such angle which makes it super easy each time any hurdle appears on his or her path.
I think that merely saying “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now. Remember, I’m there for you if you need me.” pales in comparison to saying this plus providing an explanation as to what has just happened in this person’s head (and what will continue to happen unless it’s resolved once and for all).
Stuff I’m currently reading:
Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare by Philip Short (on Scribd).
POPism: The Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett (on Scribd).
Audiobook: Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948 by Madeleine Albright (on Scribd).
The Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society and Its Future by Ted Kaczynski (free PDF)
Audiobook: How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship by Ece Temelkuran (on Scribd)
Audiobook: Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62 by Frank Dikötter (on Scribd)
Audiobook: Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine by Barry Strauss (on Scribd)
Kafka: The Early Years by Reiner Stach (on Scribd)
YouTube videos and movies (since my last diary entry):
The Sinner: Cora: “Part II” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part III” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part IV” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part V” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part VI” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part VII” (on Netflix)
The Sinner: Cora: “Part VIII” (on Netflix)
SDZ66/3 Cejrowski o “drugiej fali” 2020/7/6 Radio WNET
Jordan Peterson — Donald Trump’s IQ
SDZ66/2 Cejrowski o “debatach” i fajerwerkach SDZ2020/07/06 Radio WNET
Ks. Oko ostrzega. Czytanie „Tygodnika Powszechnego” grozi utratą wiary
Music for this writing session: Frederic Chopin (on Spotify).