For a long time I have thought about this problem that affects every person in the developed world and only recently I am moving to explore that these new revelations are the cause for the greatest epidemic affecting the whole world. This global affliction of the developed world is our feeling of Worthlessness. This manifests in countless ways, destroying people’s lives through self loathing, a lack of self belief and suspicion of the world around, to name only a few. We then see this in destructive behaviours, such as drug abuse, infidelity, suicide, etc. I originally thought this came from a lack of love but then I had to wonder where did that come from and I believe that I have stumbled upon the path to help lead us to the core of this problem. The Lack of Self.
The Sense of Self
Without a sense of self, we have no firm ground to stand on, no strength of wisdom to drawn from in times of need. We look to others to fill the void of true identity in order that we can know who we are. Often when we find people we take that this feeling of “filling the void of self” as such an intense relief, we think we are in love. But this relief is short-lived, because the person who has filled us up falters due to the fact that they also are searching for self. They were not able to satisfy every whim that the self demanded in order to feel fully valued. We will later consider that this is because the self is continually looking outward for validation. This leaves the self feeling angry and despondent that this person left us feeling empty or invalidated. All people want is to be seen but how can we be when who we are, our core self, is vapor? And so this leads us to the question where has this epidemic started from? Well it all begins at the edge of childhood.
Child vs Adult
In childhood, lives the child mind. This is true for boy and girl. Here curiosity and wonder live as we explore and learn, not only about the world but also, about our selves in the world. We are working to form who we are as we pummel and push ourselves through life in these formative years. Childhood requires external stimulation whereas adulthood can take from internal reflection. This is because adults have determined a sense of self. Without the sense of self the child mind is left with a deafening silence and looks to the outside to distract it from the silence in the form of tv, sex and drugs, to name a few. Through the external activities the child is free from the silence and the void of self. Whereas the adult self can go inside and reflect on the self. It can use the self as a source of strength and a spring of wisdom in order that it may truly attain the moment and recognize the truth of their happiness.
The Villains of Happiness
Epicurus, a 4th century BC Greek philosopher spoke of happiness as 3 things: community, freedom to pursue your passion, and space to reflect and grow the psyche. The media panders to the child in advertising using the first 2 elements so that we are able to be constantly stimulated and not need to reflect on the self. Reflection is not conducive to media stimulation and therefore our child audience is missing a great opportunity to explore the self. We never see advertising marketed to the child mind to stop and contemplate on self but rather to accrue more friends and do what they want to do (only the first two epicurean parameters of happiness) Additionally, a stigma has begun to form around the person that spends time by themselves. They are anti-social. They are introverts. They are depressed. Are they plotting to harm others?
The Hero’s Journey from Child to Adult
The transition of child to adult mind often requires the child to complete a hero’s journey that begins their move into their adult mind. It is when they die to the security of their self as the coddled dependent and rather they embrace their journey as the solo adult. It is at this point the person now begins to realize that they are the master of their lives and are willing to take sole responsibility for it, without resentment, but with unencumbered love. Through life we have countless opportunities to die to our old selves and embrace the new. In marriage. In parenthood. In our careers. We must constantly surrender our ego and let it die in order that we allow the ever maturing adult mind to shine through. The child needs to push to its limits, feel the fear, and then continue to strive onward. This takes courage because we face our biggest enemy – our scared child selves. The child self that is telling us to go back home and try to be safe. But we must push passed these limitations of the child. We must let that self die. We must be willing to get burnt by the dragon in order to defeat it. And on the other side of our quest lies the treasure of learning and attaining our true sense of self. We see this over and over in the entrepreneur, the selfless mother, the devoted husband.
The Adult life
How do we find the courage to push passed these limits? We push past our limitations to take responsibility for what we are not responsible for. We pick a dream that is bigger than our life. A dream that takes more than one lifetime to complete. When you find those dreams, you grab onto them and you ride them down the rabbit hole to wherever they may lead you because once on this journey you know you will have travelled a life well lived. So be brave. Embrace your responsibility. Believe in yourself. Take help from your friends. Follow your dreams. And look inward to learn about who you REALLY are. When we take the time to live these simple rules we begin to open ourselves to the wisdom that exists within our adult self and we will begin to truly know ourselves as whole and worthy people. We will begin to accept and love ourselves. And the epidemic that has left us defeated and deflated will be replaced by a global community of conscientious adults that live and learn from love, for themselves, from others and from the gifts of the world around.