Existential Problems

by Jeff

Since I was 20 (now 31) I've been going through an existential self analysis that pertains to this: to what extent can I take credit for anything I do...ever. I definitely have a mental illness. Some aspects resemble OCD, others Hypomania. So this adds to my confusion. I always wanted to do at least one or two "brave" or even reckless things and look back... So I've done a bunch of seemingly "brave" and stupid, reckless dangerous things throughout my life. But nothing leaves me feeling like I've accomplished anything, because I can always say- "that was the caffeine making me slightly more hypomanic (perhaps) or that was the trazodone doing the same. Or that happened because my diet wasn't so good...I was just sugar crashing." Even though I can recount moments in which I literally felt sick and went through with something anyways. Or having been even drunk (and on trazodone, presumably somewhat hypomanic at that point) feeling scared stiff when a big guy pulls a knife on a bunch of people. From a psychologists perspective- can I at least take partial credit for those moments that I practically shit myself and dove in anyways?

Ben's reply:

Ultimately, we are better off not getting overly attached to the idea that we are the "doer" of anything in life. Anytime we focus on I did this - I did that - Look what I did - we just build a bigger ego, which will eventually make you smaller and smaller, rather than expand and liberate you.

A better attitude is "I'm a co-creator of my life... a participant in this life drama" and just flow with it. It's not the meds, or the mood, or the mania or the coffee, its you yourself playing your part. Take responsibility for the roles you play, but don't mistake the show for ultimate reality. Hold it lightly. Don't take yourself too seriously. And if you put on a good show, there is nothing wrong with accepting some recognition for doing a good job. False humility is just as diminishing as false bravado. Try not to focus on the past. You will not find yourself there. Practice simple, present awareness or your life force - not analyzing, not judging, not evaluating yourself, just feeling your own energy in the moment. It's enough.

Wishing you peace,

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