Why do we feel like we should be able to be happy?
We should be able to pick ourselves up on our own?
Why do we get so scared of “negativity” and what Buddhism teaches us is the real way to deal with it?
My recent experience on the ferry from Macau to Hong Kong led me to the answer…
0:11 – Trying To Be Happy While In Hong Kong
1:15 – Just Feel What You Are Feeling
2:25 – Why We Fake Optimism and the Buddhist Secret
3:05 – Why This is Huge If You Have Depression
3:56 – We Need to Fire Our Heroes
4:55 – How To Text Someone To Get Help
6:13 – Example of a Bad Way To Ask For Help
I wake up with an itchy throat.
I feel a little sluggish and tired, almost as if I am fighting something.
I get on the ferry from Hong Kong to Macao. I close my eyes for the hour long ride and arrive.
As the day goes on, I begin to fake optimism. You know, we are supposed to always be excited and full of energy.
I want to add to the experience around me. Add value for others. I don’t want to feel down right now…
The day keeps going and it is ok. I don’t feel any better though, and I begin to feel worse.
“No I’m not getting sick, I’m in Hong Kong! I’m healthy.”
Am I getting a little depressed? No. Gotta resist that. That is not possible. I’m the owner of this website, I dominated depression a long time ago. I am too strong for that.
As I get on the ferry back to Hong Kong, I plug in my headphones and an old song comes on that brings up memories.
I start to feel sadness and begin to fight it once again…
Then I just take a breath in and let go. I’ve already learned this lesson before. Feelings are just feelings. Things just are. Miss that, and you miss out on beauty.
My immune system is down and I’m struggling. The feelings overwhelm me and I smile. I feel sadness, but I feel beautiful sadness. Memories of the past, memories of my long lost brother and friend suddenly return. The loss in life. The fact that there is suffering.
I feel the other spectrum of life. I accept this feeling and go with it.
And the beauty of it comes to me.
Despite being the only one who speaks English on the entire ferry my loneliness disappears.
I accept myself and feel fulfilled. I realize I need rest and allow myself to just sit and rest. I let the feelings guide me to write this post.
Why Do We Hide Our Feelings?
There’s something weird about vulnerability.
In the Western world we promote happiness, optimism, showing a sense of “success” at all times.
We don’t want to be weak. Maybe we showed our feelings to someone in the past and they hurt us. We learned that if we are a little bit fake people aren’t rejecting us, but our image that we project. We feel safer that way.
When someone has depression, which is already stigmatized in society, it makes it even harder to be vulnerable about their feelings. What is looked more down upon than someone who admits to feeling powerless and hopeless?
The only problem with that is you can’t truly grow until you face those feelings head on. Once you let them pass through you and see them for what they are, that is when they dissipate.
There’s No Such Thing As Negativity, Just Negative Negativity
One day I listened to a Buddhist monk give a talk. What she said has stuck with me ever since.
People were asking her questions. One lady said, “Sometimes I just feel so down. I don’t know what to do. I shouldn’t feel negative feelings like that.”
To which the Buddhist monk responded, “There isn’t negativity, just negative negativity.”
The next day I woke up, and i had a lot of tension. I opened up the Tao Te Ching and read:
“There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.”
Oh wait, I almost forgot. We are all human. We all feel these feelings. There is nothing wrong with being depressed. Again, there is nothing wrong with being depressed.
The paradox is to get rid of the negative feelings, we have to feel them. If you resist them, they will persist, and you’ll feel shame for having them.
Once you accept them and let them run their course, they will dissipate.
There is no such thing as negativity. Just negative negativity.
We Need to Fire Our Heroes
One of the strongest and most progressed human beings once told me he had to fire all his heroes.
I asked, “What do you mean?”
“All those guys in the movies. I had to fire them.”
“Yes. I had to fire the idea that I can do everything on my own.”
This is coming from one of the strongest people I know. When you talk to him it feels like you are talking to a human being who is so rooted in his confidence and humility that nothing could touch him. Yet he said the key to his success was allowing himself to feel his feelings and ask for help.
Sometimes you just gotta ask for help.
Process of Asking for Help
You need to ask for exactly what you need.
Do not text:
“Dude people are pissing me off. They just ignore me”
“I feel lonely. I can’t seem to connect with people lately. I just need to talk to someone for a bit if that’s cool.”
Don’t kitty corner around the issue. Just be direct.
Here is an example of a conversation I just had with an old friend:
HIM: “I don’t see the point anymore”
ME: “What’s going on?”
HIM: “Nah I don’t want to unload on you man, that’s not cool.”
ME: “But I know you want to ;)”
HIM: “No that would be unfair”
Even when I told him I would listen, he still didn’t tell me what was going on and what he needed.
Although I genuinely wanted to help him, he prejudged that I didn’t, and he stopped himself from receiving help. And what is sad is how many times I’ve done that to myself.
People want to help you. They really do. And having feelings is alright.
Asking For Help And Feeling Your Feelings is Courageous
There is nothing more badass than knowing your boundaries, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses, and knowing when you need assistance.
Instead of resisting so bad that you are starting to feel like crap, just accept it. “I’m starting to feel like crap. I probably need to take it easy today. You want to go to the movies?”
People don’t have to go to the movies with you. But this approach will completely change your conversations with people. Be completely direct with them and tell them how they can help you.
It just might save your life.
Oh, and don’t believe the hype in the movies about the main character dominating the world all on his own ;).