I finished yesterday with reference to the delay of dealing with the problems of life and the way those problems usually end up growing and often, because of the mental strain they create, steal from our Joy.
Peck says the “inclination to ignore problems is once again a simple manifestation of an unwillingness to delay gratification.” And it makes sense – who wants to deal with a problem? – it’s generally never fun and it can be downright painful. So what do we want to do – watch a movie, or deal with that problem? Spend time with a loved one, or figure out our problem? – you get the picture. And not all of the time, but most of the time, and often after the problem has worsened, we end up being forced to confront it anyways.
So, why don’t we confront it right away? Well, why should we? Because taking the time to go through the possible pain, discomfort, or effort to solve our problem means we can stop suffering from it and get onto that Joy we were talking about. Even more importantly, dealing with situations we’d rather forget about and instead finding a solution – those are the experiences that bring real personal growth.
“When neurotics are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that they are at fault. When those with character disorders are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that the world is at fault.” – Peck
Peck went on to talk about people who were neurotic and had character disorders, mentioning that most people display traits of at least one of these conditions, if not both. As I read, it was enlightening to see the ways in which I have at times displayed these traits throughout my life. Peck says that the neurotic assumes too much responsibility while the person with a character disorder doesn’t assume enough.
The main thing though, to avoid displaying these traits is to take the time to look at your problem head on, analyze it, and honestly ask yourself what is and isn’t in your power to fix. Do it right now – think of a problem in your life . . . got it? Ok, keep that in the back of your mind.
Peck says the speech pattern of the neurotic says, “I ought to,” I should,” and “I shouldn’t.” My interpretation of this? When you’re letting yourself be neurotic, you’re not acknowledging your own power to make good choices: not acknowledging your own agency to positively affect change over the problem in some way. You’re taking the fault of a problem upon yourself even if it’s not your responsibility. You’re also often seeing some defect or fault within yourself that may not exist.
He says the speech pattern of someone with a character disorder says, “I can’t,” “I couldn’t,” “I have to,” “I had to.” Similarly, I understand this as not acknowledging your power to even make a choice, to even realize that you have the agency to change a situation. To feel: it’s all out of my hands – external forces – I can’t really do anything about this, so I’ll do nothing.
“. . . neurotics make themselves miserable; those with character disorders make everyone else miserable.” – Peck
So . . . what’s the point of writing about this? Partly to think more on it myself, and by putting it out there hold myself accountable in some way to not let myself slip into the traits above, but rather grow into a person who can distinguish what is my responsibility and under my control, what isn’t, and know how to use that knowledge to confront the problems in my life. I seriously want to start practicing the discipline of delaying gratification – both for tasks and problems.
I’m also writing to share these thoughts with you in the hopes that you will take them into consideration and let them change your life for the better as well.
Think on this . . .that problem you were holding in your mind – honestly ask yourself what excuses you are giving yourself for not doing something about it. Do you feel it’s out of your hands? Was the problem caused by someone else or some circumstance you can’t control? For every solution that you or someone else suggests, do you come up with a reason why it won’t work? Or, on the other hand, do you see yourself as fully responsible for this problem, almost trapped by it, when really the real responsibility you should be taking is to acknowledge this is not entirely your fault or of your creation and the problem you have to solve is how to get yourself separated from it?
And finally, once you’ve thought through all of this take responsibility and say, “This is my problem and it’s up to me to solve it.” (Peck)
* Just a note – if at any times it seems as if I’m being preachy here, let me just say, I’m also sitting first row in the congregation! 🙂