Sunday, November 30, 2008

Excess And Deprivation

In this fairly blessed culture, one's greatest enemy is often ourselves. It's generally something tied to excess of something we like, deprivation of something we need, or both.

I've used this poem as a tool to help others help themselves. It's ideal for people with serious addictions, but nearly everyone has some trap they keep falling into.
Read this carefully:

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the street.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


No, I didn't write that poem. It's titled Autobiography In Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson. Amazing, isn't it?

When it comes to the demon you've been wrestling with, if you have one, which chapter are you stuck in?

I'll throw out some ideas in different categories. You'll see issues of people here that affect your life and tempted to say, "Oh, that's so n' so!", but this ain't about them, it's about you and your stuff, so try to focus on that and what you need or would like to do to bring about change that you have control over.


Excess: Knowingly being a sucker in any kind of relationship, reckless promiscuity, love or infatuation addiction, being needlessly critical or argumentative, oppressively dominating another in love, family or work, using anger to control others, being a workaholic to avoid emptiness in your social relationships, wasting time with people who drag you down or things that bring you little satisfaction.

Deprivation: Avoiding face-to-face social connection with others, putting hobbies and pleasurable activities on the back burner, ignoring your loneliness for companionship, sexual starvation, ignoring signs of depression and anxiety.


Excess: Overeating, eating foods you shouldn't if you have a specific health condition, not practicing safe sex to avoid disease or unwanted pregnancies, smoking, abusing alcohol, using hard drugs or steroids, staying so busy that you don't get enough rest or sleeping too much.

Deprivation: Not getting enough exercise, not eating properly or taking vitamins to compensate, not getting help for any kind of addiction or mental health issue that affects your body or mind.


Excess: Buying things you don't really need for yourself or others, gambling to excess.
Deprivation: Ignoring important bills, not saving for something critical, not developing your academic or career options to its fullest.


The burdens we carry with us are like unwelcome baggage... heavy, like a bag of rocks which weighs us down. Sometimes we pick it up luggage by accident, and since we are creatures of habit and like what we like, this can be to our demise.

More frequently the burdens we carry are generational, passed onto us by one or both parents, our extended family, grandparents, or further back on our family tree. It can be barely in our consciousness or unconscious, or, our troubles stem from a social burden and part of our community or culture.

I won't lie and tell you this is always a bad thing, because all sunshine and no rain makes a desert.

Our troubles can give us insight into the human condition and make us stronger, better and more useful people.

Thus, just as the earth needs rain for growth, we need the challenges that comes from problems to become stronger and give us depth. View your issues not as a curse, but possibly a gift, which teaches you how your problem developed, and how to overcome it.

What you learn may apply in different areas, and also be helpful in your relationships with others - and maybe prevent the next generation, i.e., your kids, from picking up your baggage, developing your less functional coping skills in some area, and later falling into their own hole.

As you begin thinking about all of this, you might become ready to unload that some or all of that baggage that has been weighing you down.

Proceed slowly, because success in things that matter most is a journey, and takes time and nurturing. Your problematic habits of excess or depriving yourself probably didn't develop in one day, and they're not likely to disappear as quickly you'd like, so be kind to yourself.


Note: This article is a reprint of post I wrote in my other blog on 11-30-2008.

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