Photo credit: Nathan Vines

Once upon a time, I tried explaining my ‘container belief’ theory to my therapist. For whatever reason, when I’m the client, I lose all capacity to make rational sense and instead ramble on in half-baked metaphors loosely beaten with full blown emotion. She’s somehow always understood me and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. She’s the sole reason I only wake up screaming once or twice a year now. Miracle worker.

What I wanted to tell her was, a Container Belief is a practice that helps us condense collective chaos into something we can put a lid on and store conveniently in a much smaller space.

For example, after reading the morning headlines, we might be inclined to believe that humans are a consumptive, greedy, hedonistic virus hell-bent on running blindly into a zombie apocalypse. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. We might find ourselves drowning in despair and petrified there’s not a single, decent soul remaining on this doomed rock floating aimlessly in an ever expanding galaxy of nothingness, so why bother eating kale or even thinking about following road signs, let alone a moral compass. Right?

A Container Belief says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold your horses buckaroo. Are things really so bad? What about kittens, whales, peaches, beaches and rainbows? Maybe you just need a nap and a hundred and fifty three million dollars.” While I prefer nectarines, cause peach fuzz gives me the willies, a hundred and fifty three million dollars sounds nice.

Given the current state of affairs; the never ending pandemic, global warming, monkeypox, mass shootings, outlandish gas prices, the general extortion of labor leading to a long overdue revolt on capitalism and what? I don’t know, lost luggage and flight delays? It’s all too easy to think our ships will never come in because there are no remaining safe harbors. It’s all too easy to succumb to fear and loathing, especially in the cesspool that is Las Vegas. It’s all too easy to abandon hope and presume the planet is destined for self destruction, so why not just, dot, dot, dot.

But, what if the next wondrous, miraculous, life-changing, good thing is just around the bend? What if the purpose, meaning, peace, provision, prosperity, sanctuary, love, answer we’ve been longing for since day one is about to manifest itself? What if…we’re just deluding ourselves?

Beach Please (photo credit: Nathan Vines)

The difference between surrender and resignation is our intention. For instance, we could say: Fine god. Do whatever you want. I don’t care. And that translates to, I’m too tired, pissed off and terrified to keep trying. And you’re just a giant asshole in the sky who probably hates me. Guess I’ll go eat worms. OR, we could say, Dear heavenly creator, I love and trust you with all my heart. I believe there’s a purpose and a plan for every beautiful and terrible thing that happens under the son. No matter what, in the grand scheme of the universe, I know it’s ultimately all good. Let your wild will be done!

The difference between our intention is whether we’re in a state of Fear or Trust. Hate or Love. Exhaustion or Rest. Hunger, fullness, lack, abundance, destruction, provision, oppression, peace. Naps help. So does paid time off, affordable housing, self-worth, years of therapy and enough calories to restore minimal brain function. What else do we need?

I’ve often questioned the ethics of practicing gratitude during times in my life when I’ve been homeless or stretched so far beyond humane capacity, I’ve wondered am I taking the high road or just gaslighting myself? Cause this feels downright abusive. Equally, I’ve questioned the ethics of prescribing gratitude practices to clients who are actively suffering as a result of the charcuterie board of insults and injuries part and parcel to this mysterious thing called life. But, what are we supposed to do? Be perpetually bummed out or blissfully ignorant all the time?

One day, instead of blaming god for the plague of injustice, I turned to my Container Belief and permanently released the darkness. I realized human beings have been hurting each other since the very beginning and every behavior or event we’ve labeled as tragic, destructive, stupid, lazy, horrific, gross, selfish, toxic, demonic or otherwise utterly revolting, are simply the byproduct of being separated from Love. Name a childhood trauma. Name a social injustice. It’s no big deal. It’s not surprising. In fact, from a neurobiological perspective, it’s completely understandable. Look at the headlines and history: Fight, Flight, Fawn, Freeze. Duh. Kings, Captains, Capitalists. We don’t need each other’s condemnation. We need individual and collective compassion.

Ok, pumpkin muffins. Make yourselves a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich. Take a nap and give yourselves a big hug. We’re doing great, all things considered. xo

16 thoughts on “Believe

  1. Alright. My therapist was a wonderful person. It was nice to have someone to talk with. But after waiting ten, fifteen, thirty years to finally get into therapy, I don’t have the energy to do it all again.

    If you’re in the business, contacts can get you a good fit. Or maybe you just get lucky. I was lucky to get a positive person. I wasn’t able to follow up on her suggestions. They seemed a little trite. Instead, I did what I’ve always done and fix myself.

    It’s because of love for myself, ultimately. I think my life is worth living, even though things have gotten dramatically low. I don’t know how I’ve been able to keep going. But I do. And I think it’s a noble thing.

    But maybe it’s fear.

    Right now, my physical body is giving me trouble. The years of anguish are taking their toll. In the past two weeks, I’ve finally turned a corner. My comfort level, especially at night, has become difficult. At what point do I go to the doctor, urgent care, ER? I know it’s from neglect and sadness.

    In some ways, I’m made for this. I don’t know how else to put it. I’ve never been trained on this kind of thing. Others might say “Go see a doctor.” I don’t know why I don’t. It seems as though I’d rather suffer and die.

    I thought I was done with therapy a few weeks ago. I felt the best I have, ever. But I still wasn’t taking care of myself, not really. The way therapy looks to me now is years of searching without success. And awkward breakups as I tell, yet another, therapist that it’s just not going to work.

    This is why I work on myself. I simply can’t afford the kind of help I envision. They don’t have the truly effective ones at my price range. But their heart and enthusiasm is there. These are very loving and enthusiastic people who deserve to help others. It’s just not effective with me. I don’t like firing people.

    I did my best to follow her protocol, but also gave her input on how I was able to improve myself over the years. I hope I was useful. she took notes when I gave pointers. It sounds egotistical on my part, I know. But I seriously know myself. Most say we can’t treat ourselves. Well, I’ve felt no choice.

    She’s the one who introduced the four agreements, and other pop movements.

    She’d also say things like “Everybody thinks that way.” I understand why. She didn’t want me to feel isolated. But it’s not even a band aid. What caused the wound? It doesn’t matter that everyone else has the same cut. It seems to be hurting me more, for some reason.

    I dream that I’m flying, sometimes. The other night, I had some closure with an old, horrifying business I was partnered in. I left before it fell apart. It ruined my marriage, tore apart my family, and career.

    In the dream, I was touring the warehouse that held the facility. Some of the old equipment, supplies, desks, and the like were still there, like images of the stone remains of humans at Pompeii, frozen in stone, collecting dust.

    Parts of it were new, refurbished. New people were taking the place, and cleaning it up, painting, carpeting, replacing furniture. Suddenly, I noticed the ceiling was exceptionally high, ten times higher than I remember. I wanted to fly up there. it was bright.

    I did. I struggled only a little with the idea that I was so high above the deadly concrete. But I climb up through the air and looked down.

    People noticed. That’s new in recent years. People never really used to care that I could fly. Then I woke.

    My theory on flying dreams comes from apnea. I think there is a point when I stop breathing where I become buoyant, euphoric. It happened to me while meditating several years ago.

    Sometimes I think I will die during a flying session and am alright with it. There could be worse ways to go. I’m generally not afraid of death. Sometimes I’m more afraid of life! But I’ve only been suicidal three or four times. I’ve been too cowardly to continue the train of thought.

    Though, if I were to just pass away, that would be acceptable.

    I’m delusional. I imagine people manipulating me, trying to get me to do things against my will. I resist. Yet I continue with what I’m doing because I don’t want them to win. I’d do better if I just quit writing. But I don’t want them to win. They tease me and I hate it. But I don’t want them to win. I think they are ultimately not good people, even though they pretend to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is it possible that the people who are hurting you, are doing so because someone hurt them? Doesn’t make it ok but maybe, makes us less likely to take their actions personally?

      How would your life be different if you were treated with all the compassion, safety, love, understanding, care and support you need?


      • That’s how I’ve treated bullies in the past. Online is such an impersonal place. It’s difficult to make deeper connections. I quit Facebook years ago because of how my friends and loved ones were hating on others. I could leave here. It sort of feels like leaving my own home. There are other places to go. But I’ve been making new starts for years. I’m so tired. I’m just now starting to make a livable income. I still judge people. If I see them sitting on their butts, getting fat, and still complaining, it bothers me. Granted, I have no trouble with success. But don’t waste it digging your claws into people you don’t like, for no other reason that they rub you wrong.

        If we were all treated with safety, love, understanding, care and support, we would finally have reached the Christian ideal. I mentioned that to my pastor once, thinking even churches tend to overlook the message over the man. He really didn’t have a lot to say about it. Follow me should have been, do what I do.

        It seems like fiction. But if people really wanted peace, they would have it. Stipulations make it very difficult.

        I don’t like to think much about this fantasy. I know there are ways humans can find paradise on earth. But I’ve meditated on and off for years, and have been again for the past five or six months. Just as in the past, meditation seems to draw out aggravation. My physical body is feeling the constant undercurrent of decades of discontent.

        About people and their challenges. If they would spend their time improving themselves, to make a better world as they do digging into other people’s peace, the world would definitely be a noticeably better place.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s completely human to long for peace when we’re exhausted and hurting.
        I think compassion or meditation is called a ‘practice’ because we have to keep replenishing ourselves with it when we get world-weary.
        I think of each individual life like a bead of light on an infinite string. Each bead is moving at their own pace towards enlightenment and all we can do is run our own race, yea? I suppose the idea is that as we move towards our highest good, others would be inspired or encouraged to do the same but we can’t force them.
        You’re absolutely right that if more people focused on healing themselves (rather than trying to hurt others) the world would indeed be a noticeably better place.💜


  2. I promise myself to honor God and give Him thanks even when things seem to be going wrong. You seem to be doing something similar. That releases the darkness from my Container Belief and keeps me from vain imaginations and a darkened heart (Romans 1). Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d say 100% yes Frank. We ‘praise him in the storm’. I’ve found it helpful to remind myself of what I do or did have, even during times when it was easy to think I had nothing and building trust in him from there. It’s hard when we see others who seem to have more, or who seem to have an easier/better life. (Comparison being a thief of joy) Hard, but not impossible. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First: I love the photo! And isn’t it easy to smile like that when the right person is behind the camera? 😉

    Re what you wrote, a lot of it chimes with me. I think it’s really important to act as if there is hope even if realistically there isn’t. I can agree to an extent with your ideas regarding the passengers on the Titanic. But I’m also a specialist on icebergs and the Titanic is headed for it, if you’re talking the Earth – and that is a fact, and no amount of positive thinking will fix our course, only immediate action, en masse, yesterday, will, just possibly, change the course we’re set on enough so that the blow will be glancing, rather than full-on. Either way though, the iceberg can no longer be completely avoided. And that’s the reality that I deal with, as a biologist and as someone who loves the biosphere and this planet (and humans whose hearts are in the right place – yep, I’ve become a lot more conditional about where I bestow love).

    The things you’re talking about are necessary for getting some kind of action on the steering wheel, and of course, the less we correct the course, the more enormous the crash. So I’m with you for that reason, although I think I’m more realistic about the Titanic (Earth) and have to be, since it’s my calling.

    Lots of love your way. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

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