Level 8

Shawn and I go deep once a week, usu­al­ly with a decent amount of psy­cho­analy­sis mixed in with our Magic match­es. I real­ized I still need ther­a­py, but in a dif­fer­ent form from what my ther­a­pist could offer1. I need to work with some­one who isn’t restrict­ed by time lim­its when I’m in the mid­dle of extreme­ly time-sen­si­tive events, and it’s vital that I work at my own pace, since it’s easy to rush things (that should be dealt with very care­ful­ly) when it costs $180/hour. He also stretch­es me out in all the right ways, and I’m learn­ing that phys­i­cal com­fort is often just as impor­tant as emo­tion­al validation.

Shawn admits it’s all pop-psy­chol­o­gy since he has no for­mal edu­ca­tion, but he’s spe­cial­ized in peo­ple and rela­tion­ships for so long that it’s no less effec­tive. Sometimes, it’s scary to work with some­one who func­tions at such a high­er lev­el of under­stand­ing of the world. I recent­ly heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say, “Buddha was not a Buddhist”, which I start­ed repeat­ing to Shawn when try­ing to relate mind­ful­ness with mod­ern reli­gion. He fin­ished my thought by say­ing, “and Jesus was not a Christian”, an idea I’d only come to after a lot more research and reflec­tion. He was able to reach the same con­clu­sion by exam­in­ing pat­terns in his exist­ing knowl­edge; an extreme­ly pro­found and impact­ful con­cept to me, which I was still try­ing to ful­ly grasp, was applied com­mon sense to him.

That means I’m occa­sion­al­ly con­front­ed with how nar­row-mind­ed I can be in com­par­i­son. It’s mess­ing with things I take for grant­ed, like my ideas of right or wrong, parts of my world-view I’ve held for so long and with­out ques­tion. Sometimes, I real­ize the per­son I was until that very moment would have done things I’d now con­sid­er embar­rass­ing (being judgmental/intolerant/hateful), based on igno­rance, parochial­ism, or naïveté. Thankfully, I’m also get­ting bet­ter at accept­ing my past self(ves) by under­stand­ing all the influ­ences that have led me to think a cer­tain way. It also helps know­ing that the tru­ly impor­tant thing is that I have the pow­er to change now, and that it’ll affect me pos­i­tive­ly for the rest of my life.

Shawn used to say I was a wiz­ard stuck on lev­el 7, always on the cusp of lev­el­ling up. I had enough wis­dom and intel­li­gence and oth­er attrib­ut­es to be a much more pow­er­ful char­ac­ter, but was still a mage who couldn’t start his main quest, due to a very low stat in his rela­tion­ship score. This was hold­ing me back because rela­tion­ships are a huge part of my needs; iron­ic that I’m also so bad at them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months though, through a new aware­ness of deep­er parts of myself, and a view of the world that’s get­ting more objec­tive. I’m apply­ing these things by pur­su­ing healthy inter­ests, which cur­rent­ly means build­ing my rela­tion­ships and prac­tic­ing uni­lat­er­al virtue. While the lat­ter has been both empow­er­ing and hum­bling, it’s also dras­ti­cal­ly shak­en my under­stand­ing of my rela­tion­ships, my needs, and my past. I can tell I’m only begin­ning to fig­ure out the dynam­ics of peo­ple and how they func­tion, but Shawn says just com­ing to that under­stand­ing means I’ve final­ly reached lev­el 8, and with that foun­da­tion, I can begin the next part of my journey.

Then he gave me a high-five. My ther­a­pist nev­er did that.

  1. Not that he was bad in any way. It’s just that the nature of open­ness tends to get more com­pli­cat­ed when mon­ey is involved. You know some­one tru­ly cares when they lis­ten with­out hav­ing to get paid, and it’s eas­i­er to be com­fort­able with that. []

4 comments

  1. I love read­ing about peo­ple I know from the per­spec­tives of oth­er peo­ple. This is great.

    Also I love to see you online and offline going through such mean­ing­ful growth.

    • I love get­ting along with my friend’s boyfriends. :)

      Your growth is way more appar­ent offline! There’s so much going on behind the scenes that you don’t write about. If peo­ple only knew…

  2. The bad thing about pro­fes­sion­als is they stick to aca­d­e­m­ic doc­trines. The ama­teurs are more open-mind­ed. I’m so glad Shawn has been so effec­tive to you.The oth­er thing is peo­ple tend to be more recep­tive of advices giv­en by some­one of their own gen­er­a­tion. Things are look­ing promis­ing, cause you sound so open-minded.

    It’s always a joy for one to dis­cov­er one’s past mis­takes, cause that means he or she is a wis­er per­son today than yesterday.

    • Yeah, aca­d­e­m­ic doc­trines lead to inflex­i­bil­i­ty, and not only is that some­times inef­fec­tive, it can also be a very nar­row approach.

      It’s also hard­er to feel bet­ter when your heal­ing is an appoint­ment in someone’s sched­ule, as opposed to a per­son you can call when you need to.

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