While we have all been there, it is still desperately sad to see somebody wallowing in the pit of despair. 

(from "The Princess Bride" a must-watch film, the book is different but well worth a read too)

I get that it is difficult for you. I know that you want me or somebody to say or do something that will make it easy. Something that will make it all ok, that will make it go away.

I can't.

In truth, the admission still hurts me but it is the truth. 

What you want is a bottle labelled "drink me" that will take you to a different world. But all you seem to get is the world saying "eat me". I hate to be the one to stamp on your playset but the Star Trek transporter system doesn't yet actually exist. If you look up for a minute you will see that there is an open door for you. I know, there are stairs on the other side of the door and they will be harder and who knows, you may even run the risk of having to put in some effort. But what's your alternative? Put the damn cake down! You can eat as much as you want but it will not change you - at least not in the way you think! (There is some good evidence linking depression and inflammation, so that gluten, sugar and omega-6 mix might be worth avoiding for further reasons! For more information on this and other bad news arising from diet and the solutions, have a read of Evolutionary Psychiatry or Robb Wolf)

Funny thing is though, unlike the physiological responses to stimuli we have more than a degree of control and choice about our response to the messages we get from our relationship with the world. As Christopher Marlowe wrote, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us" (Dr Faustus). At what point to we start to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, if every relationship we have degenerates into "personality clash" or if every project in which we are involved goes pear-shaped, that there is at least one common denominator and that is ourselves?

If every resolution we make falls away within a fortnight, how long before we entertain the possibility that maybe we need to try doing something a little differently? Change your situation or change yourself. Heck no, it's easier to spend all your energy cursing the fates and going on the defensive than it is to learn the lessons. The concept of learning from history or being doomed to repeat it is more than a philosophical discourse.

All your boyfriends are jerks? All of your staff go off the rails and turn out to be hopeless? Every time you back a technology format it ends up being defunct and on display in the science museum? Every horse you pick ends up in the glue factory before the race is over? At what point exactly do you start to inspect your selection criteria?

For some this piece may proof to be further evidence that "everybody is a bastard". We cover all of the mirrors and we are careful not to look in lakes or walk past shop fronts lest our reflection turn on us too. And we know. There is a tremor in the depths of our soul, a plaintiff voice sobbing in the darkness of our heart, a hoarse whisper that croaks that maybe there is a point to this. But we fight it. We fight because it is the right thing to do, it is what strong people do. And we are strong, we will not be victims. 

Noble sentiments to be sure. Declarations that on the one hand are hard to contest. But on the other there are alarm bells. If we become convinced, absolutely, unshakeably convinced that what we are doing, we are doing solely because it is the right thing to do, we have become a danger to ourselves (just for the record if we are doing something because it is the right thing to do and everybody else is doing it or we have always done it, we are still in danger). Uncertainty is central to life, to our existence. To shut the door on that is to deny our nature. To dismiss it is to remove learning, to destroy risk awareness. I may be projecting a little much of my own neuroses here but normally those moments of bombast are the early warning siren for the impending arrival of nemesis. When we make so much noise in unthinking, rote defence of our position we find ourselves unable to hear the ice on which we stand start to crack.

"Til swol'n with cunning, of a self-conceit
this waxen wings did mount above his reach
And, melting, heavens conspir'd his overthrow"

(I love the imagery but as you will have gathered I am not a big fan of that externalisation of the blame).

If our pride allows, mistakes can teach us so much. But in order to permit that, we must concede that we are not the finished article, that we are not perfect. But pride is a fickle, shallow whore that will, if left unchecked, sell your soul for a gaudy trinket and a potentially fatal blind-spot.

Actually, that is not entirely fair. A shot of pride can be a kick-start for your "give-a-shit" motor. It can be the companion that pushes you over the hump. Eustress. As opposed to the the distress of the high dose which can leave you feeling like you are midway through a trans-Atlantic crossing paddling a leaky rubber dinghy.

You can take the chance to use the proffered puncture repair kit or you can spend your time explaining why it is somebody else's fault. At this point, the most important thing is to fix it. The brand of the solvent is unimportant. But once the water is to your waist, you had better brace yourself for a swim - it is too late for a less dramatic solution.

If you choose not to, that is fine by me. Really, it is. But please, please stop selling yourself the lie that you are powerless. Stop looking to me to cry for you because you are being tossed aside by a callous world or capricious fate or evil government. Deities, governments and other people will come and go. They may or may not provide the help that our upbringing tells us is our right to expect. Good news/bad news. Help is available (by the way, do not lose sight of the fact that help does not mean somebody else doing it for you) but the world is uncaring. Only uncaring in the sense that it is indifferent to your fate. 

Do or do not, the world will continue to revolve. 


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