Beast

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It’s good to get away often.  It quiets the voices that tell us we are small and limited.  I have discovered in moments of isolation, after the pangs of loneliness had subsided, long after I was written off as done for, that within me was a poised and powerful giant capable of rising, flourishing, and transforming the world.  

The Problem with Pleasure and Success

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Ever wonder why your goals and big projects never get accomplished?  “I’m not depressed” you tell yourself… “I have a decent job” and “ I get along with people.”  But when it comes to accomplishing a specific goal or setting yourself to create something new, it seems to always get pushed to the side or left incomplete.  Fear, you say?  Discouragement?  Too busy?  Well, we all experience these feelings and circumstances and yet there are those who maintain a resiliency in the pursuit of their dreams while others fall short of ever achieving them.  

Instead of falling into despair, let’s examine the role of pleasure and its effects on our drive to pursue goals and overcome challenges.  The pleasure principle is the inherent drive in a person to seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs.  The effort placed in seeking and avoiding takes great energy. As matter of fact,  it’s a basic survival skill evident in both humans and animals.  Once a person has been filled or satiated with pleasure, the drive to accomplish, pursue, overcome, and take on any circumstance is drastically reduced.  For example, let’s say you’ve you haven’t ate all day.  All you can think about is food and what you’re going to eat and how you’re going to go about getting the food. However, once you have ate and are full, the mind becomes content and sends the message “I am good, I can rest- no need to pursue anything.”  We are left in this state until we start feeling hungry again- and the cycle of pursuit continues.  Now imagine what happens to our desire to pursue new projects and levels of aspiration when we are excessively indulging in seeking pleasure.  More often than not we’re left in a state of complacency- telling ourselves we are satisfied while falling short of our potential for success.  When the opportunity of developing a product/business, approaching a person we’re attracted to, or starting a new routine to better ourselves, the drive has been quenched with the pursuit of trivial pleasures and we are unable to push through fear and uncertainty.  

In no way is pleasure a negative thing to be avoided.  It is natural to hunger and seek satiation.  The danger lies in overindulging, resulting in complacency and unfulfilled potential.  I believe everyone is responsible for taking an honest assessment on making the connection between lack of success and time spent in overindulgence of pleasure.  

If you feel that you are not living up to your potential and are unable to remove that mysterious obstacle that stands in between you and your dreams, I urge you to honestly ask yourself how much time and energy is being wasted on feeling good.  Perhaps it is overeating, alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, or social media that you struggle with.  Make a decision today to either reduce indulging in them or cut them off altogether and place the energy and drive to accomplishing your goals.  

Can you think of any pleasures you or someone you know may be excessively indulging in and how this is affecting your or their ability to succeed?  

Irving Cabarcas, LMHC, MCAP, ICADC

The Question That Changes Everything

715AB0C3-DB9E-461C-8901-53C0443895A6We all strive for individuality and ways to express it.  But how many of us apply our uniqueness- those treasured traits that set us apart?  When there’s a fire deep down that burns within, do you quench the flames out of fear that those around you may oppose or even mock you?  We all have an inner voice urging us to break out of the shell in order to express ourselves.  The truth that lives in us far outweighs societal pressure and commentary.  Bottom line- one cannot have one foot in truth-seeking while peddling in conformity out of appeasing others.  A man must often toil in these times with the most vital question he’ll ever ask: “Who am I, really?”

The Law of Ego and Self-Esteem

D1DDD265-E12A-4881-8E74-0F97ECC1F0B1Ego and self-esteem both have an opposite effect on one another.  Where one is fed, the other diminishes.  We must exercise caution in differentating the two. Ego temporarily provides a sense of gratification and fulfillment but gradually creates separation, loneliness, and conflict.  Self-esteem, initially, may seem contradictory where one shifts focus away from self and directs it towards others, but in time creates a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and connection.  In short, the more I am ‘all about me’ the more disharmony I create;  and the more I am about others, the tighter the bonds and greater the balance I bring into life.  Mastering this art is the simplest way to happiness.  

Digging Deep When There’s Nothing Left

C13823A4-5CF1-4C5A-AA1F-A1D8636E434DI woke up to a voice unlike any other- a voice with much authority and clarity, one that I could not pretend was an imagination, or a whim, or an echo emanating from a quote from the latest self-help bestseller.  This voice resided in desolate and absconded territory, a place long empty, yet filled with pain and an ambience that could break even the most hardened soul.  And there I stood, listening to the voice “Dig….Dig.”  And so I did with no shovel, hands muddied and bloodied digging through filth, hardness, and nothingness.  Minutes passed, hours passed, days, weeks, months, and years, and…nothing.  Yet, the voice grew louder and clearer, “Keep digging.”  I stood there crying, skinny, beaten, sleepless, disheveled- fighting the voice, telling it that there was nothing there.  Nonetheless, it continued “keep digging!”  And so I did.  And from a distance I could see recognizable figures staring at the unrecognizable fragments of the man they once knew.  Gasps, silence, disgust, some look away.  Some dare to ask “what are you looking for?”  And tears roll down and I start feeling like a blend between the two protagonists from Beautiful Mind and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  “I don’t know what” I say.  Just then, a pastor I haven’t seen in years stands in front of a building with sincerity telling me to come here.  But I went there for years and found nothing as clear as this voice and so I continue to dig.  The doors of the building shut and fade away and an old childhood friend stands in its place, holding a bottle and a bag of cocaine.  He whispers “this will quiet the voices and kill all the pain.”  But I remember being dead inside and needing more just to get by… and so I, keep digging and the skin on my hands break and so does my heart as my old friend fades away, away from the voice.  Many others come along but I keep digging.  I dig through the pleas of beautiful women, money, careers, and almost oblige to the persuasive tactics of Appeasing Others.  But the voice grew louder and I dig.  I dig and dig until there’s nothing left of me.  And then, from the same distance the pastor and my friend stood, my family cries out, my son yells “Come daddy.”  I take a step towards them but the voice intensifies, gripping my soul into an understanding that if I don’t keep digging I will lose everything, I will lose them.  Humiliated and greatly discouraged I dig with the little strength and sanity that remains.  “There’s nothing left” I say to the voice as I stare into what is now the hollowed depths of my being.  Cries, pain, mistakes, past hang ups, traumas, guilt, and heartbreak escape the void and I stand like the miner who has discovered the finest diamond on earth… I can finally see the great voice, clothed in infinite Love living within me.  

What great pains and erroneous paths most of us take to find love!  I have found that G_d in His infinite wisdom chose the finest abode in a place we’d often overlook…within us.  Please, keep digging!  

Dying for Meaning: The Reason for Suicide

C54587F2-BCDA-4724-8CC5-EF375DFB8E10In the human body a cell that has lost its usefulness, that is, it is unable to carry out the function it was created for, will nullify itself through a process called ‘apoptosis.’  The term, also known as cell death occurs when the cell no longer serves a critical function in the organism.  Similarly, when a man or woman lives a life void of his or her intended purpose, they will pursue a path of self-nullification known as suicide.  

Taking this into account, the only surprising thing on suicide is that it surprises us at all.  We live in a society that bombards us with ways to stay updated and simultaneously astray.  When the mainstream becomes the sole source of education on who we are and what we are intended for, a spiritually empty culture is formed.  When we cannot find our purpose of living, we lose our drive to persevere through the lulls and challenges of daily living.  Our objective should then be to diligently seek that purpose which resides deeply within (not without) all of mankind.  

What’s Really Wrong With Treatment?

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We have become too hung up on the description of addiction rather than on an effective solution.  Focusing on consequences or engaging in dialogue over its nature has its place but does absolutely nothing to treat it.  Scare tactics, statistics, substance classification, route of administration, celebrity stories of tragedy and recovery, emphasis on meeting attendance, religious rituals, alternative feel good therapies are all inefficacious forms of addiction treatment.  It is time to wake up to this epidemic and begin exploring what has always worked:  bringing men and women who suffer from addiction to a practical spiritually permeated life in which attitudes and behaviors are significantly altered to suit a life of continuous abstinence.  The more we treat this problem on a spiritual level and less on an entertaining or aesthetic one, the greater the chances of survival.  

Fear

E6C03FF1-565A-412E-8B80-7F89AE282F5BFear is the symptom we experience when we have deviated from G_d’s plan.  Every challenge we face is perfectly orchestrated. We are also inherently wired to overcome our challenges either through toiling or surrender.  Our hopes to conquer fear should not rest on illusory methods to temporarily relieve worry posed by men.  Rather, our eyes should be set on the Designer of life Who has meticulously etched out every second of our lives to fulfill an individualized objective.  A man who can say “G_d is in control” in the midst of his problems is likened to one who has conquered the world.  

Beauty of the Beard

2FC5968E-4C29-44F7-8785-800B9CFDD618“What’s with the beard?, she asks as the last drops of coffee spill into the forestry of salt and peppered chin hairs.  I should have known the question was coming as it happens to be as of recently she turns her gaze from my eyes to the puzzlingly scouting of untamed facial hair.  I sip air, hoping the quieted seconds will quell her curiosity and she’d derail her questions to colorful topics like politics or conversion or counseling in prison.  But I’m stuck and break the silence with “ideals.”  I realize I’ve already gone too far, recognizing I have missed the exits of ‘early Movember’ or ‘fashion statement.’  And then enters the anticipated dread of un-interruptions so I continue:  “The beard is a sea of ideals, a vast and seemingly infinite ocean separating who I long to be and who I am.  The strands of hair represent the endless journey, an ongoing battle to merge the contents of the mind with the desires of the heart.  My beard is a story composed of daily dialogues with the Creator- it is a panoramic museum depicting refined poets and unrestrained savages in combat.  My beard is a composition of curled letters telling tales of wandering peoples through the desert- an anatomy of a broken heart daring to mend itself.  The beard is a covenant, a promise to always recall what I’ve been through, where I stand, and where/who I want to be.”  

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