Well, here we are: at the threshold of another deep dive into the recesses of our minds. And right there, tucked away beneath layers of reflection on the givens of daily life, lies your magic escape from the mundane. This is your inner world. Or, as I once aimed at describing it in Part 1, “a realm blueprinted from the dreams, ideals, and hopes of a soul in reflection, thriving on the creativity, novelty, and life-infusing forces of imagination.”
If you are reading this, it means you are in acknowledgement of your potential to wield your creativity. You are willing to use this long-neglected tool to build a mental fortress to withstand the siege of a near barbaric assault of anxieties, responsibilities, ruminations and societal internalizations. In part 1, a great deal of time was spent in dissecting the conundrum of the truth, and deconstructing the myths that we have so readily convinced ourselves of. And what you know, is that giving truth governance over your mental domain is the first step in laying the cornerstones of a mental retreat that can be an effective coping mechanism in modern living.
This is the truth with regards to your self: your holistic being – pieced together from your talents, your strengths; your character, your personality; your hopes, and your fears. It is the truth that pertains to what you not only desire, but what you essentially need. It is the truth that surrounds the thirsts of your mind, body, and soul. Regardless of where this truth is directed, your spirit understands the shape that it assumes and the message it conveys. And in acknowledging this truth, you create an imaginative realm that offers you substance in its security.
In this space, you chip away at those concerns that plague you within the real world. You make them manageable. Your inner world was never meant to be an escape, but a retreat. This space is, at times, a mere temporary fall-back when the battle cannot be bested. In calling it a retreat, you imply a return to the fight. But only after a cognitive reconnaissance. That means: you better make it count.
But how do we even attempt such a feat?
Freedom and Responsibility
Indeed, you may have triumphed over your habit of dishonest appraisal of yourself and your situation. You may have even come to recognise the complexity of your pedigree. You may have finally become more truthful.
Yet, in that act, you have set loose a host of horrors in your head; horrors uninhibited by the internalised blockades that is the brainchild of your socialization. A free flow of thought needs to be steamied before the stream becomes a torrent.
You may ask yourself: why would I seek control over my thoughts when I have worked so hard to obtain its freedom? And the answer would be to simply rephrase your own meaning of control as you have come to understand it. What you seek through that control, is to merely reign in your flow of thought to garner the chance to offer it guidance, lest it becomes overwhelming. Training your mind is no sin. The great injustice would only be enacted when you try to impress upon your private world the arbitrary expectations of a society you are taking a break from.
In sum: playing god in your own mental creation does not give you a kick-back ticket on the seventh day dearie. Your omnipotence is a shabby little thing, and you may need more time to tame the tides of thinking…
In the Eye of the Storm
So there you are, right in the middle of your mind scape. Meta-thinking is a bit like an oil-spill. Basically, you are watching chaos erupt around you in big, beautiful and shifting hues. Your thoughts are coalescing colours that sunder with the shifting viscosity and the nature of each idea. Sure, from the outside you had control. But in your head… there is no surface tension that keeps these musings level. So what do you do? Somewhere you need to be in charge of the ethereal movements of your thinking.
Wallflowers show a particular precocity when it comes to taming the tumultuous tempest that is their minds. They call it CALM. And surely this very term would spark unrest in its matter-of-fact simplicity, especially among those horses of a different extroverted colour. But before becoming your own raging nightMARE (you galloped right into that pun sweetie), let me explain how a sideline bloomer takes root in this almost meditative state – a little thing I like to call: The Serenity Cycle.
(C)ollect – (A)ccept – (L)iberate – (M)oderate. It seems simple enough, yet, it is a mindful and engaged process that requires your attentive custodianship over your own contemplations. Mastering the maelstrom is not easy. It requires a patient navigation through waves of unpredictability, and a gale of uncertainty that can steer you off course.
You Need To Calm Down
We love quoting subheadings from the hits of millennial music starlets…
You’re in for quite a session, so start off with a little Taylor Swift moment and marinate in her socially aware pop for a hot minute…
Now. Time to calm yourself.
Phase One: Collect
Collecting churning broodings in one place is a good start in cultivating an awareness of what it is composed of. From a truthful acknowledgement of your nature, comes the recognition of your doubts as much as your confidence. Collecting these in one place allows you to see the difference with greater clarity. Or else, you’ll be faced with a beautiful chaos that seems mesmerising in its shifting spectrum. Similarly, it allows you to distinguish your stress from your comfort, remove the barriers from your desires, and seperate the remaining myths and falsehoods from the truth you had so carefully curated.
For a wallflower, this is a patient endeavour to which they tend to with sustained focus, as the sideline bloomer is faced with a great amalgamation of information that they have processed since their last mental hiatus. Being highly sensitive observers, wallflowers perceive and test their present versions of self against an external world with a laudable opinion. Every experience is continually stirred into the cosmic collection of theories and feelings, awaiting assortment and comprehension. With a sensitive disposition, this means that situational input is intensified in effect, making them powerful ingredients to the mental mix.
Phase Two: Accept
Then comes the harder part: the unconditional acceptance of what you have regarded as your flaws. In the darkest abyss of your unconscious, where little light reaches the surface of your impulsive spirit (in its entirety) to reflect its blended beauty, lies repressed a deep shame of what in part defines us. We regard these as shortcomings, as weaknesses, as faults. Our shame has the consequence of leading us to the concealment of that which causes us discomfort. Thus, we repress it to a place where it can remain deeply hidden, and where we can be consciously unaware of its presence and influence. But these very parts of us that cause this shame is also rooted firmly in who we are as a core individuals. In our own minds, we are damaged deities seeking to build dynasties that magnanimously encapsulate our ideal sense of self. And yet, in that damage, lies our niches of improvement; our restorative spaces that allow us the opportunity to come to closer and closer approximations of the best versions of ourselves. But at that very moment, standing witness to the present image of ourselves in its complex mesh of virtues and vices, there is no immediate action that can fundamentally change our perception of who we are. It takes time. Therein lies the beauty of mindful acceptance.
To allow that present version of yourself to be. To see those flaws as realms upon which to improve, instead of areas as criticism. For in every passing moment thereafter, that version is reshaped, realigned, rewritten – and every developing narrative is based on what has come before as an experiential backdrop. Thus, THIS version of who you are – the version you struggle to come to terms with – is a necessary and invaluable stepping stone to a greater form.
Wallflowers have to be continually accepting of misperceptions that creep in among the environmental feedback that validates their strengths. In truth, these perceptions are dispositional and situational attributions. These attributions are bound by context due to the people we interact with, some who understand our need for quiet reflection, and others who misconstrue this as social withdrawal (situational attribution). Yet, these attributions also result from our delayed pondering on such feedback, often leaving us to question whether we are the ones that are in possession of some fundamental flaw that lies deep in our genetic weaving (dispositional attribution). So, we reconcile our views with a truthful understanding of who we are, accepting that such misperceptions will happen as we seek to find our place in the world. But it takes time and patient perusal, and the utilisation of a fitting context from which to draw energy.
Phase Three: Liberate
After this peace accord with your holistic self, comes the liberation of the negative energy that was harnessed in the self-reflected emotions and thoughts about who you are. The enemy at the gates is but a projection of our own mental imagery as to who can challenge dominion over your personal conceptualizations. In the real world, your fabrication of a public persona is a product of your attentions being paid to a collective opinion – a pseudo self, created for the purpose of affirmation and approval. And for adaptability within one’s outer life, this may indeed be necessary. But in your own mind, where you are omnipresent to your own flow of thought, your greatest crime would be to acknowledge such input when you are seeking a retreat therefrom. And in that knowledge, a blinder removed can often reveal that our greatest adversary is ever ourselves – distorted into a picture that we don’t recognise. It questions the reason as to why we pay heed to such an unrecognisable and unliked part of very beings in the first place.
For a wallflower, time is never wasted in the reflection over what they are posed. If opinion, critique, or feedback do not resonate with us on a deeper level, then giving it any degree of validation will surely cause dissonance and discomfort. It destabilises the foundation of the truth. It then becomes important to free ourselves of unnecessary burdens (false attributions, misperceptions, criticisms, self-inflicted insults), as they serve no purpose in the greater scheme of heavy cognitive and affective labour that we invest in constructing our inner world.
Alan P. Downs spoke of the concept of validation in his book, The Velvet Rage. Through our daily life, we vacillate between that which we are willing to accept and that which we truly need. What we need, is authentic validation, as it is crucial for our self-growth. In turn, this self-growth is necessary to combat these enduring areas of shame that we face with regards to ourselves (a topic he also addresses in his book). In our interaction with people, we sometimes settle for false or low-level validations. We are noticed and acknowledged, or else complimented on qualities that are vague, vapid, and most likely attached to the public façade we have pieced together in order to cope. Our high-level validations are flattering and boosting, and we attach value to them. Yet, even a compliment given with the intent of reciprocity will starve us of the truthful considerations that we need. Your inner world, now free from lies and untethered in its possibility, can not be anything short of authentic. It is there, where we have collected both our shame and pride, then accepted our shame (and now seek to liberate ourselves from its source) where we need to confront it with an authentic validation where it is most vulnerable. For only then, can we liberate ourselves from the parts that shackle us.
Phase Four: Moderate
We are then left with what remains. Having collected a holistic perception of ourselves, accepting the disparate parts that makes up that perception, and having liberated ourselves from those shame-bound views that offer no room for growth or meaningful reflection, the task is set to us to manage what is left. This includes the perusal of a unique blend of qualities worth appreciating: our hopes, our aspirations, our unfolding collection of life stories. We are left with our doubts: about our capacities, our skills, our core faculties – all tested through momentary blinks through our narrative. It is these that we seek to moderate, and reduce in their influence. We do not seek to cut off our awareness from the presence of such doubts, simply not to experience them at the level of amplification we were exposed to when we first confronted them in the zestpool that was our untamed meta-cognitive realm. When the storm abates and the wind ceases its howling inside our cranial caverns, we manage to focus with greater clarity on the resources that are available to build our realms of imagination.
Life is a constant act of engaged self-monitoring for a wallflower. Our introverted energies have lead us to seek control over our minds, so as to better police our ruminations. But in doing so we deny the very value in such deep levels of thinking. We suppress the vibrancy of our imagination or the intensity of the feelings that have allowed us the opportunity to reach useful epiphanies. Until we learned, that moderating the impact of such thoughts make it bearable. So we take our time and deal with our thoughts and its accompanying emotions slowly. In so doing, we yield the feeling without allowing it o overpower us.
Completing the Cycle
As your wellspring of good intentions are poured out into the world, the harsh, vitriolic, and unappreciative nature of some of its recipients will mould and distort the treasured thoughts from which they stem. The power of a wordly malice is a looming threat that drives our musings wild like cornered animals. The rampage is set loose as ruminations stampede through our minds, desperately seeking purchase. Retreating to your inner sanctum should leave you blissfully untroubled by the run-of-the-mill concerns that form the gestalt of your daily outer existence. Calming the mind is necessary, and acts as a boon to retake agency, and make your mind ringmaster to its circus of ideas.
Call it an act of meditation, a renewal of focus, or simply one of the ways of the wallflower… a state of CALM is a weapon to beat down the watchful dragons of our mental bounty, before they ravage the free-bound landscape that is yours to shape. Inner battles were never meant to be waged unchecked across the delicate peace of your private domain.
Serenity serves to steady the thoughts that soldier on through a mind at war.
An inner world is meant to be a space from which to confidently allow the voice of your intuition, and to discard the hesitations in choice that limit you in your outer world. Your goal is to broker peace for the fruition of your imagination…
Calm thee tender tempest, the greater storm
The caged wail, echoing blindingly,
As white noise settles to deafened ears and screaming eyes.
Settle now the howling beast that in its freedom hunts sanity.
May peace be the sentinel
As thoughts unyielding
Prowl the waking pondering.
- Gernus Oosthuizen
Love and light fellow bloomer.