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Moving Forward? I Don't Think So

In response to my last Blog, a reader disclosed her thoughts about life, self-love, and the perspective of moving forward. I have heard others speak of moving forward in life, and attaching it to the idea of moving on. Some psychological authorities have even gone so far as to add the idea of moving backwards to the idea of moving forwards; and they compare and contrast the two. I tend to believe that neither term applies to our lives, that they merely serve to confuse the issues of unfoldment and maturation.

As an adverb, forward may mean onward, in advance, toward. As an adjective, forward may mean situated near the front, early in season, preparation, ready, prompt, easier, earnest, bold, impertinent. As an interjection, forward means on. As a verb, forward means to help forward, hasten, to transmit. I am not aware of a life related definition of the word, but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist, it just means I am not aware of one.

Life does not move in one direction or another. Life just happens to people. The Westernized world believes that we choose life events, as if there is some sort of metaphysical thing: choice. When we experience life, we might take a moment and let our ego choose how to rationally explain our personal event in language that we can understand. But we seldom ever choose whether an event actually happened after the fact has occurred. Hundreds of events happen in our lifetimes, that upon examination, we are unable to explain why the events occurred. Life is a series of random events, sometimes we can fit them into our worldviews and sometimes we cannot.

There are a number of stages of cognitive and emotional maturation that have been classically described to help all of us understand why a two-year-old child will act one way in a social situation or conflict and a nineteen-year-old adolescent will act differently (hopefully). The same holds true for adults. Everyone has a different cognitive process that is likely a phenotypic representation of our innate intellectual neuro-biologic circuitry. It is the early childhood environment in which we live that demands our attention and processing skills to survive, circuits are connected and firing, processes are based on our learned, molded variety of cerebral operation. Psychologists have described a set of appropriate landmarks of normal rational human psychological maturation. These are not milestones of people moving forward in their lives, although certain stages may be forward of others in the scheme of things. These are more like sign posts showing us what behaviors are considered normal or abnormal at certain expected times in our lives, given a certain number of satisfactory environmental factors. Sometimes our childhood or adult milieu is less than optimal; and if our prefrontal and frontal cortices are not fully developed, we may behave in ways that are injurious to ourselves in some form or fashion. We may behave in ways that our societal collective deems out of accord with everyone's best interests. Everyone, who has lived life to its fullest, has a number of events that remain fresh in their minds as being turning or changing points in their life, regardless of the outcome of the events.

Life changes can be subtly unperceivable over time, or abrupt and catastrophic. Sometimes these events can be joyful or sad, healing or destructive, but they are never forward or backward. Life unfolds and brings opportunities for us to expand our authentic selves. When we are faced with intolerable situations, our entire psyche begins to shake and crumble; we are forced to find solutions that bring greater range to our constructed worldviews. Our moral code changes with age because most of us realize that rational thought and decision-making are greatly influenced by our environment and our personal state of mind. From moment to moment, the settings that surround us change, so our response to the moment's experience will change with it. If a woman chooses to marry a man because he can provide a safe and secure environment for her to raise her children, is she moving forward in her life? What happens when she has two children, her life is safe and secure, but she finds out that her husband is having an affair? Her reason for marrying him was not love, or sexual attraction, it was security. And she is secure. He has no intention of leaving her for the other woman; he is just enjoying sex with the woman. Is the wife moving forward or backward in her life after she tries to explore every option of what to do? Put aside all of your thoughts associated with moral law. Then ask yourself, what is the forward or backward direction? There is no forward or backward direction.

If an addict is sober for years and then uses drugs when a situation in his or her life becomes intolerable, is he or she moving backwards or forwards? Neither one, he or she has returned to their coping skills of the past, since they are unable to make a decision in an intolerable situation. The intolerable situation is the very primal force of man that forces each of us to move our moral range, we narrow or widen it. An addict who regresses and begins to use again, whether its methamphetamine or sex, has not widened or transcended their intolerable situation, and is most likely afraid to make a change. People stay frozen when the alarm bell rings over and over again, “What would the neighbor's say?" They live a fear-based life. As in the movie Groundhog Day, every day is just another day like the one before, and the one after, regardless of circumstances.

Life is filled with intolerable decisions. Our Westernized minds require us to hone our decision-making faculties, and to never lose sight of our individual Self. When our mind ruminates over our potential choices of action, our ego attaches each potential solution with a different set of emotions. Some solutions will be more emotionally difficult than others, at the same time some will be more economically challenging. Take the intolerable decision for a poor, pregnant, unmarried, teenage girl to put up her baby for adoption. After she delivers the baby, and the baby is delivered to its adopted family, does the teenager move forward in her life? No, she returns to her pre-pregnant state of life having experienced a unique life adventure that may leave her wiser in some respects and healthier in others. Then again, she may repeat the adventure over and over again. If she gives up her child and experiences depression, she may be stuck between everything she wanted to do, and everything she had to do, because she was afraid to do what she wanted to do. She uses up all of her energy trying to balance between what could have been, and what is, leaving her in a depressed mood.

As life happens to us, we react from our unconscious mind. Our ego works hard to frame a rational explanation, so that we can justify our behavior to ourselves, and others if need be; this helps us live with the consequences. Sometimes, in the wake of our initial decision, we make an equally abrupt second decision in an effort to right our course of action. Our most important factor in decision-making should be to keep as authentic as possible. There are no forward or backward choices, only choices that benefit or harm our authentic selves.

For all you forward thinking people, I hope I've helped you to abandon your move forward and leave your old self-behind-way of seeing the world.

Posted by Katie Reed at 10:47 AM
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