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Custom-Made Wisdom for Living

Updated on June 26, 2017
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long student of psycho-philosophy of living, and a devoted practitioner of many techniques enhancing personal evolution.

Every Truth Carries a Seed of a Lie
Every Truth Carries a Seed of a Lie

Chiseled-in-Cheese Wisdom

A broad-minded psychotherapist with a taste for philosophy is likely to view those pearls of wisdom as useful therapeutic guidelines with a power to redirect our thinking along more constructive and life-supporting channels. Actually, most of truisms in psychotherapy could find their match in those slogans of immortal wisdom about man and his life.

Due to an easily acceptable logic in those truisms, they became a treasure of street-smartness and a savvy way of interacting with others - which could also be called "common sense". They also became a model for people's "personal principles" to live by.

However, what is unforgivably overlooked in all that setting of the "norms of normalcy" is the fact that we are all very different, and what in those therapeutic and guiding truisms may apply to some of us, may be completely wrong for others.

In this article I'd like to show how "common" is not the right word in a good procedural psychotherapy, and those treasures of perennial wisdom are not a universally valid currency.

I am not talking about those which form a solid basis for a moral coexistence, but rather those that are supposed to help us in forming our mindsets, our emotional responses to life, as well as our attitudes in interpreting ourselves, others, and life.

An Attitude  -  "Don't Cry over the Spilled Milk  -  as Long as You Got Away with It"
An Attitude - "Don't Cry over the Spilled Milk - as Long as You Got Away with It"

Logic Works Differently for Different Folks

Let's start having fun with some of those shiny examples of immortal wisdom and their therapeutic overtones with that well known saying: "Don't cry over the spilled milk". It certainly sounds like a nice and useful reminder that whatever is done is done, and we can't turn the time backwards to edit it.

A position like that may help those individuals who found themselves emotionally stuck in some past incident involving their "big and unforgivable mistake". Elaborating on that slogan therapist can really give some closure and peace of mind to a guilt-ridden patient.

However, there is another possible type of mentality who constantly makes thoughtless mistakes and finds instant excuses led by that very slogan. "Don't cry over the spilled milk" to him sounds like a convenient "Que serra - serra" attitude allowing him to always promptly "sweep it all under the rug".

Eternal question: To Die Heroically for Others' Ideas, or to Live Smartly for Your own?
Eternal question: To Die Heroically for Others' Ideas, or to Live Smartly for Your own?

Taken Both Ways Crosses Them Out

"The only thing to fear is fear itself" is another sweet delusion that many have bought from a war time American president - posing as a universally acceptable wisdom. On one hand, yes, it has a potential to be beneficial to those folks who out of a habit worry about anything at all, as a reminder that no boogie-man is lurking from the uncertainties of future to damage their life.

But then, the slogan could also be taken as an encouragement to a certain type of hot-heads to mindlessly dive into a danger. Something of that wisdom prompted that religious fanatic in Germany a few years ago to jump into the lion's den in the zoo - getting instantly killed by the beast. Well, obviously " the spirit of Daniel didn't bother showing up to prevent it".

Indeed, cemeteries and penitentiaries are full of those who followed the wisdom of "fear is not a good reason to stop me".

Confiding Can Be such a Sweet Relief
Confiding Can Be such a Sweet Relief

A Bit of Pessimistic Wisdom

Let's see the next priceless piece of wisdom, this one pertaining to friendship: "Don't confide to your friend what your enemy is not supposed to know". Even with this obvious touch of irony, the advice could apply to those overly trusting folks who will disclose those most intimate and potentially self-damaging details of their private life to their friends.

However, to a great number of others it would be a paranoid position preventing them from a close friendship and all that it stands for. It is not uncommon that women will share with their close female friends some stuff that they wouldn't with their husbands. And "boys will be boys" as well, talking about things that their wives might not see as appropriate, exchanging experiences and advices that are for male ears only.

Different Exits for Different Folks  -  Not the One most Obvious for Everyone
Different Exits for Different Folks - Not the One most Obvious for Everyone

My Own Unintentional Contribution to Therapeutic Confusion

Allow me to insert an explanation - not an excuse - for my own apparent contradictory statements within the diversity of my articles. While not fancying to be anybody's therapist, I write about human nature and psycho-philosophy of living as I understand it - mostly trying to positively inspire my readers who may need an inspiration.

Being my own version of an individualist, I don't like generalizing and making any slogans sound as if chiseled in stone. There is no "one-fit-all" approach to what we usually call "human condition", so I am bound to make some statements from article to article that are contradicting each other - having in mind that enormous variety of mentalities. Psychology at its best is only an interpretive art, not an exact science, and it's all a matter of a most useful perspective.

You might even compare it to doctor's prescribing different remedies for same symptoms with different underlying causes. It doesn't mean that "he can't make up his mind" or something. And since I am not in a position to know personally all those readers with different issues, I have to let them "intuitively self-medicate" - choosing of my writing what best appeals to them.

Thus, someone reading my article about "letting all emotions flow naturally by their own course" may find it unacceptable for their kind of emotionality - but will find an inspiration in another one which is talking about "our power to consciously choose what we feel".

In my studious efforts to understand human nature I never made myself a "follower" of any particular "school" which might dictate a model of interpretation covering everyone's needs. Hence this apparent contradiction which you may find in my different articles.

However, I haven't made it a secret that my favorite approach, which I utilize in my own self-discipline, is the one of personal sovereignty which includes an urgency that we trust our own healing capabilities and use our own minds, free of suggestive influences from society and culture market.

This allowing different approaches also happens to be the main theme of this article.

There Could Be more Therapeutic Joy in Strenuous Activity than in a Leisure of a Sand Beach
There Could Be more Therapeutic Joy in Strenuous Activity than in a Leisure of a Sand Beach

What Relaxes One - Makes Another Restless

Those among the wisdom slogans that are oriented towards being therapeutic are the main target of my critique. For example: "Relax your troubles away" is not specifying "how" to relax. To most of us relaxing means doing nothing and turning down the volume of that inner chatter that makes us tense. And indeed, many of us may draw a lot of psycho-physical benefits out of it, which has been proven time and time again.

However, there are folks who feel much better when "in their element", engaging in some activities which may even involve a physical stress. My late father was a maintenance mechanic who passionately loved his job. There he felt as "somebody", being respected for keeping those machines running.

After our returning from a two-week vacation in Cancun, we were showing off our photos, with each one sighing in regret that it was all over - when my old man said: "I see, you had a great time there, but to be honest with you, I would die of boredom at a touristic resort." He worked till he was 76, and only quit after he got a bleeding ulcer at work.

Another example was the one about a reporter who was testing his ability to produce pleasant alpha brain waves hooked on bio-feedback machine. The more he relaxed, the less of an "alpha" was being displayed on the monitor. Then the experimenters asked him to think of the most dynamic situations on his job - and there went a lot of those pleasure waves on the screen.

Nothing Smells like a Fresh, Hot Bread  -  Unless You Are Sensitive to Gluten
Nothing Smells like a Fresh, Hot Bread - Unless You Are Sensitive to Gluten

No Eating by the Book - Listen to Your Own Body

What has become a "common knowledge" in the field of nutrition might as well be renamed into "common ignorance". Tons of books are telling us what is an optimal way to eat, to lose weight, to get more energy, and to heal our bodies.

To be honest with you, I am always suspicious whenever I see this magnitude of literature about "how-to", as one question starts bothering my mind: if something is definitely proven to be right, it all fits into one medium size book, not shelves filled with books.

It would even be plausible if the authors bothered to mention something in my style, like "try it for a while, and if it doesn't work for you, try something from another book". But wait, that would ruin their authority in the matter, as it would resemble the weather forecaster who would say: "It will be sunny - unless it rains".

So they have to make themselves sound like real experts stating something like "it's the ONLY right way to eat." As we all know, what may be a treat to one person may send another to the Intensive Care. With so many allergies, food sensitivities, and constitutional individualities among us, no one should really go so ambitious as to claim their recipe for health to be the "only" right one.

Choosing Is the Process of Growing  -  Blindly Accepting Is the Process of Stagnating
Choosing Is the Process of Growing - Blindly Accepting Is the Process of Stagnating

In the Relativity of Everything

So, how to go about all that mess of half-truths, opposites being equally true, and all that confusing wisdom of ages? Four words: using our own minds.

The only square root of wisdom derived from it would be to go more relativistic in life and junk those views that are suggestively leaning towards absolutes of any kind. It's all really a matter of balance that allows a grey area in all aspects of life. Nothing is "necessarily" the way it imposes itself as obvious at the first glance. And logic may be used in different ways giving us oftentimes opposite results.

That's where our sense of individualism has to overrun our collectivistic tendencies to accept whatever appears "good for everybody". And, if I would want to make it a little funny - as I often do - let's be wise about being wise.


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    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 20 months ago from Washington KS

      Interesting comments about old truisms. Well done.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Sukhneet - Thank you for leaving such a nice comment, I am glad you enjoyed reading it. - All the best. Val

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Dr. Billy Kidd - It is not uncommon among therapists to arm themselves with a procedural framework that they keep applying from patient to patient, somehow trying to squeeze their psycho-physical individuality into those theoretical models. By doing so, it's so easy to make diagnostic mistakes, as something of a peripheral significance may look like a crux of the problem, whereas another detail that's loud in the patient's behavior is actually a negligible variable, something of a learned behavior, not stemming from any pathological roots.

      No wonder that psychology is more of an art than a science - it takes a talent, almost a sixth sense to decode someone's intimate life. Like that Latin saying goes : "Si duo faciunt idem - non est idem" (If two do the same - is not the same).

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 20 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      "Lets be friendly- not wise about relationships." That passage really spoke to me. I got burned very badly by confiding in a person I thought I could trust and that person used the information to hurt me. I learned to never give others weapons to hurt me. In the end I learned to make better decisions on whom I trust as confidantes

    • sukhneet profile image

      Sukhneet Kaur Bhatti 20 months ago from India

      Hi Vladimir, I really enjoyed reading the hub. It has been written in a very interesting tone and keeps the interest of the reader intact till the end. Thank you so much for shring such a wonderful piece of write-up.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Rjbatty - You might have underestimated my intellectual flexibility, as I find those Jung's words absolutely fascinating. Except those around the bottom where he speaks about the duality of good and evil in us all. In "my book" there is no such thing as "evil", there are certain quite active remnants of our animalistic nature in our brain's anatomy, expressing themselves as territoriality, arrogance, a need for an "alpha status" in the herd, hoarding of means of survival, and a need for dominance. "Evil" would refer to superstitious celestial duality of god and Satan - which is strange to my mindset.

      Out of that "animalness", which in some human aspects of behavior reaches the level of bestiality - we may commit acts that would fit the description of "evil". I understand that Jung was quite into spirituality, but my version of spirituality doesn't include a celestial realm.

      To me, spirituality is an inner drive towards the purity of consciousness, expansion if it, and liberation from limitations imposed by body's sensations, and animalistic fixation of survival strategies, including ego as its main proponent. To me, it's a quest for inner harmony, with all answers coming from within, not from holy books, preachers, and rituals.

      I believe in universal intelligence, but that's where it stops, because I am absolutely sure that humans are not "wired" in their linear minds to conceptualize the mind-twisting reality of such unfathomable intelligence - at least at this phase of consciousness evolution.

      So, getting back to our first theme, some of my ideas may overlap with those of psychoanalysis, but I am not buying that whole school of thought. To my intellectual taste, too much emphasis is put on those first formative years, and to the power of unconscious. The modern neuroscience is telling us about an enormous potential in creating new neural pathways by an act of conscious insistence upon the positive.

      Not just "positive thinking" per se, but the whole package of intimate reality re-qualifying itself into a new mindset of attitudes, behavior, even directing our emotions. In my mind's adventurism I am even visiting "vibrational medicine", quite prone to believe that on a level of subtle energies it's all about our conscious living and choosing the patterns of experiencing, while being pro-active participants, not re-active observers of what our nature has in store for us.

      We have much bigger conscious power over ourselves than psychoanalysis, with its digging into negative unconscious patterns is willing to give us. It's this fixation on our past that I am not buying, among some other things.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Rachel - Isn't that amazing how we are all different? Most of the folks are longing for that last day of work, to pack up and unwind at a sunny resort - while others may go there just to please the family, while secretly waiting for the day to continue working.

      Thank you for leaving this nice comment. All the best. - Val

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 20 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Vladimir, I found what you said all very interesting. Especially the paragraph about relaxing your troubles away. You wrote that your father would have been bored at a "relaxing" resort. lol That made me giggle because that sounded just like my late father also. My father found work as a way to work out his troubles. Thank you for all your thoughts on these subjects.

      Blessings to you.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 20 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Vladimir, thanks for explaining why truisms and absolutes do not always add to our wellbeing. I really liked hearing that the truisms in the field of psychology don't always work.

      For example: I had a colleague who had Nietzsche's slogan on her wall: "If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger." It may have it's place somewhere. But having that on your wall when treating someone with PTSD is stupid. Chronic stress is another. It reprograms biological set points and makes a person psychological and biologically weaker.

      Again, another brilliant essay! Thanks.