Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Road Less Travelled - Discipline (part 2)

I wrote about reading and being amazed by M. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Travelled in this post. This is part two of me quoting and reflecting on the book.
The feeling of being valuable - "I am a valuable person" - is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood; it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood. conversely, when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adult hood to destroy their spirit
This is why I feel like parents gave me such a massive gift and were such great parents. I have struggled with my own insecurities but there is this innate sense of being valuable and loved that is such a great foundation to stand on and also to grow spiritually. It also means I struggle to understand those who claim Calvinism and the doctrine of total depravity necessitates this sense of being unvaluable. I find my own depravity and my own value to be things that are not mutually exclusive, and I think that is perhaps because I was loved so well in my childhood.
The inclination to ignore problems is one again a simple manifestation of an unwillingness to delay gratification. Confronting problems is, as I have said, painful. To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary.

Many, so many, seek to avoid the pain of their problems by saying to themselves: "This problem was caused me by other people, or by social circumstances beyond my control, and therefore is up to other people or society to solve this problem for me. It is not really my personal problem." The extent to which people will go psychologically to avoid assuming responsibility for personal problems, while always sad, is sometimes almost ludicrous.
Now, even more so than when I read these words months ago, these statements ring so true. I've seen it acted out in front of me. That last sentence..... it really is ridiculous how far people will go to avoid responsibility. Mind-blowing. Relationship-ruining.
The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One measure - and perhaps the best measure - of a person's greatness is the capacity for suffering. Yet the great are also joyful. This, then, is the paradox... So if your goal is to avoid pain and escape suffering, I would not advise you to seek... spiritual evolution.... As you achieve it, you are likely to be called on to serve in ways more painful to you, or at least demanding of you, than you can now imagine. Then why desire to evolve at all, you may ask. If you ask this question, perhaps you do not know enough of joy.
I absolutely agree with what Peck says about discipline and going through pain in order to gain discipline and grow. What is frustrating is when people make an extremely narcissistic choice and make it out to be the suffering of personal growth (see also Eat Pray Love and other such rot). Sometimes suffering and pain is a result of your bad choices. Sometimes it's a result of growth. How do we possibly know the truth when we so easily lie to ourselves? Community is the best way to look in the mirror and see the truth. Have people around you that will tell you the truth.

1 comment:

Jaimie said...

Eat Pray Love wasn't so narcissistic in the book. For what it's worth.

I love this quote: "To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary."

That's something I naturally tend to do, and so many people don't, so of course I like this quote. Haha.