Thursday, March 8, 2012

Avoiding the Vegeta Mistake

First off, so you don't get disappointed, this post is indeed a reference to Dragon Ball Z, but it's not about DBZ alone. In fact, I've written about this before, but reframing the phenomenon as the "Vegeta Mistake" has given me massive insights into the problem, enough so to have helped my life significantly these past weeks. This identification alone has given me a big leap on my new year's resolution to trump my bipolar and OCD tendencies, as I dub 2012 the year of "Self-Mastery" mainly in reference to the fact controlling my psychology is my most important goal this year.

After finally getting into an apartment, my main concern now is to get myself together after all the emotional turmoil I've had to go through while growing up. My biggest problem in life has always been being stuck with terrible people who always harmed my mental well-being, and with the sorry state of the world today I've had a horrendous time actually getting away from them, the only objective and definite solution to the problem. Now that I've got there, I need to overturn a lot of bad habits and ways of thinking I've gained from being immersed in such frequent stress, and the Vegeta Mistake is, I think, part of the core of the problems I face.

In short, the coined term "Vegeta Mistake" notes the phenomenon in which one thinks and acts on the belief that one's emotions has an external effect on the external environment around you, other people's emotions in particular, as if the experience of an emotion itself somehow radiated an energy outwards. For example, take anger. Have you ever dealt with those people who, in refusing to control their emotions, will often resort to intense glaring, explosive shouting, and other aggressive gestures? In my own experiences, particularly in my own cases of acting like this, the implicit belief is that the anger will initiate a stressful response in others, like fear, submission, and obedience. In glaring at others there have been times in which I in non-verbal terms wished that stare would literally transmit some kind of energy to the other person, which would mystically make them afraid and ashamed of themself for provoking me. It's an absurdity to think like this, but it's one of those preposterous beliefs one can adopt and act on if it's never actually acknowledged or verbalized to the persons conducting themselves like this.

The reason why I call this the Vegeta Mistake is because in the DBZ series the characters are capable of interacting with the environment in different and unique ways, such as shooting a beam out of their hands to blow up a mountain or increase their strength in a way that causes a lightening storm to generate. Vegeta, the person is question, is characterized by his hot temper, and in losing control of his emotions he would whimfully allow his abilities to affect the environment around him. For instance, one time when a scientist refused to build him some exercise equipment he got so angry he caused a pressure wave to emanate and crush and destroy the scientific equipment within a few feet of his standing-point. There has also been a time when he got so angry at a villain that he started generating lightening strikes and an intense windstorm. In the series it isn't mystical or magical -- its consistent with the laws of reality in their fictional universe -- but it is representative of how some people may feel what they're doing when they're indulging their emotions. The term Vegeta Mistake may be representative of how a person may feel when enraged, but it embodies so much more than that.

In total, it embodies virtually any time someone allows their actions to be unthinkingly dictated by an emotion, in the unstated belief that the emotion itself can generate some kind of effect in others, the same way Vegeta can generate lightening, wind, and pressure ways by simply getting angry.

It comes in many forms depending on the emotion. A person who allows themself to lose their temper may hope that their resulting behavior will invoke fear, submission, and apologetic behavior in others. A person who wallows in depression may hope that the very experience of the suffering will create a sort of magnetism to draw others in to inquire about the pain and attempt to remedy it. A person immersed in bliss may hope that the uplifting sensation will uplift others simply by being in the vicinity.

While it's true some of the described effects can happen in those scenarios it's important to understand what exactly is activating that kind of response. In all cases its the external behavior people observe and experience, not the internal emotion you're feeling. The enraged person can only make people become recessive by their yelling and aggressiveness, not the experience of their anger. The depressed person can only draw others in only if they already care about them and communicate their suffering, not by indulging in their suffering in hoping it creates an attractive force. And the happy person can only uplifts others by the ways they treat and talk to others, not by simply feeling good.

To fully understand what I mean, here's an experiment you can visualize. If you were in a library with a crowd of people, would people tell you to be quiet or kick you out for being noisy if you started using your inner voice to shout? Of course not: Nobody can hear your thoughts. If you started literally shouting then of course you would garner that negative reaction, as the speaking is what people can

How this all relates to my life is that this has made me deeply understand how far back I've been holding myself by holding back on comprehending this point. Making the Vegeta Mistake has been holding back both the emotional progress I want to make in gaining self-mastery and the value I can cultivate in my personal relationships.  

I ought not be one to hide my failings. A few weeks ago I had a rather intense emotional episode that knocked me mentally down by several notches, and created a big rough patch with my friends. I was upset with how things were going in a particular situation, and with irrational disregard I allowed my emotions to pilot me, which made the very problems I was upset with in the first place much worse, and made me become more distant from my friends since they felt pushed away, rather than sympathizing with me as I emotionalistically hoped they would. As a result, for about a week I temporarily developed a full-force depression, including the physical tiredness and all, and did not have the same enjoyable company with my friends as I had. I was acting on the foolishly unvocalized belief that indulging my intense emotions will cause others to sense them and sympathize, but, obviously and of course, they responded to my disrespectful behavior, the only thing they could actually observe, and acted accordingly. I wanted to advance forward by having an "episode" and kicked myself backwards instead. I don't know where it was in that period, but I began thinking about previous writing I had done on emotions and refined it to the point I came up with the "Vegeta Mistake" and realized how seriously I was committing it.

Now that I think about that term almost daily I have made huge emotional progress, and have vastly improved my relationships. Whenever I feel an oncoming urge to act on my emotions I say to myself, "Vegeta Mistake! Vegeta Mistake!" and then know immediately what intelligent behaviors to adopt in order to rationally get what I want, such as taking deep breaths to sooth anger, reaching out and interacting when I feel lonely and sad, and so on.

By keeping this in mind and rationally tailoring my actions in accordance, I have restored and enhanced the values in my relationships and gotten further ahead at work. Additionally, and of huge importance, I have begun to change my emotional nature to the point that the frequency of those intense negative emotions is decreasing and becoming far more manageable, a sure sign that I'm healing from my difficult past. For instance, becoming somber amongst my friends was far too regular an occurrence, and now by striving to push through the resistance and interact with my friends those emotions have been abated and my bonds strengthened.

The Vegeta Mistake is surely an absurd belief, but, again, it's one of those incredible oddities a person can absorb into one's character if it's left unspoken in the mind. When a belief is unspoken and unacknowledged to our very own self, then we can act on the craziest of premises. That being said, you should then be able to see the extent to which people actually perform the Vegeta Mistake. Take any case in which a person glares at you hotly when they've lost their temper, and will openly display their rage while refusing to rational resolve the problem. Or the significant other who will suddenly give their partner the silent treatment, continually refusing to state the problem, in the hopes that the offending person will "just know." Or the morbidly depressed person who becomes sullen and shuts other people out, sometimes even continually pushing people away, and then later complains that they feel alone and resentful that no one will help them. The Vegeta Mistake, in all cases here.

I'm thoroughly glad I've been able to condense this phenomenon into those terms as I have, as I intend to cite them almost daily to remind myself how to rationally construct myself actions to respond to my emotions, as now I am much closer to receiving the longed for prize of 2012: self-mastery. 

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