The concept of metta makes me feel like an asshole

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Aondeug, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    Whoo Homestuck update resulting in religious conflict wtf. So I'm Buddhist as some here might know. Really my religious affiliation is a huge mess. One thing that definitely remains dear to me is metta though, often translated as loving-kindness. Metta is basically an unconditional love for all living beings and the desire for those living beings to be happy, healthy, and peaceful. For every last living thing to succeed and not be shit or feel like shit.

    The all bit needs to be emphasized I feel. It is the key. No one is undeserving of metta and if people are being excluded from metta in some fashion then it's not actually metta.

    I often feel like an awful person for this though. I know that I'm not prioritizing abusers over victims and I know that I do in fact care about victims and I do what things I can to help people with shit they've been put through. I'm not perfect by any means and I have room to improve, and I do have biases in places. Still it's hard not to feel like an entirely awful person for thinking that abusers deserve care and efforts to help too.

    I want to be one of the people who helps people who've hurt others learn to not do that again and to improve. Like I want to be one of those monks/nuns who goes around to prisons and the like talking to people and trying to help them through their shit. It means a lot to me. It's one of my big things I'd like to do when I join the Sangha, even if only for a time. Along with the whole "RADICAL FEMINIST BUDDHISM" thing.

    But I feel like an entirely awful person for it and feel like it means I'm blaming victims or that I hate them. I also feel bad for extending it to animals because I feel like that means I hate people and want them to suffer because I think cats are more important or some shit.
  2. hoarmurath

    hoarmurath Thor's Hammer

    What might help re: abusers is that they are people too. People who have chosen to do horrible things, but they also began their current life without guilt (depending on what one believes of course), so there were circumstances that brought them to this. Things that happened to them that shaped them.

    I mean, I am a "there but for the grace of whichever go I" person, re: abuse. I am still afraid I might abuse a partner or my own possible children one day, but hope I will not. I mean, I haven't hurt anyone physically for years now (I was a teenager), so.

    It is still a choice, to abuse, but becoming a person capable of abuse might not be as much of a choice as people think.

    I believe abusers should be not allowed to abuse, but I am not too sure whether punishing them will change anything? Of course, this is something not to be said to people who have been abused. I mean, if someone told me I should forgive my stepdad and have empathy for him, I'd probably tell them to eff the hell of. It's a journey, really.

    Please do not feel like a bad person. Your feelings and wants are entirely valid, and wanting to help people who most of the society no longer wants to help is a very hard yet virtuous choice to make. Virtuous by my own set of morals, not by any religions, but yeah. But people can change and make amends. It's just important to recognise that not all people will choose to change. Or they might not even change, but might choose to behave differently.

    Basically you want to decrease world suck (in the words of John Green), and that is a great thing!

    Many hugs to you.
    • Like x 3
  3. Aurora

    Aurora Very freckly member

    I guess, why do you think you are blaming yourself here? Is it what you are reading from other people, or do you think it comes from some core belief in yourself? Have you tried helping people who've hurt others learn to not do that again and to improve? (Eg maybe a writing-to-prisoners thing?) If you have, how does that make you feel? If not, how about trying it, in a low-key way, not as a big thing and seeing how you feel?

    I'm asking these questions as it sounds like you know the logical arguments for and against, but you're still having these feelings, so maybe you need some more digging to build up your confidence in them, or perhaps to change them, if need be. I might be entirely off-base of course.
    • Like x 1
  4. An Actual Bird

    An Actual Bird neverthelass, Brid persisted, ate third baggel

    See this bit here? This is the part that tells me you are, in fact, not an entirely awful person.

    I think for me the thing is the concept of 'helping' someone is different depending on who they are. You help a victim of abuse by getting them out of the situation, supporting them, keeping their abuser the hell away, etc. You help an abuser by trying to get them to understand why what they did was wrong, to hopefully feel some empathy and guilt, and not to do it again. I like to think that by treating abusers like they're human, you encourage them to think of their victims as human, which helps the whole 'empathy' and 'oh god I really should not have done that' thing. ... Or something like that. That's my justification, anyway.

    If all else fails, helping abusers not be shitty people also means they're less likely to abuse other people. That's definitely a good thing.

    (Caveat: While no-one is morally obliged to try and help abusers be less shitty, abuse victims are like, double-exempt. Hoarmurath raised the point about their stepdad and like, yeah, no. You don't have to forgive shit, and fuck anyone who'd even suggest it.)

    (I should also point out that I've been editing this post for like half an hour and I'm not sure any of it makes sense but I'm just gonna post it before I lose my nerve.)
    • Like x 1
  5. rigorist

    rigorist On the beach

    The repeated use of the phrase "awful person" here indicates you are not thinking for yourself. Rather, you are repeating something someone else has taught you.

    Stop repeating tumblr-talk and start thinking instead.
  6. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    I do think and I do know that I'm not that. That is how I feel, and feeling and thinking are different. I know and think about lots of things that I still feel. Like how I feel that I'm not good at anything or that all my friends hate me. Which is pretty awful, but there you go. I live in a very regular suspicion that they want to hurt me. Which is probably a thing I should have mentioned before but oh well.

    I often feel that there are two things. There is the illusion of my paranoia and self hatred and then there is the reality behind that. I catch very small glimpses of that reality and try to hold onto it best I can. The illusion keeps pestering me though and pulling me back. It is maya, basically? And it's why I often refer to myself in the plural or make distinctions between myself and my brain.

    There's me and reality. And then there's me and illusion. Granted even the less clouded by illusion reality is still clouded by illusion. Just a lesser grade of it or a different variety I guess. Another way to word it is vipilasa, distortion.

    The tumblr people definitely aren't fucking helping with my nerves though. Really I should probably stop using the site all together since so much of what they do is bullshit that sets my nerves off and I know that. I'll still be a nervous self hating wreck of a person even without them, but at least I won't be one that is willingly going back to put up with their shit.

    As for helping people who've fucked up. There is my current best friend who I have been helping with his various problems that have resulted in him abusing me and others in the past. He's gotten a lot better and I'm happy I let him have the chance to. I'm really happy about it really because he was just such a fucking asshole before and now he's not? I mean he's still a jerk at times, but everyone is. The point is he's no longer attempting to ruin my relationships with people I like and so on. I would like to try a write to prisoners thing and I think about it a lot at times but then I decide not to. Probably because of the aforementioned nerves.

    Also I know this falls into the weird religious thing I cannot prove but I have tried loving-kindness meditation on a number of occasions. Some people view it just as a personal exercise, but I believe that while it is definitely that there is more to it. I am not Guan Yin and none of us are save Guan Yin. But I do believe that we can make little sharing efforts of merit. Just not on the scale that she can, given that she can turn Hell into Heaven. Loving-kindness meditation is very difficult at times? You have to focus on someone you hate very personally at a point during it. I've had to stop in the past to meditate more generally because it made me cry. Other times it has worked out quite well. It's a thing you practice. I do feel very nice afterwards, which is just kind of the norm with meditation. I guess it's kind of like praying for others. It's not a lot and I can't prove it, but it does feel worthwhile. At least to me because I think it's a real thing that does real stuff.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
    • Like x 1
  7. Vacuum Energy

    Vacuum Energy waterwheel on the stream of entropy

    As someone who also has what I enjoy calling a "saving people thing" (as I believe it was called in the fanfic Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality), can pretty much instinctively slip into loving-kindness for basically anyone who isn't one of my abusers, and is fucked in the head:

    When you help people you are opening yourself up to be taken advantage of. Helping people is emotionally exhausting in the best of circumstances, and someone without a genuine wish to improve can use your help as an opening through which to manipulate you.

    Therapists use very, very firm boundaries to deal with this: they're being paid which implicitly establishes them as the authority in the situation, you do not get to inquire as to their life outside being a therapist (or attempt to stalk them), and they reserve the right to tell you that they need to refer you to someone else at any time.

    For someone doing this informally this kind of thing is probably infeasible to enforce - most notably, you're not getting paid! - but you absolutely must set some sort of boundary.

    Mine is that I only help one person at a time. I want to help more people, I want to do more, but if I take on too many people at once, I drive myself into the ground.

    It took several iterations of me driving myself into the ground to learn this.

    Also, I brought this idea up elsewhere but it's applicable here too: Scrupulosity. It's a thing. You're holding yourself to moral standards but holding yourself to these moral standards does not inherently make you a better person. If you are merely going to beat yourself up about it they actually make you less likely to do anything meaningful, productive, or good. For basically anyone who ends up on Kintsugi, it is not bad to want to make yourself feel less guilty, because the amount of guilty you currently feel is interfering with your life.

    Concretely, cognitive-behavioral techniques will probably help with this. Recognize when you think the thing and redirect your attention to something else. (You can't tell yourself not to think the thing or feel the feelings. It doesn't work. Just try not to think of pink elephants for a minute.)
    • Like x 2
  8. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    This is really damn important, though it's not necessarily easy to help. Feeling guilty rarely does anyone any good, neither the one having the guilt nor anyone else, so one should feel no qualms about trying to rid yourself of as much of it as you can.

    It lets you be controlled by your guilt, though, which is why some religions are really heavy on the guilt, e.g. Catholicism.

    For some people, feeling that they are allowed to shed guilt really helps them. Not everyone, but some. You're allowed. I say it. Freyja whispers in my ear that you're allowed as well, whether or not you put any credence in my personal religious delusions. She's not big on this guilt thing. Fucking Christians fucking up the world by amping up the amount of guilt in it.
  9. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    Oh yes. People have actually used my trust and want to help as a way to manipulate and hurt me in the past. Which sucks, but it happened. That and I did have a very bad habit of attempting to help absolutely everyone until I eventually just crashed. I've thankfully gotten that latter thing under control for the most part. The potential to be abused thing will always exist, but I am more aware of ways people do fuck with me now? And I make sure to talk to others about things because I'm not always the best at gauging these sorts of things.

    Anyway. CBT techniques you mentioned honestly sounds a lot like meditation and how I use it. It hasn't fixed the underlying problem, but it has helped me actually be able to get things done. Which is an important step. I just wish I could find out how to make the next step into "Isn't filled with nigh crippling anxiety at all hours of the day".

    Guilt and shame are things I try to avoid. But it is very hard because I just kind of. Seem to naturally guilt and shame myself about lots of things. I tell myself things and I do puzzle through them, but the feeling remains or just comes back. Which is distressing.

    "I FEEL SO GUILTY ABOUT THIS THING. But I don't actually need to and honestly it's not that bad BUT I FEEL GUILTY. The person actually isn't mad. They told me this. Look. There is the message right there. We even have them on the phone now BUT THE GUILT. The guilt is keeping us from doing things GUILT GUILT MORE GUILT HAVE YOU FELT GUILT TODAY BECAUSE YOU BETTER. Please stop. NO. Please? NO ALSO YOU SHOULD EAT THOSE PENNIES AND REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE HATES YOU. But. PENNIES OR THE WORLD ENDS. oh no"

    That is basically my head on a daily basis.

    EDIT: Also Morven thanks. I do think your Norse gods are definitely actually real and I do respect them from what little I know about them. They aren't mine. But they're good.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
  10. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    :/ I feel you so much in that these are the up-to-11 versions of things I do, by and large. Not the Buddhism but much of the rest.
  11. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    One day it'll be better. If I work at things. That is not this day, but at the very least I know I won't be trapped. And that being trapped is impossible in my bizarre world view.
    • Like x 1
  12. Vacuum Energy

    Vacuum Energy waterwheel on the stream of entropy

    A therapist might note that these kind of compulsive thoughts are a kind of OCD - there is a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifests exclusively as intrusive thoughts about purity - so maybe you should see if there's anything in that research direction that might help?

    Edit: I'm not offering this as an armchair diagnosis, just to be clear; I'm trying to offer this in a "other people have the same problem as you have, you can look up how they coped" spirit.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
    • Like x 1
  13. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    I have OCD. It's just been untreated for. Years. Financial reasons. I am going to call up about finding a therapist sometime this week when I have time though. Now that I have insurance. Yay. I should look into what other people with it do though. Because just I am getting very tired of this all. It hurts a lot and keeps me from doing things sometimes.
    • Like x 1
  14. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    For what its worth, wrt intrusive thoughts like that, a story. I had crippling anxiety after a thing happened, and also a friend eho is a liscensed hypnotherapist. Now, I'd seen the guys at fairs and listened to youtube stuff abd it was all pretty whatever, but when she offered me a session i was pretty wrecked and figured "why not?"

    It was like she had reached into my subconscious "i know better but i still feel shitty" switch and just flicked it right off. Issues Ive stuggled with for /years/, maybe didnt go away entirely but quieted right down. So that might be a thing if you ever get a chance.
    • Like x 1
  15. hoarmurath

    hoarmurath Thor's Hammer

    Man I do recommend quitting tumblr. I felt much better afterwards, and it's been half a year but I still keep realisations of how much being on that site actually messed me up.

    • Like x 1
  16. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    Seconding the "please quit Tumblr for your own sanity" refrain. I haven't run a personal since December 2013. I don't miss it. The people you care about will still be in other places: this forum, on Skype, on Livejournal, in IRC somewhere. And there's a chance that outside the hive vagina of Tumblr they might actually be people like you who got sucked into the hype.

    Also, getting help for the OCD might be one of the best things you can do for yourself right now, now that you have the means. That's fucking-with-your-life intrusive and you don't have to feel like that. e. and I've also noticed that with some religions it's a religious thing to feel guilt. Those whose mothers were Jewish or Catholic, y'all know what's up.
    • Like x 1
  17. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    Hive vagina...

    That is an image I never had before.
    • Like x 1
  18. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    Ah yes. Religious things and guilt. I thankfully avoided growing up with that. Though I have since run into it later in life with my Buddhism thing. One of the big recommended ways to fixing behavior and mindsets is through shame. Shame feels bad so if you fuck up you should feel ashamed. As a result of shame feeling awful you should work towards not fucking up on that specific thing anymore. Netting you the positive result of not feeling shame and perhaps a small rush of pride and joy.

    I feel that, in essence, this idea isn't entirely bad but it's a dangerous thing. Both on a larger scale and a smaller one. It's very, very easy to get carried away with shame and guilt. Especially if you happen to have some sort of anxiety disorder.

    I've thankfully trained myself off an obsession with feeling guilty about every last not perfectly Buddhist thing I do. The rushes of extreme guilt do pop up at times, but I file that away as a stupid brain thing now and try to. Set it aside. As opposed to fixating on it heavily because I am fucking up and failing in the realm of religiousness.

    There are still things that I do feel that guilt or shame are very, very useful to feel. Like my adultery. Though even there there is the issue of potentially dwelling on past shames well after the fact.
  19. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    @swirlingflight not mine, an old phrase used to refer to the denizens of (Journalfen community) fandom_wank. It's so much more eviler than hivemind, don'tcha know.

    @aundeug there's useful shame, and then there's shame for the sake of shame. For some people, shame is simply not a useful tool to modify behavior, either self-directed or having it directed at self from others. It's the difference between a carrot and a stick, as far as punishment-or-reward language goes. And then there's also the issue that shame is only good for modifying behavior, not for looking back at things we can't change. Yes, there's a certain amount of "wow that was" that goes along with remembering the Bad you've done, but it's simply not helpful to self-flagellate; you can't change what you've done, but you can change how you react to it and how you act from here on out.

    But yes, it's very easy to get carried away. Which is when you need to step in, either yourself or someone you trust, and play the real or not real game with you, to see if it's still working or if you're just doing it for the sake of it.
    • Like x 1
  20. Codeless

    Codeless Cheshire Cat

    Note, this is personal experience, not data, but for me, shame has never done anything useful at all.
    What it did was cause me to make excuses for wrong things so i didn´t have to be ashamed of them. Letting go of shame (well, trying to. it doesn´t always work) actually helped me a lot, because it means (idealy) being able to see that I did a wrong thing and say "Ok, that was wrong, so I´ll fix it and not do it again." Feeling shamed, feeling like a bad person for messing up means I often can´t do that, even though it would be much better if I could.
    • Like x 3
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