Dostoyevsky and a Madman called Self Sabotage


The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness - Dostoyevsky


I believe that all human beings have the propensity for self destruction. Especially if  we have not learned healthy coping from the people closest to us growing up. 

Because our inner darkness (self loathing, self doubt) is sometimes too painful for many of us to face head on. Dealing with our own demons become complicated by the monkey mind (who is not our friend) when he gets that first acerbic taste of toxic elixir called human drama when we are young (i.e..: repeatedly watching a family member explode viciously towards others , an abusive or punitive family member, or being repeatedly bullied or abused at school).

We become addicted to the chaos (nor-adrenaline) and the calm (dopamine) that follows. So much so that our brains start to crave the drama. The quiet and peaceful moments in life become less and less. Like Lou Reed's "Heroin," replicating the taste of that"first drama fix" can never be replicated which is why our own neurophysiology begins to betrays us. And it is a tragedy pure and simple.

It is what Colonel Kurtz in the Heart of Darkness called, "the horror, the horror." And that is why substance abuse treatment centers and therapy offices are busier than ever.

The best way to truly illustrate how self sabotage morosely penetrates the depths of the human psyche is through the mind of Dostoyevsky (who has been known to weave some incredibly depressing tales of self loathing and self sabotage)  and his 1864 novella Notes from Underground.

The book very eloquently finds comfort in the unhappiness of life amplified capriciously through the lens of a despicable young man (the underground man) who takes self loathing and self sabotage to a whole new level.  The underground man prides himself in living a poverty ridden existence  which he describes himself as pitiful, loathsome,  and hysterical a young man with nothing purposeful to truly live for and admits to falling in love with suffering and pain.

 The underground man in the book picks fights randomly with strangers and even gets thrown out of a window. And through his own disjointed internal dialogue that, despite his own true nature as a strong person has never have been a coward at heart but a coward in action.

The underground man indulges in fantasies about how life could be where he was admired and loved (self pity) but at the same time engages in deliberate self sabotage (picking fights, humiliating and criticizing a potential love interest, etc) and never allows himself to be happy despite his current circumstances.

He becomes addicted to destroying the world around him which satisfies his internal need to destroy himself (self sabotage).

Tremendous courage is demonstrated in life when, despite the odds stacked against us we persevere. When we begin seeing the forest from the trees beautiful things begin to appear. We fall in love, get our dream job, and create a family of our own.

When we are able to come clean and admit to ourselves that self sabotage is an addiction in itself (to chaos, like an addiction to heroin, gambling, etc) we are better able to seek help professionally.

And like Dostoyevsky's character the underground man, the path to self destruction is beset by allowing the toxic residue from the monkey mind take over. 

The antidote is recognizing (in ourselves) that strength and courage is not hiding in the shadows amongst the darkness of chaos.  It has always been there, shining brightly in all of us.

You just got to start looking within for it....

LifestyleJeanne Verger