Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Bane of Reason



The Elephant in the Room

I feel like I’m normally a voice of reason, level-headed and on an even keel.  Most of the time, these days anyway, I don’t get triggered. So when I was totally out of the blue it sent me into a spiral of sorts. I haven’t experienced that in quite some time.

Being triggered, for me, sets into motion a whole chain of negative self-talk and along with it self-doubt. In a sort of PTSD-like fashion it sends me right back to that place where I was before I escaped the situation that led to the PTSD to begin with.

Usually, not always, when it’s words that trigger, there’s what’s actually said, and what I understand the words to mean.

Someone might say, “How could such an intelligent person believe (insert whatever nonsense you like)?”  I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid.”

When I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid,”  I start to reevaluate every negative thing that’s happened in my life and come to the astounding realization that, “Damn, I sure am stupid.  And if I weren’t so stupid most of that wouldn’t have even happened.”

Belief in talking snakes and global floods?  Stupidity on my part.

Sexually assaulted?  Stupidity on my part.

Involved in an abusive relationship?  Utter stupidity on my part.

For two fucking decades?  Unimaginably, astonishingly stupid!

No one has to say it.   I already know it.  When someone even implies it, it only confirms what I believe about myself even when it flies in the face of logic and reason.  Belief doesn’t have to be reasonable.

The reality is(nothing like a dose of reality to kick you in the head), it doesn’t really even matter the words that are said.  Another person’s opinion of me or my situation doesn’t make it reality and it doesn’t change who I really am.  No, the triggering part is the words I say to myself.  What the fuck difference does someone else’s opinion of me make? It doesn’t make me less of a person.  It is my beliefs about myself that make me feel less off a person.

Therein lies the rub:  I know that logically.  It’s my feelz that get me into trouble.  Emotions –  fear, anger, sadness, joy, and yes, even love are the bane to the existence of logic and reason.  Yet none of us ever are always logical or reasonable.  I am not Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame.  I am fully human.  And as much as I value reason and intellect I have to admit I’m not always reasonable.  And I can surely do some stupid things.

We all can.  If that were not so there wouldn’t be so many normally intelligent people who are divorced twelve times, or who lose their fortunes betting on a long-shot, or who fall for some of the most far-fetched scams imaginable. It happens.  And you wonder how such smart people can do such stupid things.


I have a big pile of baggage. No, it’s not a matching set.  I forget about it until it falls out of the closet like an avalanche on my head.

All of us come each day and to each post with our own sets of baggage; with whatever is bothering us that day, or whatever is happening at home that day, or whatever exciting things are happening for us that day.  We each come to every post, no matter how hard we try not to, with our preconceived notions of how the world works; the oughts and ideals which we value and hold dear – not necessarily reality or how things really are.

Life is hard and it’s messy.  Each of has in our own minds our various issues and insecurities.  We have our own niggles, things that eat at us and erode our sense of self-worth and security.  We all have our own perspectives even if they’re flawed.  We can only see from our own lenses no matter how hard we try to put on the goggles of another.  We can’t ever truly know what another has experienced or the stuff they’ve been through.  It would serve us all well, especially me, to remember that.

24 thoughts on “The Bane of Reason

  1. Realisations come like juggling. It can take years of on and off practice, trying to get those three bastard balls in the air for one full clean rotation. Then, for whatever reason, it happens. You do it. Three go up, three are caught, and three are returned to the air, and caught again. From that moment on you’re a juggler. You can do it. You can never go back to not-being-a-juggler. And when you’re there you look back the non-juggler you and wonder, “How on earth did it take me this long??”

    Losing sight of this in other people can cause silly, but not malicious errors.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t think it’s completely possible to ignore another person’s opinion, especially when you are a compassionate person because you don’t see other people as less than yourself, you tend to see them as different. Also while we may, over time, be impacted less by others opinions much of our development early in life is centered around learning about ourselves through the behaviors and characteristics of others. How do I know I have a big nose? I’ve seen a wide range of noses. How do I know I’m smart? Well doing well on tests isn’t enough I have to know that there are many other people who don’t do so well on tests (assuming tests are a good assessment tool which is obviously questionable). Criticisms from others often shape our lives. Our parents will guide us to do certain things correctly, influence our emotional reactions to things, tell us to be mindful when we are busy falling in love, tell us to keep our cool when we get angry etc. I’m not trying to minimize what we gain from our experience, but simply saying we use information from both what we do and what others give us.

    People who say don’t let anybody bring you down, or don’t listen to what other people say about you tend only mean that when negative things are send, but we are all more than happy to care what other people think when they have something nice to say about us. And while you might be very self-actualized and know your faults, there are plenty who don’t. It might actually help for someone to step in and say…”Hey you know you are being an asshole”. lol I have been very torn down by people who I consider intelligent and thus whose opinion meant more to me. But as was discussed on the post you are referring to, intelligence and beliefs are not necessarily correlated.

    I was listening to an interesting podcast today about grit on NPR. And they were talking about how many people who are successful have grit, and persevere to overcome obstacles. But grit has a dark side. We my also persevere to the point that we are simply wasting energy on something that we will ultimately never master. It seems that there might be a sad fact in life that positive qualities may lead to actually negative results. Wisdom teaches you how to find that balance in life better. I used to a huge worrier and it would often cause me to stress about things that were beyond my control, but at the same time I felt like it was a more positive extreme than at the other end where I didn’t worry about anything. And my experiences have taught me to be more cognizant of the things that are within my realm of control and those that are not. My point is though the mistakes you’ve made, the energy you’ve wasted, the things you fail to see may just as easily be because of your strengths and not your weaknesses. Which really means that strengths and weakness are really a false dichotomy. It’s just the things you couldn’t see before, and life taught you how to see them and you are now better for it. No matter where you started from you’ve strove to become a better person and that’s the only quality in my opinion that really matters.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think other people’s words have a very profound affect on us. Emotional scars from words take far longer to heal, at least in my experience. I wasn’t so much trying to say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” as I was trying to say that sometimes some words hurt far more than they should because you still have wounds you thought had healed but apparently still need a bandage.

      It was more a self realization that perhaps I have some unresolved issues. I thought they’d been dealt with and buried and out of the blue they came screaming back at me. Most of the time I can take a step back and a deep breath and reason a situation out. In this particular one I didn’t even realize what had happened until I’d come a bit unraveled.

      I do agree, though, sometimes you just have to tell someone they’re just being a jerk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I see what your saying, and yes I think we’d like to get to a point where certain things don’t trigger us in a way that just makes us meltdown. It’s overall not a healthy thing. At the same time it doesn’t change the stupidity of what somebody said either. But we all would be better off being able to take those blows, because they’re going to happen no matter what. Like I said I appreciate your commitment to gowning as a person. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. {{{HUGS}}}

    Remember: it’s a process.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Self-doubt; is there any person who doesn’t have an attack of “How stupid can I BE?”, Ruth?? It’s part of being human, I think.
    I also think, though, that sharing your experience helps to shed light on the pervasive pressure religion puts on the citizens of certain areas; it cannot be stressed enough that religion, for many, is a way of life. Some know no other and can’t even imagine a life without their god. All one has to do is read the comments of the devoted on blog posts. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, no, probably not. It’s just that my self-worth had been eroded to the point that I believed myself to be utterly incompetent without Jesus. Apart from him I could do nothing. It had also been eroded by another pivotal person in my life. Without him I’d *have* nothing, I’d *be* nothing. So I think maybe it goes a little deeper than “how stupid can I be?” But maybe not, because I don’t know how people who haven’t had those experiences really feel.

      Anyway, I’m getting better as shaking it off. And those times of feeling that way are growing fewer and fewer, which is progress. I just thought I was over it, so it came as kind of a shock to me when it wasn’t.


      • Well, as I said at another spot, I think it’s important to share your stories . . . it puts a human face on a very common experience and one that many are still stuck in. You should feel good that you’ve climbed a very arduous incline.

        P.S. As I told you a couple of years ago, I’ve got a frozen boot I’d like to kick that person with. . 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  5. It was hard for me to tell whether this was just a rant or whether you, in some difficult way, were looking for help. I think there is a better way of reacting to life than the one you have described. I would like to help you find that way when you are ready. I think of you quite frequently and just thought today at lunch I should go to my Reader and see if Ruth was there. Voila! When you are ready I hope you think of me. Love, waltsamp


    • It was neither, really. I was basically working through my feelings and explaining what it feels like to be triggered, especially in a way I hadn’t expected. Of course there’s a healthier way of reacting to life than the one I described! The one I described is completely irrational. I normally do react to life in that healthier way. It’s not like I’m a walking basket case or anything. And I’m not looking for a bridge to jump off.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ruth,

    This was an outstanding walk through pure, beautiful, flawed, evolving (for the better, hopefully!) HUMANITY! Thank you. ❤

    When at least three-quarters of the human race accept and embrace this/our existence as immeasurably diverse AND immeasurably complex, THEN we should transcend our long long history of petty self and familial beliefs, becoming more compassionate, empathetic, patient, and encouraging to all, through LAUGHTER especially! 😉

    So to offer my own uniquely flawed lens of "baggage"… 😀 …I'll just say this…

    Exclusion makes us suffer. Inclusion makes us thrive.

    —- E. O. Wilson

    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Each of has in our own minds our various issues and insecurities. We have our own niggles, things that eat at us and erode our sense of self-worth and security. We all have our own perspectives even if they’re flawed.” Your description of each person’s insecurities is so true. I’ve always felt those “niggles” of doubt, that usually rear their ugly heads in the form of a voice that softly asks, “Shouldn’t I be…thinner, more successful, better at…” It’s good to remember that we’re not alone in our self-doubts and worries. Hopefully it will make us more compassionate toward others no matter what their beliefs are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, hopefully it will make us more compassionate. Unless, like in my example about, you get a little too self absorbed to realize that the other person in such a conversation has their own issues they might be working through, too. I try my best to keep that in view, but sometimes I just don’t.


  8. Ruth, many times I have asked myself how I could have been religious for so long. I think to a certain extent, I have a theory why it was so. With hindsight, it is quite easy to say it was stupid of me to actually believe snakes talked and walked but gave it up after they crossed words with a god. It never occurred to me at that point to question any of it. I was busy with other things. Plus religion only mattered at meal time and Sunday or whenever I felt like going to church.
    Kicking yourself in the butt for believing for so long or for living through a bad relationship isn’t very helpful. But looking at why it happened and writing about it may just help another person in a similar situation.
    I don’t think I have suffered any PTSD. I may have been lucky. I don’t even think I have any triggers so I may not be able to relate. Having said that, all I can do is to empathise.
    Keep well

    Liked by 3 people

    • Maybe I wouldn’t have had quite the PTSD-like trauma if I hadn’t had other mitigating circumstances that contribute to it. Had it just been religion alone I might not have those same feelings. I allowed myself(and others) to be abused by religion. Most of the time I think I’m so over it and then something just smacks me right out of the blue. These days it catches me totally off guard.

      Thanks, Mak. Emathy goes a long, long way, even if you can’t relate or haven’t experienced the same thing.


      • You will have it behind you someday. I don’t know exactly how, but I think associations are important. Spending time in the right environment, in this case, psychological environment is important.


  9. Fuck ’em. You’re awesome!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Well ruth, it only took your first line here about your so called voice of reason……………


    I read somewhere that you ‘demolished or tore to shreds ColorStorm……………’ in regard to the truth of God and scripture. Now where oh where is your laugh button?

    God and His word have NEVER, spell it, N.E.V.E.R. lost an argument to ants. But tkx for the laugh.


    • Excuse me, CS but there’s no such thing as (a) god and his word . . those are the words of MEN (with imaginations much the same as yours), and the question becomes “Which men?” and “When were those things written?”

      Just for the record, yes – indeed – Ruth and others ARE the voices of reason. DO pay attention.


    • I’m not sure I understand what you mean by, “…it only took your first line here about you so called voice if reason…”

      I don’t think that I have ever claimed to have torn you to to shreds or demolished you in regard to anything. Your complaint is with whoever said it.

      I haven’t had an argument with your invisible friend to win or lose. *shrug*


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