Dealing With Shit Days: A Philosophical Perspective


Do you ever have one of those days where one or more of your primary relationships seems fractured, painful, dysfunctional- or maybe your work seems meaningless, a patina of play-acting laid on top of the unfulfilled desires of your soul- or you feel stupid and slow, worried you may have an early form of senility or a brain tumour-or suddenly the beauty of the beautiful people- which normally means nothing to you- is making you suspect that there may actually be something terminally wrong with you by comparison? 

How do we respond? Well, first off I would suggest we recognize that we are vulnerable in this state. Things can easily go farther south. Indulging in old bad habits out of self-pity; being withdrawn, slothful, or irritable; or speaking an angry word. The first priority is not to make things worse. We should try to be patient, keep things simple, keep to our normal standards, and avoid complaint and the expression of anger. Last tip for not turning the dark turn into a total shit show: do not take your perceptions seriously. The way things seem to you is not the way they are. Objects in your fearview mirror may be much less important than they appear.

The next step is very important: do not feel bad about feeling bad. The reason is for this is very simple: feeling bad about feeling bad will make you feel: bad. Which you’re likely to feel bad about. Get the picture? For this reason you must accept that you are not feeling good. Do not resist. Today this is your cross to bear. By nature these things are impermanent and if you don’t make it worse it will pass. Whatever problems you think you have will then either no longer exist (because they weren’t real) or be better dealt with from a clear, balanced mental state, not a depressed, despairing, Nine Inch Nails type mental state.

After that? Practice ishwara-pranidhana. That’s Hindu for laying it at the feet of Christ. Or surrendering to Allah. Or visualizing the Buddha. I have my own go to- and you need one too. We need an anchor in the storm. Sometimes grabbing hold of this rope will not just keep us out of the quicksand (yes I know quicksand is much less common than saturday morning cartoons led me to believe) but lift us up in to the air where we may end up swinging around and singing, ecstatic in the blue. Or maybe not. But we won’t be in the quicksand anymore. 

What do we do once we are free of the sticky downward pull of entropy, despair and the devil’s deceit? Once the skies clear we still need to turn towards the beauty beyond us. If when the storm clears we stop clinging to the boat and jump into the water we’re asking for trouble next time. We need to look into the mirror of God’s presence if we want to keep our vision clear. We need the hand of the spirit rewriting our software if we want to minimize future crashes. The rewrite only happens if we keep submitting our heart to the change. That change comes with keeping our mind’s eye on the highest we can conceive. This highest acts like a magnet passed over a soup of metal, sucking out all the impurities.

 So, to summarize: 


don’t make things worse. This is the priority.

don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

turn beyond yourself; be with the beautiful.       



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Freelance journalist and writer. I have been published in the Forward, the Jewish Independent, Tikkun, Elephant Journal and elsewhere.

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