“We should go and proclaim without cease and remind people at every step of what we are: that our capacity for self-delusion has no limits and that anybody who believes anything is mistaken.” ~Czesla Milosz
Authentic growth requires conflict. Your precious beliefs must come up against a question mark as sharp as Occam’s Razor, or you will inadvertently fall into a prison of intellectual and spiritual stagnation.
Allow the razor-sharp question-mark to slice and dice its way through the beliefs you cling to for dear life. Allow it to shed the superfluous-certainty away from the juicy-uncertainty of what you believe to be true. The alternative is remaining stuck in fixed and rigid thinking. The alternative is being buried in all the bullshit.
Why is it all bullshit? Simply because we live in a meaningless universe. Now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t create our own meaning despite this fact, it just means that despite whatever meaning we manage to create, we will still always be living in a meaningless universe. No matter the created meaning, that meaning will always be “bullshit” (some things less bullshit than other things, of course) in the grand scheme of things. And that’s okay. It must be okay if we are to get out of our own way as a species and progressively evolve in a healthy way. We just have to keep it in perspective that it’s all bullshit to some degree or other.
But don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Be imaginative. Do your own deep questioning. Find your own epistemological crisis. Discover your own reason to use Occam’s Razor.
I’d lend you McGee’s Guillotine but I’m using it to write Self-inflicted Philosophy. So far, I’m only certain about the last sentence of the thousand-page treatise on the human condition. And it’s this: Then again, I could be full of shit.
Question your delusions:
“The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth. The best any human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day.” ~Scott Adams
We’re all delusional to some degree or another. But some people are more delusional than others. Those who are more delusional tend to get caught up in their delusions. They tend to codependently cling to them and become rigidly dogmatic.
But some people are less delusional than others. They are the ones who make a point of questioning their own delusions first and the delusions of others second. They are strategically skeptical and openminded, using logic, reasoning, and the law of probability like scalpels on the confused psychology of the human condition.
As far as allowing the journey to be the thing, the difference between questioning rather than clinging to one’s delusions is vital.
Don’t be a clinger. Be a questioner. Be curious about the human condition. Have a sense of humor about it. Keep your question-mark sharp and ready to cut through any amount of bullshit that comes at you. Especially your own.
Cull the cult of positivity:
“These mountains that you’re carrying, you were only supposed to climb.” ~Najwa Zebian
Happiness is overrated. “Good vibes only” is just plain laziness. Get out from underneath the burden of needing to be happy and positive all the time. That’s too much weight to be carrying around. Take it easy on yourself. Stop being so damn serious all the time. Especially about happiness, positivity, and love. You’re not perfect and you never will be.
Your “love & light” could use a little “tough love & darkness.” Forcing yourself to be positive and happy all the time is just an ego trap set up by the scared-shitless part of you that doesn’t want to face the shittyness of life. It’s a strategic safezone propped up by your cowardice and weakness.
Stop sugarcoating your bullshit. Stop demonizing sadness. You cannot be happy all the time. Happiness, like sadness, is a passing storm across the sky of the Self. Some storms are refreshing and invigorating, like happiness. Some are painful and rough, like sadness. Both can be overwhelming. And both are merely information. They just happen to be information that you “feel.”
As far as information goes, pain and sadness will teach you more than comfort and happiness ever will. Use that information to make yourself healthier, and happiness will become a convenient biproduct of your self-improvement. The best you can do is hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. And nothing prepares you for the worst better than the vital information gleaned from pain and sadness.
Transform your “triggers” into curiosity:
“When an honest man realizes that he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.” ~Unknown
Are you a precious little snowflake who gets triggered all the time (perhaps even the word “snowflake” triggers you)? Perhaps shock value art triggers you? Perhaps satire triggers you? Perhaps anything “the other side” says triggers you?
Transform your triggers into curiosity. Ask yourself: why do I feel so emotional about this petty little thing in the grand scheme of things? Is it merely a knee-jerk reaction due to my cultural conditioning, political bias, or religious brainwashing? Am I experiencing cognitive dissonance, or any number of other psychological fallacies? Am I reacting out of fear, cowardice, ignorance? Have I lost perspective that it’s all bullshit, especially my own beliefs? Am I capable of being brutally honest with myself?
Dig deep. Be playful about it. Have a sense of humor. Being curious about something, rather than just triggered by it, is always more rewarding. You will always gain more from a curious experience over a triggered one.
It’s a kind of emotional alchemy. Feel the trigger, honor it, let it fill you with petty anger and misguided rage, and then turn the tables on it by becoming curious about why it makes you feel so raw. Feel triggered, just act with curiosity. You may discover something about yourself that being triggered alone would never have revealed.
Don’t take it personal, make it motivational:
“Never relinquish your ability to doubt, reflect, and consider other options –your rationality as an individual is your only protection against the madness that can overcome a group.” ~Robert Greene
Do you have the tendency to take yourself or your beliefs too seriously? Do you cling to the precious bullshit of your beliefs so tightly that you feel injured at the slightest bit of pushback from other more questioning, nondogmatic, outside-the-box thinkers?
Get over yourself. Full stop! Get out of your own way. Let go of your ego’s attachment to your beliefs. Your current belief system is a rickety bridge built on quicksand at best. It’s stopgap pretense at worst.
But, and here’s the rub: that’s okay! Have a laugh at yourself. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have it figured out and neither did the fallible humans who came before you and created the flimsy structure of your belief.
Nobody has anything figured out. We are all fumbling, stumbling, fallible, imperfect beasts with big brains vainly attempting to pigeonhole our beliefs into untenable boxes that we lord over each other with ignorant terms such as “sacrilege” and “Satan” and “my god is the one true god.”
The key to staying ahead of the curve when it comes to bullshit (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) is to realize, deep down—balls to bones, ovaries to marrow—that nobody has anything solid figured out about the universe and the way it works. No religion, ideology, philosophy, or politics has the answer. It’s all questionable. It’s all precarious.
Question it all. Don’t take it personally. Make it motivational instead by daring yourself to question things to the nth degree. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Self-improve instead. Keep your bullshit and the bullshit of others in perspective by constantly reminding yourself that nobody (no matter how “enlightened”) and no ideology (no matter how “sacred”) will ever have the answers. Realize that the only “answer” is to question all answers (including this one, ad infinitum).
Read more articles by Gary ‘Z’ McGee.
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (It’s All Bullshit – But Knowing it Sets You Free) was originally created for The Mind Unleashed and is published here with permission. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.