Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Jill Scott's 'Shame,' Self-Mythology, and Genetics

I am feeling Jill Scott's song "Shame" today. I mean the lyrics and attitude of the song, which is absent of the emotion shame. In particular, I'm feeling the line, "And you don't even know my name." However, I'm not thinking of that line in its literal context.

I'm thinking about the implications of saying "you don't even know my name" figuratively, meaning that someone does not see who you really are because they've adopted a negative opinion based on whatever issues they brought to the table and refuse to see that's  not you but their negative construction of you. Some people see only what they want to see when they look at another person, and if they have a vested interest in seeing you as the "bad guy" or "the devil," then they will block themselves from seeing anything about you or your actions that contradicts their assessment.

I'm sure you've seen it work the other way when someone you know has been deeply in love with a man or woman who lacks integrity and uses them, but the one in love is blind to the beloved's faults. But back to names and character.

The prayer of Jabez from the Bible gives some spiritual insight on a name as character and destiny. The name Jabez means pain. Although his appearance in the Bible is brief, we do know that his mother gave him that name because she had a painful labor. In context of biblical culture, one's name carried one's nature, infusing the individual with how he or she would progress through life. But, as the story goes, Jabez prayed and asked God to change his course, to free him from going the way of his given name:
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
I believe that whether we consider ourselves religious or not, call ourselves Christian, Jewish, Muslim or of some other faith, we all struggle with change when we want to change ourselves, our life course. It takes courage and self-discipline to write new stories for ourselves and not live out the stories our family, friends, bosses, or society in general write for us, or even the gloomy tale (negative self-mythology) we may have subconsciously written for ourselves.

Sometimes while attempting to change we get hung up on ideological/philosophical vs. scientific theories on this topic, issues of free will vs. our hard wiring. Can humans actually change themselves?

Humans can transform ourselves. However, I doubt that I can change myself when I'm going through a deeper depression, which zaps me of hope. So, depression can be a stumbling block, even a mountain because in order to transform ourselves, our minds must be in a state that lets us at least imagine hope. Depressed people, however, are not always able to see even a sliver of light, so they can't walk toward it.

Is it possible you suffer from a depressive disorder and it's interfering with your ability to move forward? You can check your symptoms here. Shove aside your pride, too, if that's what causes you to resist getting help. And if you realize that you are depressed and you have been for weeks or more, then you may need to take anti-depressants to pull through. Take them if you need them.

Whether you're depressed or not, I also recommend this book:  The Power of Habit. It's fascinating and inspiring.

I'd love to evolve into my best self and get to the place of confidence Jill Scott represents in her jubilant song, "Shame." Wouldn't you? But I also believe genetics play a role in how long we maintain a jubilant a state or urge ourselves into it. Yep, I believe there's a happy gene, even the one that influences how we fare in relationships. But I believe as well that we can fake out our brain's genetics, which is why I appreciate this TedTalk by Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extrayears of life.

And I know for a fact that music changes mood, which is why I was on the early train for Pharrell's hit song, "Happy." But isn't it unrealistic to think that our goal is to be perpetually happy? While I've used the word "happy" throughout this post, my goal is to be content and self-actualized. I may not reach that all my goals before I die, but I must continue my effort, the process of trying.

What about you? Have you been aware of those moments in your life when you need to change but have resisted that change or been afraid that you can't change at all?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)