The Maybe View of Life: Self Contempt
August 23, 2019
We sometimes say Maybe… Do you find yourself saying Maybe to everything or too often? In the past, I would answer many friends questions with a maybe… sounds familiar? Instead of a clear answer of YES or NO. This indecisiveness, this need to take a decision… Why do I have to take a decision… How about Y.O.U. A.L.L. just Leave me alone!?…
Where does this desire to be left alone stem from? This sense of separation, to keep away from others, to believe that I am a sort of person that needs to be on my own… One can create the belief form that one is (more) special, and that others aren’t, they are low lives, therefore I have my own justified answer why I can even be proud of my anti social ways… so where does it stem from?
…SHAME! Did you know that? I didn’t. It never even occurred to me to consider it’s effects!
From where does that Shame stem from? That is the question… Impressive how much a <<Maybe>> can tell about >> YOU…
Picture Golum (from Lord of the Rings) screaming …maybeeeee? That doesn’t seem right? Right? Like he would ever say that, he was very determined for what he wanted, and that consumed him till the end. Who could we picture screaming maybe? Can you find a villain or a hero that screams maybe? I can’t picture someone pursuing a very determined goal screaming maybe.
Imagine taking important life decisions and including a maybe variable…
Maybe is defined as: is an adverb, used to avoid giving a clear or certain answer to a question and has synonyms such as perhaps, possibly, conceivably, it could be (that), it is possible (that), for all one knows etc.
The usage of the word maybe can have a vast array of meanings. I will list here what this article will not address/not be about as there are many searches for the meaning of “maybe” that are done in the quest to determine a more clear answer for cases like:
– You asked a girl out for a date and she said maybe…
– Not wanting to offend a listener with a no or just being polite
– That you need to win time to look into something further until you can give back a clear feedback
– As a strategy taking a non-committal untrustworthy stance when asked to do something
– There is no binary answer as it’s a subjective question
Before we dig deeper, let me state the obvious in a non dogmatic way that might allure to a little form of a disclaimer:
It is O.k to use the word “Maybe”!
It is O.k to spend time alone.
It is O.k to prefer not being in crowds of people.
You do not have to feel guilty & ashamed because you use the word Maybe often!
No blame on you if you use it.
Now you might have a clearer idea where the topic is heading.
The Maybe Void
There are situations in life where you need to take an important decision that cannot be resolved with a permanent maybe stance while you wait for the situation to fix itself because it is so uncomfortable to handle. Or constantly shift around variable maybes trying to win time but never coming to a determined final answer leaving you into an oblivion of an ever growing downward maybe spiral…
If you don’t make a decision, someone else will do it for you and you will most certainly not like the outcome. Especially when the threshold of anxiety was high (in my case), MAYBE would dominate constantly. I would just hate it, to be put in a position where I have to return back an answer.
Let’s have a look what Maybe entails, this will be a completely different perspective and also completely different meaning to what I have listed above what this article and the meaning of maybe will not cover. It will be an interesting insight that can help you to change …even turn around your whole life gradually!
When Maybe is the sound of self contempt
It never occurred to me that taking the Maybe position in life is and can be a form of self contempt that deserves our attention! In other words, suffering from self contempt leads to using a lot of Maybes. Stunning huh!? What does self contempt mean? Here are a few definitions:
“the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration.” ~Oxford
“a feeling of scorn and lack of admiration for oneself” ~Collins English Dictionary
“the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn.” ~Dictionary.com
That’s not a nice way to treat and look at yourself.
Growth will not be the fruit of this and you are just hurting yourself more and more. In my most anxious states, I had to fight and not give up to get out of this pit. Regular meditation and positive affirmations helped me a great deal, which I still apply as of today. As my healing stepped in, I started to discard the word maybe, it seemed just natural to do that and I made it a practice to try to answer and take decisions faster, and say NO. I would use maybe when I am feeling lazy. It would also made me aware that I am lazy and I would quickly try to motivate myself to get up.
While for some people the word maybe means a no, some of my friends figured out that this was my way of saying yes. It was about time I took back control of my life and stand for what I mean. The Yes and No’s gradually came back.
How I came across this deeper and different meaning of MAYBE
This blog post title is from a chapter of the book “ZEN and the art of making a living – A practical guide to creative career design” by Laurence G. Boldt. In my notes, I wrote down that this is a must share with my friends.
I recently read the whole book and worked through most of its exercises. I discovered the first version of this book in a library in USA and told myself, while going through it, that this is a must read – so it went on to my to buy list.
I was glad to find
that the author had released an updated version when I was ready to
buy it as the first book is from the nineties. The updated version is
more adapted to our current times. It’s a big book printed in a big
font size full of quotes from great personalities with wisdom and
many exercises to help you find your path. While the book is big, if
you read it an hour a day you can complete it in a month or two. This
book can fulfill many purposes and offers many take aways for life.
It’s also a book you can come back to from time to time and a
pleasure to stroll through. It’s also a great read even if you are
not currently trying to figure out which career path to take or what
is the meaning of your life to YOU… For me, the book and it’s
exercises didn’t open my eyes regarding a career path to take, I
figured out something else, to focus on my health and well being
first and the rest will gradually come along since I come from an
entrepreneurial background and run my own company for more than 15
The book is written in a style that is fun to read. Less dry and formal. You feel like your dealing with an old wisdom rich human (oracle) that is sharing something great with you. A pleasure to listen to, in this case to read. It is well thought of, well structured and has a lot of depth. It must be the authors life work, a lot of effort went into this. You can tell it’s not something that was produced quickly. There are bits and pieces of content in the book where I had to do additional research on (just like for this post!), or look up what some words meant. I like this. I prefer a book that contains some content which isn’t too easy to grasp and requires some thinking or additional growth in life until I can get the meaning of it.
Some of the questions in the exercises, or their goals appear to me to be very US American, something adapted in their context which I felt wasn’t very useful for me which certainly will be for a person in the US. I found that to be a bit too industrial adapted to a grid like world in which I currently do not fancy living. I prefer my organic messy little town in the north of Mauritius to which a lot of wisdom in that book is definitely relevant!
Why will I quote from this book?
In my article below, I will quote a part of the book on the topic of Maybe. The reason I’m quoting it, is because it explains something that I didn’t know of, which I found to be very profound and an eye opener on a personality trait I wasn’t aware nor paying attention to. For me this chapter was a huge learning curve and I believe it can be very beneficial to share. In between some of the quotes I will write how it speaks to me. It could be that some of these occurrences and experiences are also familiar to you or speak to you as well. I welcome you to also share in the comments section below.
Now let’s dive into the other facet of MAYBE!
For me personally it is only when I discovered the meaning, awareness and implications of this unknown and different “Maybe” state in my own life, that it came to my attention it’s importance to reflect on it and bring in change!
This chapter was a highlight. Imagine if you can learn and tell in which state you find yourself from the words that you use (frequently for e.g.) and what they truly mean (like deeper meaning, or reading between the lines of your own life). Once you know that, you can progress from there on and decide, O.K. I do not want to find myself in this sort of Maybe state anymore. I will say NO to what I do not want and Yes if I only mean it. With practice you can say it even more quickly with determination avoiding that uncertainty time gap.
Kiss Maybe goodbye (the form of Maybe related to the topic that follows), climb the levels to a healthier being, and tackle the next ones (other stages/challenges) that will come along. I can only imagine the spiraling deterioration that the Maybe state brings and results from its consequential use.
You aren’t fighting a word only, it is something more profound and a bigger picture. I can see how a determined step to get away from the Maybe state can bring gradually an added punch in curing and winning a bigger battle… For me it was not only anxiety related, it can be something completely different for you. There are some common grounds and we will be looking at this next.
“It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning.” ~P. D. Ouspensky
“No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.” ~Alan Watts
What Love and Shame can tell us about a Maybe view of life
As mentioned above, shame is on what the maybe view of life is built on and not on love.
Quoting from the book: “The need to be separate comes out of the belief that humanity is a low level of life. You must separate yourself from that lot. What makes you different is what makes you good.”
I can’t believe it that I even had friendships built on this underlying basis! Or to be the main foundation block to bring us together, like this would be the mutual connector or peer group anchor. This would only confirm and make a stronger case to believe that I am/We are right, the right to be not part of other low lives. How judgmental!
|◈ Confidence |
◈ Identify with other humans
|◈ Doubt |
◈ Separate from other humans
Quoting from the book: “Although few would dare to say it so bluntly, the internal rationalization goes something like this: “The normal run of folks comprise a sort of contemptuous mob. I would be in that mob were it not for my smartness, holiness, coolness, ‘wealthiness’, ‘causiness’, (whatever it is that separates me from the masses).” Only when we fail to LOVE ourselves as we are do we feel the need to separate ourselves from the rest of humanity.
If we don’t meet the world with LOVE, we meet it with DEMANDS.
We make DEMANDS upon life, demands upon ourselves, and demands upon others.
We will love when our demands are met and not a minute before.
If life were more to my liking, I would love it;
if I were more to my liking, I would love me;
if others were more to my liking, I would love them.
In the meantime, I will hold back, and I will hold on to what I think distinguishes me from the rest of the rabble.”
What does contemptuous mean?
“expressing or feeling a lack of respect” ~Cambridge Dictionary
Manifesting, feeling, or expressing deep hatred, disdain or disapproval, feeling or showing contempt.
Synonyms: abhorrent, disdainful, scornful
so contemptuous mob means: “Being contemptuous of someone or something means that you’re combining a deep dislike for them with condescension.” Link: https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/contemptuous
“Contempt is a noun that describes the feeling that someone is beneath you or the state of being despised. The –ous ending turns contempt into an adjective. So contemptuous means “full of contempt, showing scorn.” It refers to the person or thing showing the scorn.
Something contemptible is worthy of scorn, like the contemptible jerk who’s mean to your sister; but contemptuous is full of it, like the contemptuous look you give that guy as he speeds away in his gas guzzler.” Read more here Link: https://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/contemptible-contemptuous/
Quoting from the book: “When one tries to stake his identity on some distinctive possession, he is on insecure ground. It matters not whether the possession is an accumulation of wealth or knowledge, a title, a career, a social status, a marriage partner or a cause – it is sure to bring him anxiety. The owner become anxious about losing his possession because he equates this with losing his distinctive identity. Once more, he is confronted with an image of himself indistinguishable from the mob he so deplores.
“Doing good” can become a distinctive possession that separates you from the “masses.” That is why the motive of the hero must be love, first, foremost, and always love. Love for existence – your own and that of others. If you secretly hate yourself, but you’re “trying do do good,” your hatred will color the water. You can only give to others what you experience yourself.
The hero must first be a lover. Then she may attempt to heal others: their minds with high ideals, their emotions with loving feelings, their bodies with nourishment and touch. But these things are secondary. It is the existence that she loves, and it is the love that makes the difference. Mother Teresa’s work with the poor and the dying was certainly a heroic work. She emphasized to those in her order the importance of doing their work with a spirit of joy and a feeling of love. She said, “If you can’t do it with love and cheerfulness, don’t do it at all, go home.” She understood that you can’t heal the particular need while holding bitterness in your heart. Heroic love embraces all that we typically reject in the world, in ourselves, and in others.”
“The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.” ~Mother Teresa
Quoting from the book: “The test of our spiritual development is not the zeal with which we profess our beliefs, but our willingness to love others and ourselves exactly as we are.”
Is my friend toxic or am I being toxic to my friend by trying to fix him?
Yesterday I went for a long walk with a buddy where I listened to him talk most of the time. Which lead to some observations of my own self, not to a level of a catharsis necessarily, yet which I found quite interesting as there were some moments I was starting to feel annoyed. I asked myself, why am I annoyed? I also noticed, listening without trying to figure how and what I can fix was less draining than constantly trying to figure out the solutions of how to fix a person… We men have a tendency to listen that way. Sounds familiar to you as well?
To put you into the context; he has a lot of health issues (some of these health issues result from a way of life that can be improved) and struggles in life, he has gained a lot of weight, sits 8 hours a day in front of a screen from which results bad body posture from which result other health issues. He also has to manage a family of several kids and his time management also looks quite messed up meaning doing sports comes last or often gets neglected and a junk food meal takes it’s place. He has come already a long way from the depths of a depression, which deserves an encouraging appreciative compliment, especially as a friend. I can see how he is fighting and giving his best in his capacity trying to make it. Gain back control over his life, first he fixed his financial issues, now he is working on fixing his health issues. But… I haven’t seen any progress in that area since a …very long time! When you live a way of life where you are damaging yourself, it will also affect others around you, especially those that love you! It hurts. What do hurt people do? Sometimes they walk away… Because they cannot endure the pain anymore…
It’s quite easy to take a judgmental stance and start giving advice. Why I felt annoyed at times is that I would have liked him to progress faster and be more disciplined in the way he lives his life as he could reap the rewards that seem to slip through his fingers constantly. Anger isn’t to far away, just lurking around the corner trying to instigate into my mind a repulsive rebuke. That little voice is warming up a cauldron where the steam is making a cloud code that says: Just tell your friend he sucks, to shut up and stick to a plan!
Harming, that is hurting your friend isn’t going to make things better. I came to the realization that while we were doing our walk, that what matters is also my presence, and being a friend, the friend can talk to, without me analyzing and judging each of his struggles and then (NOT always) coming up with a solution. Vice versa I would also just spend a good time with a friend that listens to me, we all have our struggles. If I know when I meet a particular person that this person will keep giving me advises, I will probably prefer to not meet that person for a nice leisurely walk. Sometimes, the best way to help someone, is just to be there for them. They quite often know themselves what they go to do in life!
That said, it’s not a legitimization of enduring a toxic relationship or a friendship that has turned toxic. You’ll have to evaluate that for yourself. And it’s not your role to be constantly the emotional trash dumpster.
Do you want to kick your friend deeper into hopelessness or do you want him to succeed? Do you want to scold your friend because you are annoyed that he isn’t successful or do you want him to achieve and get closer to goals in the betterment of his life in order to become successful again? I concluded that by being a good listener without judging him or trying to make remarks on how to live his life was the way to complete our journey which ended with a nice meal. That said, there are also times where you have to take a position and say the truths that need to be heard if you see your friend about to walk against a wall…
Let go of trying to fix stuff! Just love them as they are. …yet be wise to know when it’s a good time to also have some quiet time for yourself!
Quoting from the book: “Keeping this in mind helps us understand how so many wars have been fought in the name of religion, or how seemingly good intentions or high ideals often bring destructive results. The fault is not with the religion or the ideal, but with the practitioner’s contempt for humanity and the resulting need to cling to some identity.”
What does cynic mean?
“A person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honourable or unselfish reasons.”
Example: ‘To us ageing cynics Fathers Day is just another materialistic calendar date when people spend hard earned cash on silly presents and cheap cards.’
“A person who questions whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.”
Example: ‘Ambitious plans to build tunnels under the runway and the River Almond have been attacked by cynics, who believe the project will never be approved.’
Reference: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/cynic from Oxford
Quoting from the book: “It is contempt for humanity that must be overcome, not our impulse to spiritual awakening, or our desire to love and serve one another. If we are to survive and flourish as a species, we must remake, not only our society, but ourselves as individuals. Ironically, we cannot succeed in remaking ourselves until we accept ourselves as we are. Only in love will we find the courage to be what we truly are. Only with love do we say yes to life.”
What is the meaning of Catharsis?
“A catharsis is an emotional release. According to psychoanalytic theory, this emotional release is linked to a need to relieve unconscious conflicts. For example, experiencing stress over a work-related situation may cause feelings of frustration and tension. Rather than vent these feelings inappropriately, the individual may instead release these feelings in another way, such as through physical activity or another stress relieving activity.
The Meaning of Catharsis
The term itself comes from the Greek katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing.” The term is used in therapy as well as in literature. The hero of a novel might experience an emotional catharsis that leads to some sort of restoration or renewal.
Catharsis involves both a powerful emotional component in which strong emotions are felt and expressed, as well as a cognitive component in which the individual gains new insights. The purpose of such catharsis is to bring about some form of positive change in the individual’s life.”
“The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.”
Example: ‘When did you last get that chariot ride of emotion and catharsis that Aristotle thought was so good for us all?’ Reference: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/catharsis from Oxford.
Use the noun catharsis to refer to the experience a person can have of releasing emotional tension and feeling refreshed afterwards.
Conceived by Aristotle as the cleansing effect of emotional release that tragic drama has on its audience, catharsis stems from a Greek verb meaning “to purify, purge.” Today, it can be used to describe any emotional release, including a good long laugh or cry that is followed by a sense of balance and freshness afterwards.”
Example: The two biggest strengths of “Avengers: Endgame” are its increased focus on character development and, consequently, its ability to deliver catharsis for fans of the aforementioned characters.
Salon Apr 26,
Well explained in this video:
Catharsis Cathartic – Catharsis Meaning – Catharsis Examples – Formal English
For those who also like writing; CATHARSIS – WHAT IT REALLY MEANS
Using Catharsis to reach a turning point from Fear and Anxiety
The book describes into greater depths the heroic model. How to create identification with the heroic model and while embarking onto such a journey you can reach a state of catharsis which can help you to move away from fear and the defensive hesitation that holds one back to fully participate in life. It took me a long while to grasp this. While the heroic term also raised some doubts in me…
Quoting from the book: “The fear of pain and death makes most of us but shadows of what we might be. Yet even suffering, mixed with love, with purpose, with joy, becomes heroic – an exaltation of the human spirit.”
Recently me and my buddy got lost while hiking, it was a moment where I had to reflect on death and accept that on that day I could potentially face it (of course we can also die in many other circumstances just that we don’t always reflect on it everywhere!), coming to the realization and acceptance that death exists and that this might be my last day, it gave me a boost to continue the fight to find my way back home. If there wasn’t much to loose, I might as well give my best! After the long struggle, finding back the path from which we started was my catharsis moment. You can read my story here: my getting lost hike in the gorges of Mauritius!
Quoting from the book: “Heroic action cuts the bounds of fear and triumphantly asserts that there is a spirit in us that is noble and mighty. This loving spirit exists within all life, including yours. The heroic life lives in dormancy in all and in active expression in the great men and women.”
Identifying with the Hero
Quoting from the book: “Identification. We must be able to identify with the hero as being fundamentally like ourselves. Otherwise, heroic action is dismissed as the peculiar behavior of some peculiarly great individual. This behavior is worthy of admiration, to be sure, but not capable of imitation by the ordinary man and women.” He goes on to say that even if we aren’t equally gifted or talented we are all still able of heroic action.
Here he describes a method of how you can identify with heroic models:
Quoting from the book: “1. By realizing that the greats of history were human beings, cut from the same cloth as we.
They put their pants on one leg at a time. They had to deal with the same emotions and inner doubts, the same outside pressures and concerns.
2. By seeing that they are all around us.
Every day, many thousands of so called ordinary people are involved in heroic service. Most of this service goes unrecognized and unnoticed by the wider public because it does not fit with the conventional view of what is valuable and important”
Here he explains how identification with a hero model can help you reach catharsis which in turn can help you distance yourself from anxiety and fear that is holding you back. It is an interesting way that I didn’t know of and neither ever considered that it could help me in my quest in liberating myself from the chains of a constant anxious state.
Quoting from the book: “The point of telling the hero’s story is that our identification with the hero allows us, at least for a time, to move beyond the fear and defensive hesitation that hold us back from full participation in life. We experience what the Greeks call catharsis. Catharsis doesn’t mean rant and rave and scream and yell, and then there is catharsis. The cathartic experience is the release experienced in the cessation of the emotions that ordinarily dominate life, namely fear and guilt. Catharsis happens when we identify with the character and move along his emotional track until he and we are free of guilt and fear.
That’s why the stories from ages old have been told – so that you might feel, if only for an instant, what it is to be so bold. So ALIVE.
In that you find life. You find bliss. You find courage. You can feel it.
Where did it come from? It was there all along, beneath the clouds of shame and fear. Cathartic identification has temporarily blown the clouds away. Now you feel the pure brilliance of your being. Courage isn’t something you have put on. Fear is something you’ve taken off. You feel the power and grace of your naked Self.”
Heroes are for kids. That’s OK. I don’t see myself as an adult in the need to indulge into the idolatry of a hero. We have to take it with a pinch of salt what the author means here about the heroic model. I don’t think that he means us to find a hero figure to adore, it’s more about heroic action – to find a way how we can release the hero in us. Definitely people that have done something heroic, you can admire their heroic act and learn from them to become your own hero. But to admire the whole of a person as an idol because of an heroic act is something completely on another level which I do not aspire and I don’t think that this is his message either.
In dealing with anxiety, I haven’t (I mean in the past…) come across an instant fix that would instantly change my anxious state into a relieved one, it’s possible with training from meditation for example.
Paying attention to my breathing can bring me relief in crowded places (NOW!). I wished it would have been possible the day the struggles came up. It would also not have been possible to have a quick fix because the route in life I took, took long as well, to spiral down so deeply into the depths of anxieties and panic attacks, that got me there. Thus I had a new long journey to take, to heal.
Pills were out of the question I told myself. I didn’t want to take any sort of pills to get to see the light at the end of the tunnel as that would be a risk of high addiction for me. Which would make matters worse!
It was and is a process of learning to live with anxiety and applying various life changes that gradually give you techniques and tools to cope and bring you back into being able to lead a normal life instead of being constantly in a fear, flight and fight-adrenaline mode, which is so paralyzing and detrimental to your overall health.
Over time my extreme anxious state has calmed down into a peaceful state. We are speaking of 3 years (sigh!). I haven’t found any particular hero to identify with yet. I have listened to many interesting people speak as this is now abundantly available over youtube, yet I haven’t associated this with anything relating to the heroic model. I never really fancied heroes, at least not the type and image portrayed in the medias. I find for example Spiderman, the Avengers etc. fun to watch, but not an inspiration! So, if I think about it, a hero persona to begin with, for me could be a successful entrepreneur… And other persons who in history have been courageous. (Without turning that person into an idol! We are clear on that.)
Anyways; I didn’t really focus on that quest – of digging into this heroic model thing. I It is an exercise I look forward to (to keep in mind, discuss with friends) and when I will go through the book again as it’s a great book to get back to after a while. I can picture re-reading the book within a year. The book goes into greater lengths and depths on four symbols of archetypes which are the hero, magician, warrior and scholar. Read the book to learn more about the hero and other archetypes. The hero has the creative power of decision making.
While I didn’t experience a catharsis that set me free from my anxieties, learning about the hero archetype model, was and is a welcomed hope which I recorded in my subconscious. Considering the option that you can work on your identity, letting go of what is toxic and healing along the way, was a nice encouragement to realize that there is still hope.
I have now come to a point of gratitude. When I can sit by the beach and relax, or jog on the soccer ground and cycle home totally relaxed – I try stay in the present moment and feel so thankful that I can simply just be at peace. Over these last 3 years, doing the very same activity of swimming, jogging and sitting by the beach was accompanied with fear, panic attacks and a ruminating mind driving me nuts where the whole experience wasn’t fun at all. This whole adventure with anxieties is a story of its own that I will blog about someday.
I hope this article on the view of Maybe will enrich your journey! Maybe has it’s use cases and there is no obligation to become more dogmatic in order to avoid it’s use. Feel free to share with me below in the comments section.
→ You can buy the book here:
Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design – 2009 By Laurence G Boldt (Author) | You can find it on Amazon.
→ So how do you create more compassion for yourself?
→ An interesting article by Preethi Kasireddy on: Stop attaching your identity to your ideas which goes well the the chapter on identity above in the text.
The Maybe View of Life: Self Contempt by Dietmar Reigber