Beware of therapy goals! (2) Envy and the Pitfalls of Validation

This article by another author presents envy as a sort of mirror of shame— a gap between what we have and what we want.

I think this is the grave peril of self-help as well as therapy to “work on things,” instead of doing inner work. Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, etc. are part of our biological hardwiring. This makes us goal-driven creatures. And evolution has programmed us with negative emotions when we fail to achieve goals.

What the author presents as “expectations” is what I often have written about as ideals or idealizations. If your self-help materials or therapies have you “work on something,” beware. High expectations can lead to more pain than good. Some schools of therapy urge you to take little steps, so you can keep feeding your addictive hardwiring with incremental achievements. I think that has its place as the “gentleness” I mentioned in my prequel; but it can make us prey to therapy. What you should be working on is understanding your inner self (see my prequel Beware of therapy goals! (1) You’re prey.)

Knowing your fuller self enables you to recognize more realistic boundaries around your expectations.

Knowing your fuller self also more realistically tempers our desires to achieve ideals.

We are programmed to unconsciously and reflexively identify desirable ideals. We say we want to be “more like her,” or we want to be more of “this,” or less of “that.” Knowing your self reveals how much of “this” you are, and how much of “that” you don’t need, and that you are not “her.” That can yield what that author presents as humility. And that puts a foot on the ship of contentment, and a little less suffering.

Wish to be more You, and as you discover that you already are You, disappointment with unachieved goals lightens.

To know how good You already are demands that you study who you are, and that doesn’t mean affirming your good of which you’re already conscious; instead, plumb the depths of your dark Shadow, because it’s the You of which you’re unconscious.

Your Shadow is the perfect “textbook” custom-tailored to You as the subject! Over and over throughout the history of the best human thoughts recorded in writing, we are repeatedly urged to know our own evil and potential for evil in order to be more good—AND content.

That author presents this as “Expectation vs Reality”

“Betrayal — the worst of all pains — comes when that expectation is broken. The pain and sadness you feel is your body telling you ‘HEY, that false reality you’ve been living in, yeah not the best idea to keep living like that,’ and adjusts your view of the world to fit whatever data point you’ve just learnt.”

“Validation is like truth without facts. You feel like your belief is right because other people say so, but that doesn’t hold up to reality.”

“The reason why validation is so dangerous is that it actually puts you in the same spot as the liar. You’ve created a false reality around yourself that’s fundamentally rooted in experience, not fact.
So again, we become prone to betrayal and suffering.”

[Regarding why you should plumb the depths of your Shadow:] ”
Humility — low expectation.
Entitlement — high expectation.
Entitlement is really just the expression of expectation. Humility on the other hand is trying to minimize that expectation, and feeling satisfied with where you are.
Since we’re so goal oriented, it’s hard to feel super humble all the time, because it implies a satisfaction with your current state… Our biology doesn’t like that. We’re wired to self improve… Buddha believed our pain is caused by our goal-oriented nature, and constant striving to fulfill our desires.”

“…the expected outcome… When we don’t achieve it, we become sad — a sign that we aren’t well conditioned to the reality of the universe, and that our expectations based off previous experiences were actually wrong.”

The unfortunate hard truth is that you may be the only one to blame, explained by the same author here.

Each one of us constructs a perspective on reality according to our experiences. Two people can look at the same thing very differently—AND both be very “right.” Envy is a powerful emotional signal not so much that you are wrong, but that reality has alternative perceptions and you’re preferring a change in your perspective.

FeelWithNeil wishes for you to see the alternatives because many may be “true,” not just yours, and not just yours at a given moment. There’s an infinite space for you to grow into.


More to come in this series on therapy goal pitfalls. To be alerted when published, at the bottom of this page under Leave A Reply, enter your email (remains private), and checkmark “Notify me of new posts via email.”

Neil D. 2020-11-03

Published by Neil Durso

Just another mid-lifer sharing the journey...

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