Hey everyone, I wanted to share something that’s been helping me recently, and I think it may help some of you as well.
For the past ten years, I’ve been suicidal, or at least really, really wanting to die. My grandpa, who was my rock, died unexpectedly when I was fifteen. It started me down the road to chaos so much so that when I graduated high school, I had no plans for my future but to wait for something to kill me.
So that’s been my approximate last ten years. I’ve had moments where I’ve gone closer or farther towards that edge of ending it all, but I never really improved, so to speak. I say though, one person has really been helping me get through it all, and that’s Jordan B. Peterson.
If you haven’t heard of him, Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist who rose to fame and infamy alike when he made a stance that he would not use the made-up gender identity/gender expression pronouns if they were written into Canadian federal law that he must use them when addressing people.
There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, because on the surface that makes him sound like he’s a transphobic bigot, but I assure you that there is much more depth to the story. He actually means that if a trans-person asked for themselves to be called he or she, he would do that, but not the made up words like “Xe” or “Xer” or the neutral “they” because he argues that you can’t abandon the specification between the singular and the plural.
Anyway, one of Peterson’s aims is to fix individual people, seeing that we’re in a tumultuous, chaotic time. One thing he highlights is that Friedrich Nietzsche’s diagnosis that through the rise of rationality in the late 1800’s, Western culture was blowing up the foundations that it was built upon, specifically the Judeo-Christian mixed with ancient Greek values.
One thing that Nietzsche said was that, now we will create our own values separate from the past. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung then took that idea to task, arguing that by and large, humans can’t create their own values (and be honest, what New Year’s Resolution did you stop after a week?). Jung then came up with a series of archetypal stories that seem to run through almost all of Western culture, from traditional religious sources to mythology. Jung believed that acting out these stories in your own life inherently helps you find meaning.
Then re-enter Peterson, who is trying to make the ideas of Jung more accessible to people. One such story is the idea of a dragon coming to wipe out your village. Jung argues that it’s better to go face the dragon in its lair before it comes to yours. Now, it is a dragon, and it may eat you, but it’s better to go out that way than waiting in your thatch cottage for it to burn too along with it.
I think that Peterson is right; Western culture is going through an existential crisis right now, and it’s not so obvious as to why. Peterson argues that it’s due to the Postmodern Neo-Marxist types and their insistence that there’s no such thing as objective truth in the world, and that we’re all in our separate identity camps and all we can do is fight, because that’s all life is; an eternal struggle for power between the oppressors and the oppressed.
Peterson argues no; there is objective truth and a true human ethic, and that’s the acceptance that life is suffering, and it is tainted by malevolence caused by our own actions. The ethic is to accept that universal truth, and then to try to contain the malevolence in the world in spite of your own suffering. What else better is there to do?
After hearing these ideas, they personally lit a fire under me. I’ve got a lot of reasons to be bitter and resentful about my own being, but I also can’t allow myself to make it worse. I’ve dropped about 70 lbs in weight, going from 265 to currently 195 in 8 months. I left my last job about 5 years ago, and now I’m hoping to get one with my brother-in-law at the end of May. And last Saturday, for the first time in my life, a beautiful girl told me that she has feelings for me.
I’m not saying that whatever you’re going through is ok; it’s not ok. Most likely, it’s incredibly messed up. But there is a way out, and a way up. For me, it was listening to someone who finally made sense in an increasingly senseless world.
So here’s my attempt to slay the dragon, and share some of the gold.
TL;DR - Watch the link, it’s about 10 minutes long.
Editing the link, if you try to click on mobile it throws an error, so just paste it and re-add the period between “www” and “youtube”.