I’m Not Blogging to Save the World

by Melissa Karnaze

Globe in handMindful Construct is not about saving the world.

Or saving people from their pain.

It’s here to inspire readers to save themselves.

And grow from their pain.

It’s a subtle difference, but one worth mentioning.

Blogging is about boundaries

Here’s a simplification of the blogging process:

    • A blogger publishes their opinions (as do practically all other writers)
    • Readers are free to agree, disagree, or do a little of both (voiced through comments or some other means)

When you create content and release it into the world, you notice the subtleties in how readers respond.

In order to blog with stamina and stick to your topic — you need to develop the right set of listening skills.

You need to know who you’re really writing for. Which means spotting out those who just want to ruin the party.

Yes, blogging is about connecting people, ideas, and crossing boundaries. But bloggers only have so much time and creative energy each day.

You have to channel those efforts to the right audience if you want to stick to your vision.

Writing for the right audience may seem like ignoring the wrong audience. Oftentimes it is.

I respond to the wrong audience when doing so can benefit the right audience. By juicing negative blog comments into constructive articles.

People who attack me don’t get my sympathy

It’s obvious when readers disagree with me. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing.

But I have low tolerance for readers who take that to the next level. Who come by and personally attack what I write about — which is also a personal attack on the readers I write for.

It’s like walking your dog, stopping by my site, and letting your dog do its thing all over my lawn without bothering to pick up after yourself.

It’s a mess and rude. But not only that, it’s an insult. Like saying,

“Gee, I see that you have some articles here on the positive aspects of emotions, but I’m going to ignore all that and just spew about the negative aspects because I’m that fed up with life.”

That kind of person is not the kind of person I want to work with.

That’s the kind of person I want to alert readers about.

It’s a microcosm of the Mindful Construct model of emotional health:

Mindful Construct model of emotional health:
Deconstruct what the matrix tells you about distrusting your emotions and favoring “logic” instead. Pay attention and learn from your negative emotions, because they are your tools for growth.

The microcosm model of emotional health, found within Mindful Construct community interaction (i.e. comments):
While articles are geared toward the those wanting to work with their emotions, the naysayers are welcome to attack. When they attack, they attack the Mindful Construct model of emotional health, and indirectly attack the readers who are here to learn about and explore that model. Deconstruct what the naysayers tell you about distrusting your emotions and doing all that other stuff that undermines the Mindful Construct model of emotional health. Pay attention to and learn from the naysayers’ dysfunctional arguments — and especially deconstructing them — because they can be tools for your growth.

“Compassion” can lead to emotional suppression

“But the naysayers are in pain!” you may say. “That’s why they attack.”

Indeed, those who attack a constructive outlook on emotions have a dysfunctional relationship with their own emotions.

However, that’s no excuse for behavior meant to hurt or rile others.

If a boy hit a girl on the playground, and the girl came to you in tears, you’d think twice before telling her: “Cheer up, he’s doing it because he likes you!” or “Don’t worry, he’s unhappy about something else,” or “You can forgive him — he lives in a bad part of neighborhood.”

When someone attacks you in your life (it could be a minor offense), you can either feel the pain or subdue it.

Telling yourself the compassion story of “Oh, but he’s in a bad place/ Oh, but she must be having a rotten day/ Oh, but he clearly misunderstood me” — so as to talk yourself out of being blunt — is an excellent way to subdue your emotional response.

Why? Because it’s designed to distract you from feeling what you are actually feeling. From registering a boundary violation. From taking their actions personally.

But that’s not the only reason why I opt for a different response than the common notion of compassion.

I’m writing for the fighters

There are way too many articles to write than there is the time. That’s actually a blessing in disguise, it forces me to choose — who I write for.

I could spend my days trying to “save” the entire planet, and trying to “nurse” all those types that outwardly declare that they disagree with my perspective on emotional health — because goodness knows “they need it the most.”

That would be royal waste of my time, and it wouldn’t be all that compassionate either.

Anytime you try to make someone feel better. Or you try to change their mind so that they don’t feel crummy (by using compassion stories or some other deflection). You disrespect their right to their own attitude, even if it’s a toxic one.

That’s the opposite of compassion. It’s called caretaking, or enabling, and a common form of codependency.

I can’t afford to caretake naysayers. It sets a dysfunctional example. It interferes with writing for the fighters. It detracts from the goals of the site.

I’ve said before that I’m not writing for the skeptics, the technically-flamers, or the incoherent arguers.

I’m writing for the fighters.

Those who care about response ability and creating their life as a mindful construct.

The fighters have to deal with the skeptics, technically-flamers, and incoherent arguers every single day.

That’s what’s on my mind when naysayers stop by. How can we look at this from a perspective that will help us fighters better deal and better cope?

I’m not here to make everyone feel better

So if people come by my site to moan, complain, or attack, I likely won’t be rushing to their side to try and make them “feel better.”

I respect what I’ve built enough to sort out those who acknowledge it, and those who want to invalidate it.

I’m not here for the critics. But when they leave a comment that can be deconstructed — in order to broaden perspective on emotional health — I’ll juice it. Simple as that.

If that’s too blunt to stomach, or it makes you squirm in your seat, there’s probably something worth looking at. As in, some negative emotional reaction. Will you work with it to learn more about yourself?

“But deconstructing comments isn’t nice”

Deconstructing anything isn’t nice. That’s why dysfunctional worldly systems fuel on — undeconstructed — every single day. Is that nice?

If you can’t talk openly about what people publicly and usually anonymously say on the world wide web, how can you expect to confront in-flesh people in your face?

“Nice” can be a self-destructive concept, carefully sheathed by social programming.

“But it’s not nice!” can really mean…

“Oh, but I don’t want to have to feel my negative emotions!” or “Oh, well I’d rather put the blame on you than take ownership for why I feel so affected (and thus having good reason to objectively assess my own mindful definition of “niceness”).”

And therein lie the workings of emotional suppression.

If you’re uncomfortable by my bluntness, you can always ask

Comments often indicate discomfort due to my bluntless in articles and comments. But they usually handle it in a roundabout way.

Such as by:

    • Disagreeing without acknowledging my points
    • Going off-topic as a distraction
    • Reprimanding me for my actions (which can be passive aggressively indirect) or stating how I “should have” conducted myself differently
    • Stating the opposite of an article topic (e.g. saying “Oh, everything is wonderful!” when the article is about the not-so-wonderful)

If an article or comment rubs you the wrong the way, start there.

You have an in-context opportunity to look at something upsetting or displeasing and bring it out in the open in a mindful way.

You’ve already been trained to suppress any inkling of discomfort. Stuff it down, down, down, until you can no longer feel (or think) straight. That’s the society — the matrix — you were born into.

Why not use this community as an opportunity to break your training?

I’m not here to play nice, therapist, mommy, or savior. But you can always ask questions if you don’t understand my actions or want some clarity.

Genuine questions come from a willingness to exchange perspectives for a moment, as well the courage to listen. Defensiveness and offensive arguing build walls, but heartfelt discussion builds character and legacy.

Every person has a choice — the red pill or the blue pill.

Response ability means nothing to you except in practice.

If you’re ready to practice response ability instead of just talking about it, you’ll find this community to be great training ground.

About the Author: Melissa Karnaze founded Mindful Construct to work with other fighters in exploring emotional resilience. Sign up for her free 10-part e-class on how to work with your emotions, which comes from understanding how your life is your construct.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Cory October 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Damn. Wow!

I’m going to have to comment on this article later after I stop shaking. You’ve thrown down more than a few lightning bolts to wake up the dead. I’m going to have to stop and think about this, seriously… TBC…

Evan October 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Hi Melissa, I’m not sure how you think/feel about compassion.

I think it is possible for us to feel compassion for others and our own pain.

I agree with you that it is important to not suppress our feelings (in the name of compassion or anything else).

janwillem veenman October 16, 2010 at 5:24 am

Hi Melissa,
I love you! This is your view on compassion, athenticity and well directed sharing of wisdom. And it is mine. These are such gems, that you don’t want waste it on people who are likely to waste it, or worse, misuse it. I love your attitude. Not the fairytale blossoming lotus talk, but a straightforward no nonsense fighting for the just cause, leaving the ignorant ignore, critisize and frantically attack.
I’d like to translate your peace in Dutch and spread your word. Do I have your permission?

Melissa Karnaze October 16, 2010 at 9:41 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts janwillem! I’ve read about “letting go” of those who want to ignore, criticize, and frantically attack in codependency-recovery type books, but blogging just takes the lesson to a different level.

Feel free to translate the article into Dutch, that would be great! I ask that you keep an attribution link to the original article, and send me the link when it’s done. :) Thanks!

(If you meant translating more than one or a few articles, please get in touch with me via the contact page and we can discuss through email.)

Anon October 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I am one of those who left a compassion comment on that other post. I should have waited to comment until I was in a more organized mental space where I could have put down ALL of the thoughts I was having intead of just the first one that started the ball rolling. Of course, you are totally right in what you are saying here. The rest of what I was thinking in that comment was that the person who was the subject of the last post was only saying what he said because he is trying, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid his own emotional reality. That is what I believe his motive is – feelings are painful, so discount them even though they will keep living below the surface (that’s the part he might not know yet). Sure, reality can be ugly, but it keeps coming back in some often destructive and distressing form until it is accepted. Which seems to me to be the very excellently made point of your blog (and there are not enough people who address this as you do). My comment did express my understanding of what I feel is at the root of that person’s remarks to you, but I should have gone further and explained my position more fully. Please accept my belated apology for a bungled comment. It didn’t completely come out the way it really was as it rolled around in my head. Also, as someone who was once horribly screwed up by ‘fake mindfulness’ (even its catch-words are still PTSD triggers for me), I thank you for your posts and for sharing them. Reality is good. We need more advocates for the validity of emotional reality.

Melissa Karnaze October 17, 2010 at 10:09 am

Thank you Anon. We definitely need more advocates for the validity of emotional reality.

“The rest of what I was thinking in that comment was that the person who was the subject of the last post was only saying what he said because he is trying, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid his own emotional reality.”

This is usually the first thing that registers when I get such a comment. Soon after is, “Okay, now back to the readers that are fighters — can this be turned into something that can mobilize them?”

I read some of your blog posts (linked to in your other comment) articulating double-bind and mindfulness, it really got me thinking. I didn’t know that former clients of DBT lived through the contradictions of mainstream mindfulness. Thank you for tapping me into that.

I think the critical discussion on mindfulness needs to continue, as it’s only becoming more mainstream and pop psychology.

Evan October 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Robert Masters has recently written a book called Spiritual Bypassing about using mindfulness as a cop-out. I haven’t read it myself but those I respect say it’s great.

Cory October 18, 2010 at 8:52 am

This is a groundbreaking article for me. I feel like this moment is setting a new precedent for this website/movement. And, as I said before, I feel deeply rattled.

Just when I thought that there may be nothing more to learn about emotional resilience, an article like this is written and lets me know that, not only do I have a lot more to learn, but much to apply.

We ARE talking about boundaries here. And it’s a sinking feeling to witness myself and others who I assume are regular readers of this blog, to come swooping down in defense for a commenter who had nothing of any value to communicate except “fuck you” basically.

Why did this happen?

Are we really so many miles removed from strong boundaries, emotional toughness, congruent integrity?

Its a huge discrepancy how we’re quick to point out the poisonous behavior of a politician or a celebrity, yet when it comes to someone trolling the internet we (perhaps those of us attracted to self-help material) are quick to put on the compassion hats.

That’s hypocrisy.

I do believe that online discussions like this are some of the most valuable conversations that are taking place in the world. I don’t think this kind of talk is happening at your average dinner table, campus cafeteria, or even formal debate. These issues are being hashed out on the Internet, because the web is a self-reflection of humanity’s dark unconscious.

So this is training ground, as Melissa says. These forums are preparing us for a future where authentic communication can emerge out of anonymity and into face-to-face interaction. But of course that future is only possible if you start applying this to your own conversations today.

There is a gaping tonal disconnect between the way we interact face-to-face versus online. In person we are overly gracious. Anyone who isn’t super-nice is a crab or a crazy person. Online we tend to be overly critical and vicious. We would would never say face-to-face the things we say online to other people. This is evidence that we require a medium that removes the anonymity from online discussion. And I’m not talking about Skype. I mean real live exchanges that preserve all the strengths of online conversations.

At any rate, I just want to say that I am, once again, changed from reading an article at Mindful Construct. Specifically, I’m making a commitment to join the fight for real emotional communication.

Evan October 18, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Hi Cory, are you from the US. The split between sugary-niceness concealing anger-rage is especially prevalent in the US. This is another dimension to the internet – getting in touch with other cultures (although usually through and Americanised cultural filter – the netiquette prevailing (informal, politeness and trolls etc) tends to be Americanised).

It will be interesting to see what happens when China becomes dominant. Also if video becomes prevalent and people can see the person giving the message, if this makes a difference.

Steven October 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

Melissa, I really love the way you think! I’m kind of like you in a way because I prefer people to dive into their emotions and really feel them for what they are. They ARE a kind of intelligence.

Sometimes when I see people suppressing an emotion, I try and push their buttons a bit. I try to “trigger” them to feel what I see is waiting to come out. That sounds a bit manipulative, but it is actually a process of healing.

People have a tendency to want to speak to me when they are feeling very depressed. I think it’s because I’m a good listener, and also a good speaker when it comes to “talking about feeling.”

However, I am not “compassionate” in the way you describe. As I said, I push people to their boundaries and see how they react. People do have a right to feel what they feel, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of that.

At one point you say:

“Telling yourself the compassion story of “Oh, but he’s in a bad place/ Oh, but she must be having a rotten day/ Oh, but he clearly misunderstood me” — so as to talk yourself out of being blunt — is an excellent way to subdue your emotional response.”

This narrative becomes useful only after the initial burst of emotions has subsided.

A lot of people NEVER let go of a particular memory or feeling. They carry their pain and grudges forever. I think it CAN be useful to say, “Maybe he was having a rotten day,” because it shows empathy, and it helps you understand that people make mistakes. Haven’t you treated someone poorly only because you were in a bad mood?

Emotions are great, in the moment, but they also have to eventually be let go of. They are like disposable cameras.

Cory October 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

Evan,

I am from Northern California, born and raised. And yes, everyone here is crazy nice.

I don’t think Chinese culture will ever dominate because it is too steeped in its old traditions that western audiences don’t relate to. Even if China does eclipse us economically, Hollywood continuity will always be the world’s official language, even in the East. I’ve been to China twice and everyone watches the latest American movies.

Zainul Franciscus October 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Hey Melissa,

Nicely put. Keep up the good work. I look forward to read your future articles.

Cheers

Odin Xenobuilder October 20, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Melissa, thank you for taking a negative reaction and working it into a lesson for others. Kind of analogous to the whole concept of taking what we might consider our negative feelings and experiencing and working through them to our ultimate benefit.

Melissa Karnaze October 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

Cory, I’m glad the article gives you something to think about. :)

“Why did this happen?

Are we really so many miles removed from strong boundaries, emotional toughness, congruent integrity?

Its a huge discrepancy how we’re quick to point out the poisonous behavior of a politician or a celebrity, yet when it comes to someone trolling the internet we (perhaps those of us attracted to self-help material) are quick to put on the compassion hats.”

Exactly. This online environment is a safer, more cushioned medium between the two. There is a HUGE disconnect about what people condemn in public figures but gloss over in their relationships, and especially how they treat themselves.

Why does it happen?

Another factor, emotional resilience is pretty much trained out of us by the time we reach the first grade.

I also think China won’t be ready to be a world leader until it sheds many of the old traditions that just don’t cut it in the West.

Evan, I think the national differences are interesting to look at. But there are plenty of niceties (some genuine) in other cultures too.

Steven, yes, narratives aren’t helpful when they’re forced. They can utterly mess things up when they aren’t genuine. Emotions have their place in the process. “Disposable cameras” has a degrading ring to it though, don’t you think?

“A lot of people NEVER let go of a particular memory or feeling. They carry their pain and grudges forever. I think it CAN be useful to say, “Maybe he was having a rotten day,” because it shows empathy, and it helps you understand that people make mistakes. Haven’t you treated someone poorly only because you were in a bad mood?”

Usually people don’t let go because they don’t really register how deep the pain goes. And in turn they don’t discover their own role or their own power to respond — which leads to natural shifts in narrative, or perspective.

I have treated someone poorly because I was in a bad mood. But “bad moods” aren’t always so simple. I would want the other person to tell me how I affected them without making excuses for me.

Zainul, great to see you here, thanks for stopping by!

Odin, exactly. :)

Chris Edgar October 24, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Hi Melissa — yes, I think that’s an important thing to stay conscious of — that there’s sometimes a fine line between compassion and submission in order to avoid conflict (the latter of which, I think, often comes from learning as kids that there was no other way to deal with an adult’s anger). Also, submission doesn’t serve antagonistic people necessarily — sometimes people who are very critical, in my experience, are what I call “stumbling around looking for the wall” — they need someone to set a clear boundary because otherwise the world looks shapeless and chaotic to them.

Melissa Karnaze October 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Chris, great point about children not knowing how to deal with adult anger.

I agree that people can definitely criticize or argue because they haven’t yet figured out what they really believe. They’ll try to get a rile here and there from other people, as it distracts them from figuring out their own answers. One reason why not to engage with an argumentative person!

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