text © Jonathan Zap
A friend of mine, during a difficult life phase, said repeatedly that he felt “insane.” I pointed out to him that during the whole time when he said he felt insane that his reality testing was perfectly intact and that he was functioning rationally in society. His inner turmoil felt catastrophic to him, but actually it wasn’t; for the most part he was maintaining his structural integrity throughout the difficult period.
During most days I can feel the inner pressures within me ebbing and flowing. There are phases where anxiety and inner turmoil intensify, and others where they relax and I may even feel euphoric. When I was younger and less experienced, I took increases in inner pressure too seriously. The friend I mentioned above seemed to fall into this, and when the inner turmoil increased he felt that there was something drastically wrong either with him or with his surroundings. When anxiety intensified, his mind tended to focus on relocating to another part of the country as the answer. As an outside observer, it was obvious that the inner pressure was going to be there wherever he went. As Emerson said, “The problem with traveling is that you take yourself with you.”
One way to improve your structural integrity is to allow the inner pressure without thinking there is something particularly wrong with you or your present circumstances. We can easily construct a story, a he said/she said, a tale of money woes, etc. to explain the inner pressure. But people in all circumstances incarnating on this pressurized world feel inner pressure. What also greatly strengthens structural integrity is when you realize that you can take impeccable actions despite the inner pressure. I have a fairly intense fear of heights and that was part of the inspiration for me to get into mountain climbing. I discovered that even though I was feeling intense fear I could still make it to the next handhold or foothold just as well as someone who wasn’t feeling the fear. If the inner pressure feels too great to focus on complex tasks, then use the pressurized zone to clean up your space, do dishes, laundry, etc. Exercise can be a very helpful practice while under inner pressure and has been proven to help moods and states of mind.
“Grace under pressure.” — Hemingway’s definition of heroism.